What are the similarities and differences between varicose veins and thread veins?

Varicose veins and thread veins are two types of vascular disease. Although they share some similarities, varicose veins and thread veins are different, and it is important to fully understand them in order to seek the best treatment plan available. In this blog post, we have created a simple table so that you can clearly determine these similarities and differences, and effectively treat your varicose and thread veins.

Varicose Veins Thread Veins
What are they? Large, twisted, lumpy/swollen veins that are often blue or purple in colour, and appear most commonly on our legs and feet. They tend to look rope-like, and can be divided into two categories: trunk and reticular. Varicose veins also cause symptoms such as uncomfortable, swollen and achy/heavy legs. Also known as spider veins, a network of small, damaged, blue or red veins that appear most commonly on our legs or face. They tend to look like tree branches or spider webs, and usually sit close to the skin’s surface/do not bulge out. Thread veins are generally painless.
What causes them? Both occur when one-way valves in veins that open to supply blood towards our heart become weakened or damaged. This causes blood to flow backwards and pool in our veins, which in turn creates pressure and makes them swell and enlarge.  Both occur when one-way valves in veins that open to supply blood towards our heart become weakened or damaged. This causes blood to flow backwards and pool in our veins, which in turn creates pressure and makes them swell and enlarge. 
What happens if they are left untreated? Aside from being a cosmetic issue, if left untreated they can lead to other more serious health conditions including:

  • Bleeding;
  • Blood clots;
  • Superficial thrombophlebitis;
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT); and
  • Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
Tend to be simply a cosmetic issue that do not often lead to other more serious health conditions.
What treatments are available? Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) – a walk-in-walk-out procedure performed under local anaesthetic that uses radiofrequency energy (like laser) to treat less troublesome superficial varicose veins. It’s a minimally invasive keyhole treatment so you should be up and about in a short matter of time.


Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy (UGFS) – a walk-in-walk-out procedure performed under local anaesthetic where foam is injected into the vein. Arguably the quickest, most cost-effective and least invasive way to treat more troublesome superficial varicose veins.

Microsclerotherapy – a walk-in-walk-out procedure where a liquid sclerosant is injected into the vein. It takes less than an hour and requires no aesthetic. The most effective treatment for thread veins.

How can we help?

Here at Premier Veins, we offer a FREE, no-obligation mini-consultation for anyone considering varicose or thread vein treatment at one of our private clinics in Birmingham and Solihull. The consultation will provide you with an opportunity to:

To get started, click here to book your FREE mini-consultation or call 0121 769 2646 to speak to a member of our expert team today.

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