Wiggins effect & shaved legs said to lie behind rise in thread vein removal surgery among male cyclists

Clinic has cyclists queueing for procedure, but is it really down to post-TDF and London 2012 boom? We're not so sure

by Simon_MacMichael   March 25, 2013  


A big increase in the number of men undergoing cosmetic surgery to have thread veins removed from their legs is being linked a boom in cycling following the London 2012 Olympic Games and Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France win last summer.

Manchester-based Dr Peter Finigan, a member of the Dr Newmans Clinic network, which specialises in thread vein removal, says that since last September he has performed the procedure on in excess of 50 male cyclists reports Mail Online.

“There has been a significant rise in male cyclists requesting our treatment,” he explained. “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.”

Causes of the unsightly red or blue veins include hereditary factors, obesity, or excessive consumption of alcohol.

“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,” continued Dr Finigan.

“Sometimes, fellow cyclists point them out, so they feel self-conscious and want to do something about them.”

Mail Online points out that “In the three months following Bradley Wiggins’ Tour De France victory in July, 10,000 new members joined Cycling UK [sic], donned their lycra and took to the roads.”

It adds: “Many also decided to replicate their cycling heroes by shaving their legs,” the implication being that it is recent converts to cycling - often termed middle aged men in Lycra, or MAMILs - that have chosen to go hairless who are fuelling the rise in cosmetic surgery.

While it is indeed true that British Cycling – Mail Online’s ‘Cycling UK’ – saw a big upswing in membership last year, we suspect many, if not most, of those cyclists will have been cycling regularly for some time before joining the organisation.

We’d also be surprised if a significant number of men - well, any of them, really - decided overnight not only to take up cycling and buy a road bike, but also to start shaving their legs at the same time.

While there’s little disputing Dr Finigan’s statement regarding patient numbers, we suspect the men concerned will have been cycling seriously for some time.

It is often assumed that the sole reason for cyclists shaving their legs is due to improved aerodynamics – and at elite level, evidence is that it can help save potentially valuable seconds over a long time trial, for example.

But ease of massage and treating injuries are equally, if not more important reasons, as is the tradition and ritualistic aspect.

Here’s VecchioJo’s take on it.

Do you shave your legs? If so, how soon did you begin doing so after taking up cycling, and what was the prime reason for starting?

29 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

It's cool.

The chicks dig it.

posted by 6654henry [58 posts]
25th March 2013 - 21:41


Took about 3 months of serious cycling before I did. I was slightly fed up of looking a dick on club runs, as well as the fact I like the feel, not so much the look since I've had no sun to tan them yet this year, and my girlfriend likes it. But seriously, nothing beats the wind feel when you go fast.

posted by pdows47 [111 posts]
25th March 2013 - 21:52


Definitely going to give shaving a go.......just need the daytime temperature to rise above -1.

posted by LeDomestique [34 posts]
25th March 2013 - 23:25


If I had the money for this I would start with the veins on my face first. I don't have any vanity spare for my legs; thought this post was going to be about Varicose veins.

I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1817 posts]
25th March 2013 - 23:52


Yes i shave mine, though i'd been cycling for 18 years or so before i felt i'd earned the right. Nothing to do with aerodynamics, cuts, massaging or any of that as i've never raced so have never had a post ride rub down by a soigneur...
For me it's a badge that i take my cycling seriously, along with the tan lines that never fade away (even in the dead of winter).
The problem is in circuit training you do get comments as running shorts are shorter than cycling shorts and show a whiter shade of pale up top - it's been suggested that i get St Tropez'd to mask the tan line!! So i've had to tell them that the tan lines are hard earned and are my badge of honour, taking thousands of miles of cycling to achieve. They usually think i've come back from a summer holiday and are amazed to hear that the tan has come from not so sunny Northern Ireland.
A word of warning to anyone who hasn't shaved before, once you start you won't stop - because to itching after a couple of days regrowth will drive you mad and back to your razor for some relief..

posted by PRINCIPIA PHIL [59 posts]
26th March 2013 - 0:03


This sounds suspiciously like someone "making sh1t up" in the hope tht itleads to some business ..

Move along, nothing to see here..

Me, Myself and I

posted by phax71 [325 posts]
26th March 2013 - 9:30

1 Like

Question for the more hirsute leg shaver - if you are a gentleman blessed with a comprehensive fur coat, how do you decide where to draw - or shave - the line?

Have to say if I was made to feel 'a dick' for not having shaved legs on a club run I'd be tempted to find another club.

joemmo's picture

posted by joemmo [1112 posts]
26th March 2013 - 10:43


Real men have them waxed then you truly have a reason to say "Shut up legs!" Devil

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [493 posts]
26th March 2013 - 12:24


I live in Manchester and I cycle, I've never heard of anyone having this done and I've never heard of this surgery/practice.

I'm very much with Phax7 on this one.

posted by farrell [1945 posts]
26th March 2013 - 13:48


I shaved one leg, but found no gains, marginal or otherwise, so I didn't bother with the other one.

nowasps's picture

posted by nowasps [352 posts]
26th March 2013 - 13:58


I tried it years ago when riding with a club where it 'should be done'. I was still only a kid, ok?! About 16/17 I think.

Anyway, for the benefit of Joemmo, the first time, I did the whole of my legs. Then two days later the stubble on my thighs made my nutsack sore. (Sorry, no nicer way to put it) So then I left a bit towards the top of my thighs, but the contrast between shaved and unshaved just made it look like I had no leg hair but that my pubes had run wild and were spreading down my thighs!

