Dealing with a Web of Trouble on the Face: Dermatologist Joshua Fox Explains Causes, Describes Treatment for Spider Veins

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Spider veins are caused by several factors including aging, pregnancy, childbirth, birth control pills, estrogen replacement therapy, sun damage and Rosacea. Fortunately, there are in-office treatments that your dermatologist can perform to remove these facial veins and improve your appearance.

Dermatologist Dr. Joshua Fox addresses causes and treatment for spider veins on the face this summer. Among the many skin changes people notice as they age, one of the most disturbing may be the fine, red lines they begin to see on their noses, chins or cheeks, often by the time they reach age 30. These broken blood vessels or capillaries, also known as spider veins, or telangiectasias, are tiny vessels that are visible just beneath the skin’s surface. While not painful, they are often disconcerting since they can create large, unsightly red areas on the face. Sometimes people with these prominent veins are mistaken for alcohol abusers.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, slightly more than half of American women and up to 45 percent of men suffer from some form of a vein problem, accounting for millions of Americans. “Spider veins are caused by several factors,” says leading dermatologist Joshua L. Fox, M.D. “These include aging, pregnancy, childbirth, birth control pills, estrogen replacement therapy, sun damage and Rosacea. Fortunately, there are in-office treatments that your dermatologist can perform to remove these facial veins and improve your appearance.

“The first way to avoid spider veins on your face is to try to make sure you don’t get them in the first place,” says Dr. Fox, founder of Advanced Dermatology PC and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology. He explains that while some such veins are promoted by genetics or hormones, “the main way to keep spider veins from appearing on your face is through constant and consistent protection from the damaging rays of the sun. Excess sun exposure over many years has numerous negative effects on the skin, including the development of tiny red lines or spider veins,” Dr. Fox says.

“Any time your skin is going to be exposed to the sun, you should liberally apply a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher with both UVA and UVB protection. “Regardless of the weather or time of year, protection from the sun is critical to your health and appearance and is important to protect delicate skin not only from unsightly spider veins but also from deadly cancers.

If spider veins are bothersome, Dr. Fox says, they can be treated in your dermatologist’s office. “Laser therapy is the preferred means of removing spider veins on the face and has been the gold standard for the past 20 years. The veins selectively absorb the laser’s wavelengths of light; this light destroys the blood vessels and restores the skin’s natural appearance. Laser treatment is quick, safe and the results are immediate.”

According to Dr. Fox, smaller veins on the face typically require only a single laser treatment that lasts about 10-15 minutes. Some people may choose to have a topical anesthetic or ice applied to the area being treated to reduce possible discomfort. Side effects are few and include temporary discoloration of the site, blistering, crusting, redness or occasional bruising. A key benefit is that laser treatment targets only the broken blood vessels and not the surrounding skin.

“Most people are quite pleased with their appearance following laser treatment,” Dr. Fox says. “In fact, there are multiple lasers to treat spider veins and there is an 80 - 90 % chance for a greatly improved appearance with laser treatment. However, Dr. Fox warns even after treatment new ones can and may appear.

Dr. Fox offers some questions to consider when thinking about spider veins on the face:

1.    Does the redness cause me to feel embarrassed about the way I look?

2.    Do I have spider veins or is the redness caused by another condition, such as Rosacea, melanoma or something else?

3.    Do people ever ask you if you drink a lot? They may think that your face is red because you are drunk.

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, or if you simply have a concern about some change to the skin on your face, Dr. Fox recommends scheduling a visit with your Board-certified dermatologist, who knows your health history and can recommend the best ways to care for your skin and treat your specific conditions.

About Dr. Fox: Joshua L. Fox, M.D., F.A.A.D., earned his medical degree from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York. He completed an internship at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, followed by a three-year dermatology residency at the New York University School of Medicine. A Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, Dr. Fox is a leading authority in the field of dermatology, with an expertise in skin cancer, cosmetic surgery and laser procedures. He is the founder and director of Advanced Dermatology, P.C. of New York and New Jersey and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery (http://www.advanceddermatologypc.com) and is a spokesman for both the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery. He is founder and president of New Age Research Foundation, a non-profit committed to improving the quality of life of those with skin conditions (http://www.newageskin.org).

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MELISSA CHEFEC
MCPR Public Relations
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