This article has been reproduced by kind permission of The Mail on Sunday YOU Magazine.
You probably haven’t even thought about going bare-legged yet, but if I could give you a word of advice, it’s to deal with any spider (aka thread or broken) veins now, rather than later in the summer. These very fine dilated veins are actually damaged capillaries (tiny blood vessels) just below the surface of the skin – which is why they show up – and are most likely to occur on legs although they can sprout anywhere. Consultant vascular surgeon John Scurr says ‘most people [women and men] suffer what doctors call “dermal flares” at some point. They affect all ages but are more visible as you get older because the skin gets thinner.’
You may feel some aching and discomfort but the main problem is that we mind how they look. Fortunately, there are effective treatments, although the catch is they may return. As Mr Scurr says, ‘like weeds in the garden, you’re likely to get another crop at some point – particularly if they run in the family.’ (However, mine were treated nearly a decade ago and only a very few have crept back, even though my mother had them.)
Treatments include creams – which are often expensive and give a temporary result at best, laser – which is slow and may lead to scarring, and micro-sclerotherapy – which several friends and I have had and Mr Scurr recommends as best for legs (though not for faces where laser is the best option). If you have lots of thread veins, Mr Scurr (jscurr.com) recommends first having a scan to exclude varicose veins, which underlie about 30 per cent of cases, which can be a medical problem. (If found, they should be treated before having sclerotherapy.)
Micro-sclerotherapy uses an ultra-fine needle to inject a ‘sclerosing’ solution into the vein, which irritates the lining causing the sides to stick together, expelling the blood. The body naturally eliminates both the vein and the solution – but this can take two or three months during which time your legs may look a bit battle-scarred (why I suggest starting now) though eventually there should be no scarring or marks. It usually needs between one and four 20-30 minute sessions.
One friend who had micro-sclerotherapy recently (at Mr Scurr’s clinic at the Lister Hospital, London) reported that ‘some veins stung a little but I soon got used to the rhythm of the injecting. A cylinder of tightly rolled cotton wool was stuck on each site immediately to minimise bruising. I left with my legs wrapped in a light bandage, which I took off three hours later along with the cotton wool. My legs ached a little for a few days, and the expelled blood left thin pencil-like lines but these faded after a few weeks.’
She adds ‘it’s not a quick fix but it’s worth it – I now have lovely unblemished legs and can leave the sarong behind when I walk to the pool.’
Two friends buttonholed me recently to ask if I realised ‘how amazing’ the Lanolips products are. Based on super softening, moisturising and healing ‘Ultra Medical Grade lanolin’ the range includes five SPF15 Lip Ointments in five tints, (I love soft pink Rose), £7.99, multi-purpose 101 Ointment (said to have 101 uses), £11, and Lanolips Rose Balm EveryDay for Dry Hands & Nails, £9.95. All amazing! From Victoria Health.
Here’s a lovely treat for mothers and daughters to share. The Athenaeum Hotel in London’s Piccadilly is offering a two-for-one deal on a honey-themed champagne tea, together with a REN Manuka Honey Facial each. The three-course tea includes scones and crumpets and local honey (from hives in the Royal parks), honey-roast ham, lavender and honey macaroons, honey cheesecake, and much more (our tester left with a substantial doggy bag). The REN Facial uses all-natural products, infused with extracts of potent antimicrobial Manuka honey, and includes a head and foot massage. To celebrate Mothers Day, the Hotel is offering tea (usually £39 each), facial (usually £100 each) and a free pot of honey for £139 for two people (doesn’t have to be mother and daughter). Tel: 020 7499 346 WHAT V, athenaeumhotel.com
Website of the Week: aveda.co.uk
We all know how important it is to drink lots of pure water daily but in many developing countries people don’t have that option. More than 4,000 children die each day from preventable conditions like diarrhoea due to unsafe drinking water. Aveda’s 2011 Earth Month campaign links hair and skin professionals plus consumers in over 30 countries aiming to raise ($4million) to provide clean water in 40 countries. Join a local Walk for Water (details on the website) and/or buy an Aveda Light The Way Candle, £16, with £12.80 going to the Global Greengrants Fund.