Thread vein removal in male cyclists linked to the ‘Wiggins effect’
26th March 2013
bicycleSir Bradley Wiggins’ huge cycling successes during 2012 may have inadvertently led to an increasing number of men splashing out money for cosmetic treatment to remove ‘thread veins’ from their legs. The British cyclist captured the Tour de France title last year before shortly going on to win gold during the time trial event at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, and capped a fantastic year by being voted as the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. If all that wasn't impressive enough, he was awarded a knighthood as part of the 2013 New Year Honours. All of Sir Bradley Wiggins’ successes led to thousands of men across the UK picking up a bike for the first time in many years and getting out onto the open road – the ‘Wiggins effect’ as it has been referred to. As with many male cyclists though, there is a common penchant for leg hair removal as hair-free legs are much easier to massage. In addition, the smoother legs apparently provide less resistance, with some men arguing that with no hair on the legs they become more ‘aerodynamic’ and increasing potential speed – a somewhat debatable theory perhaps. However, with so many men now removing their leg hair, previously hidden and unpleasant looking thread veins are now exposed and sudden become more visible. Thread veins, also known as ‘telangiectasia varicose veins’, are extremely common and usually due to hereditary factors, hormonal changes, or simply down to prolonged periods of standing up over many years. Lifestyle choices such as too much alcohol, too much exposure to sun and smoking have also been linked to an increased risk of developing thread veins. They appear as small clusters of blue or red veins that have become dilated under the surface of the skin and are usually visible on the cheeks, nose and legs.  There are no painful symptoms associated with thread veins but because of their visible nature, they can cause some degree of distress and create a feeling of unattractiveness to those who have them. Less than a year after Sir Bradley Wiggins’ cycling victories, doctors have now noted that more men are coming to see them regarding treatment options to remove their thread veins. Common treatments to remove them include laser treatment, whereby the veins absorb the light from the laser and are subsequently destroyed.  There is also a procedure called a Microsclerotherapy, where injections are administered via a very fine needle into the thread veins. This results in the lining of the veins swelling up so that no blood is able to flow through them. Dr Peter Finigan is specialist thread vein practitioner at Dr Newmans Clinic, a nationwide doctor-led consultancy who specialise in the removal of thread veins. Since September 2012, Dr Finigan has treated over 50 male cyclists at his clinic. He commented on the new trend, saying: “There has been a significant rise in male cyclists requesting our treatment. One comes along, has his thread veins removed, and recommends it to his friends. Then three or four more from the same cycling club make appointments to see us because they’ve been talking about their thread veins to each other when they have a break. It’s normally only once they’ve shaved or waxed their legs that they even notice the thread veins, even though they may have had them for years. Sometimes, fellow cyclists point them out, so they feel self-conscious and want to do something about them.”