Why do Whiteley Clinics predominantly use microsclerotherapy as the treatment of choice for Thread Veins?
There is no denying that there is a wide range of alternative treatment protocols offered to thread vein sufferers by a host of other clinics in the UK, and below you can read why they are less effective than our preferred choice of treatment.
At Whiteley Clinics, once we have treated any underlying vein problems that may be present, we almost exclusively recommend the technique of ‘microsclerotherapy’ for the treatment of thread veins on the legs. This involves injecting a very dilute ‘sclerosant’ solution into the tiny veins to narrow the dilated blood vessels. This is achieved using an exceptionally small needle under very high magnification.
The sclerosant solution used at Whiteley Clinics is selected for both being highly effective at narrowing the veins but also for having a numbing effect on the veins being treated, thereby reducing any potential discomfort for the patient.
Using Whiteley Clinics microsclerotherapy technique, around 80% of patients report an ‘excellent result’ when the treatment has been completed, with a further 15% of patients reporting ‘good improvement’ in the visible signs. In our experience, the kind of minor problems experienced by the remaining 5% of patients (brown stains on the skin surrounding the injection site caused by a small amount of trapped blood) are almost always as a direct result of them failing to comply with our strict post-operative instructions to wear compression stockings for two full weeks, day and night! And even these minor problems are easily rectified by seeing the patient four weeks after the procedure to simply release the trapped blood.
At Whiteley Clinics, each microsclerotherapy session is performed using a strictly controlled maximum dose of the sclerotherapy solution. If the thread veins being treated are extensive, it may be that a second procedure needs to be scheduled for the following day. It is perfectly safe to perform these two procedures in quick succession without any risk of overdose.
As noted above, for the very best results, the patient needs to wear graduated compression stockings for a full 14 days and nights after microsclerotherapy. Although many patients are tempted to remove the stockings for showers or for baths, this will undoubtedly compromise the final cosmetic result. The patients who enjoy the very best treatment results are the ones who religiously keep their stockings on without interruption for the full fortnight.
The area where the microsclerotherapy has been performed will initially look worse than it did prior to the treatment, and improvement will only start to be seen between 6 and 12 weeks later. For this reason, Whiteley Clinics will never repeat microsclerotherapy in an area within three months as it is impossible to tell whether the visible thread veins are veins that have already treated and are in the process of disappearing. Should any thread veins remain obvious in a treated area after three months, it may then be appropriate to repeat the procedure. Even so, it is worth noting that treated thread veins continue to disappear up to 18 months after injections of microsclerotherapy.
Although Whiteley Clinics follow very strict guidelines to get the very best results, the one thing we are unable to do is to stop new thread veins from forming on the legs.
Even when successful treatment of all the thread veins on the legs has been performed, it is still possible for new ones to appear. Sometimes, patients think that these are the same thread veins coming back again, but our clinical audits prove that this is not the case.
Whilst most of our patients experience an excellent clearance of their thread veins and go on to enjoy many years of great-looking legs, other patients are less fortunate, simply due either to their own individual biology, to specific life events such as pregnancy or even to prolonged use of the oral contraceptive pill. At Whiteley Clinics, we advise our patients to think of thread veins in the same way as their dental health… provided you get on top of the problem – and any new problems that may appear – thread veins are something we can deal with together very easily.
Because thread veins on the legs are such a common condition, it is easy for practitioners to make a lot of money, risk-free, by offering largely ineffective and short-term ‘quick fix’ treatments. The business model works like this… provided the price is low enough, expectations are low and few people ever bother to complain if they achieve a less than satisfactory result. And if they can process a sufficient volume of patients quickly, even with a low price tag, operators will be making a substantial profit. And there are simply so many people with the problem, they don’t need to worry about gaining a bad reputation because the market is so big, and there will be plenty more unsuspecting punters coming along!
As the UK’s leading venous specialists, it’s easy for us at Whiteley Clinics to be cynical about the competition. But when you consider some of the ineffective ‘quack’ treatment options being offered to unsuspecting patients, it quickly becomes clear that, in fact, it’s not us who are the cynical ones…
There is no good evidence at all that any cream will have any lasting effect at all on thread veins on the leg. It is possible to make thread veins look better temporarily either with a formulation of cream that causes contraction of the veins, or acts as ‘cover-up’ on the skin above the veins, making them more difficult to see. But that’s not a long-term solution to getting rid of the thread veins.
Many tablets or dietary supplements boast about containing vitamin K, claiming that this ‘promotes blood clotting to help broken veins’. However, thread veins are not ‘broken’; they are merely normal veins which have become dilated, and extra Vitamin K has no measurable effect on them whatsoever.
Many operators use devices that heat the vein by passing an electric current through a needle and, via the dermis, directly into the thread vein. This heating can indeed destroy a small section of the thread vein with each pinprick, and the immediate effect is often dramatically impressive. This is because, when the skin burns, it becomes more opaque making the thread vein simply more difficult to see through the skin. Secondly, when a thread vein is heated in one section, there is often a spasm in the vein each side of the area of treatment, causing a contraction and giving the impression that the vein has disappeared. But this spasm doesn’t last, and the treatment delivers little more than a cosmetic effect rather than a clinical solution.
As noted on our Treating Thread Veins page, thread vein on the legs lie below the heart and often have a column of blood exerting a gravitational force to keep them open. So trying to burn the visible part of the thread vein in isolation is a primitive, unsophisticated approach to a much more complex problem, and is highly unlikely to be effective. By failing to first of all treat the underlying ‘feeding veins’ or hidden varicose veins, simple electrolysis or radiofrequency treatment targeted solely at the visible branches of a cluster of thread veins will still miss any of the branches lying deeper under the skin, significantly increasing the likelihood of recurrence in the future.
Many clinics use laser or pulsed light devices to treat thread veins on the legs across the skin. They usually operate at a wavelength that specifically targets haemoglobin, the red pigment of blood. Although highly effective on the red vessels on the face and neck, Whiteley Clinics does not use or recommend them for thread veins on the legs for precisely the same reason that we do not promote electrolysis or radiofrequency treatment… it fundamentally misses the vital step of treating ‘feeding’ veins or hidden varicose veins and, as such, delivers results far inferior to our chosen microsclerotherapy technique.
Additionally, with virtually every laser or pulsed light system, getting enough power into any thread vein to actually destroy it effectively seriously increases the risk of skin burns. As with electrolysis, the heated skin becomes opaque, masking the thread veins in the short term. But with laser or pulsed light, there is a very real risk that as the ‘burnt’ skin heals over the subsequent weeks, it can become either de-pigmented (whiter than the surrounding skin) or pink, shiny and ‘hyperpigmented’ (darker than the surrounding skin).
Following The Whiteley Protocol®, treatment of the thread vein clusters by microsclerotherapy overcomes all the problems noted above, enabling whole clusters of thread veins on the legs to be treated with a single injection, effectively treating both the visible and invisible parts of the thread vein cluster and delivering a far more complete treatment.