Oh, and it feels like wind whips right through your trousers, even jeans.

Anyway, these days, if I was made to feel like a tool for not doing it, I *would* be finding a different club.

For a UK-based amateur (read: often requires 3/4s or tights due to weather, doesn't get regular massage, doesn't need to shave 3 seconds off a 25 mile TT), the best reason I can see for shaving is to avoid the hair poking through the tights and giving you an awful 'furry lycra' look, and the associated increased comfort of not pulling hair in unintended directions due to the wearing of lycra.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3723 posts]
26th March 2013 - 16:03


I've never shaved my legs in my life. Not that my legs are any where near mildly hairy that anyone would notice.

downfader's picture

posted by downfader [204 posts]
26th March 2013 - 16:15


It wasn't the club, the guys there are ace and have never said anything to anyone about how they look (shaved, kit, lids, or bikes). The issue was mainly me, looking the odd one out, it made me a little uncomfortable, so I did it, it's definitely made it easier those times I've come off (mainly with the MTB folks, I'm not very good at that Tongue)

posted by pdows47 [111 posts]
26th March 2013 - 18:44


I need to start shaving, I do feel a tad out of place on my club runs as the hairiest man there. Also, racing starts soon and I don't really fancy hair in my road rash should the worst happen...

posted by Linkinbassist [35 posts]
26th March 2013 - 19:38


Strewth....I don't like shaving my face...so why in hell would I want to shave my legs!!?? Surprise

As I'm generally quite furry all over anyway....so without going for a full body shave I see absolutely no point in shaving my legs!!

posted by Furry Mommy [32 posts]
26th March 2013 - 19:52


And here I was just on my way out the door, in my Sugoi full length winter tights, to buy blades! Don't want to be monkey boy when I switch to capri tights tomorrow.

I started shaving right after the first ride with my club, way back in 1984.

Dave K

Dave Krentz's picture

posted by Dave Krentz [11 posts]
26th March 2013 - 20:04


Shaving your legs; cycling can be the excuse if you like, but don't kid yourself there is anything to be gained. It's just a fetish. Hairs on legs are more aero (due to an effect like the dimples on a golf ball), and they are certainly natural. Pro cyclists shave because they have daily massages, weekly road rash, and sponsors to look sleek for - how many readers of this can justify it on those grounds?

Vin Cox

posted by Vin Cox [51 posts]
26th March 2013 - 20:17


I don't shave my legs.

With a nice furry coat of hairs that I have I can pick up radio signals, and its a good listen when I am bored, you know. Nerd

seabass89's picture

posted by seabass89 [235 posts]
26th March 2013 - 20:26


I stopped shaving my legs after 25 years a couple of years ago. My wife had out first baby recently.

Coincidence? I don't think so.


aslongasicycle's picture

posted by aslongasicycle [369 posts]
26th March 2013 - 20:54


'Hairs on legs are more aero (due to an effect like the dimples on a golf ball)'

reference please?

posted by andyp [1371 posts]
26th March 2013 - 21:31


Think it might have been something Graeme Obree was talking about.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3723 posts]
26th March 2013 - 22:03


I shave my legs. I'm not sure completely why, but it partly stems from a big tour I did where the physios were much happier massaging shaved legs, it partly reminds me to keep looking after my legs (I feel more like a "proper cyclist" with shaved legs so am more likely to get off my arse and go for a ride or say no to another pint), and partly because for some reason my leg hair is the type that likes poking through lycra, and that's not a good look.

To answer the "how far up do you shave" question, I tend to stop about 2/3 up my thighs, so that even in my shortest shorts I'm not hairy; I use an electronic clipper thing to keep everything above that to about grade 1, which keeps things tidy and doesn't leave such an obvious line between shaved and clipped - i.e. avoiding the "hairy shorts" look.

Well, that's more about myself than I'm used to revealing to a bunch of complete strangers!

posted by Pierre [91 posts]
27th March 2013 - 12:31


Sod that I detest shaving my face bugger shaving my legs what do you gain as an enthusiast oh yes the wife taking the p**s Cool

posted by sodit [84 posts]
27th March 2013 - 12:33


If I was going away on one of these European trips where you live like a pro for a week and get a massage every night, then I might consider it.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3723 posts]
27th March 2013 - 12:46


All the way up to my ears...


posted by Matt_S [227 posts]
27th March 2013 - 13:55


Don't care, for non racers its only about looks and I couldn't give a hairy arse what people think of me. When I'm fit its a joy to overtake a cleanly shaven, stem slamming, pro idoliser on a 5k bike with nothing but my hairy pins.

'It's the closest you can get to flying'
Robin Williams response when asked why he enjoyed riding so much

posted by Simmo72 [547 posts]
27th March 2013 - 14:19


I don't shave my legs and I'm not shallow and vain to want my thread veins done.

David Palmer
Milton Keynes

Specialized Secteur Elite 2013
Team Raleigh Road Bike
Carrera Vulcan V-Spec

djpalmer32's picture

posted by djpalmer32 [70 posts]
27th March 2013 - 14:29


I didnt know cycling was so camp
Think I'll keep my winter tights on all year just in case anyone get the wrong idea - mind you I'll probably need them anyway the way temperatures are going


posted by alg [158 posts]
28th March 2013 - 13:38


alg wrote:
I didnt know cycling was so camp
Think I'll keep my winter tights on...

Hoisted by your own petard!

posted by Mat Brett [2196 posts]
28th March 2013 - 13:44