Thread or spider veins

What are thread or spider veins?

Thread veins, also called spider veins, are tiny prominent veins just below the skin surface. They tend to branch and give a spidery sort of pattern, hence their common name.

Thread or spider veins can occur anywhere on the body but most often on the legs and face. The cause of spider veins is not known. Thread or spider veins may appear in certain conditions with increased levels of oestrogen hormones, such as in pregnancy or when taking the oral contraceptive pill. They may occasionally be linked to liver or thyroid disease. They can develop at any age, but are more common in children.

Not normally funded treatment or procedure:

Treatment for thread or spider veins is not normally funded by the NHS as the treatment is considered to be a cosmetic procedure. This is because:

  • In children and some adults, thread veins may go away on their own, which can take several years. Treatment is usually not necessary.
  • Thread veins are related to increased oestrogen hormones, and the levels then go back to normal (after a pregnancy or on stopping an oral contraceptive pill), the thread veins may go away within about nine months.
  • Thread veins can also completely disappear after treatment, but sometimes repeated treatments may be required. The problem may come back a few months later after treatment.

The clinician in charge of the care of the patient’s specific condition, usually a hospital doctor, can assist the application, if there is exceptional clinical need for the treatment to be funded. The patient’s clinician must evidence clinical exceptionality and must be supported by the patient’s local NHS commissioning organisation.

See separate leaflet for more information on Individual Funding Requests (IFRs).

Advice and further guidance:

Treatment policy for patients covered by NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG

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