With highly visible ‘bulging’ on the sides of the legs, it’s not difficult to spot varicose veins. And it is precisely the visible nature of the condition that has led generations of medical professionals and patients to focus simply on eradicating the surface signs of the condition without addressing the underlying causes.

Thread veins on the leg and the face – also commonly referred to as ‘spider veins’, ‘broken veins’, ‘surface veins’ or ‘venous flares’ – are small blood vessels in the most superficial layer of the skin (the dermis) which have become dilated and visible. Generally, the dermis is about 2-3 mm thick, so the deeper-seated the thread vein is in the skin, the less distinct and ‘livid’ it looks, and vice versa.

Thread veins are very common, affecting around 80% of adults (evenly split across both sexes) at some point in life and they are usually associated with underlying vein problems.