Unsightly Broken Blood Vessels on the Face? Here are Treatment Options.

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Dermatologist Dr. Robert Levine with Advanced Dermatology PC explains how broken capillaries occur and offers 5 ways to minimize or eliminate them.

Dr. Robert Levine

Broken capillaries happen when the walls of the tiny veins carrying blood to the skin weaken, dilate and become more visible against the skin’s surface.

Woke up bleary-eyed one morning to discover tiny broken blood vessels on your face? These burst capillaries – known medically as telangiectases – likely didn’t appear overnight and won’t disappear instantly, but many treatment options are available to repair these vessels or make them less visible, says Robert Levine, DO, of A dvanced Dermatology P.C.

While not dangerous, broken capillaries on the face certainly don’t bring a smile to those who experience them. Their unsightly nature usually prompts concern about how they got there and what can be done to eradicate them, Dr. Levine says. Telangiectases typically appear around the chin, nose and cheeks – the most visible parts of the face – and women are most often affected.

“Broken capillaries happen when the walls of the tiny veins carrying blood to the skin weaken, dilate and become more visible against the skin’s surface,” explains Dr. Levine, who is experienced in many areas of medical and surgical dermatology with an interest in cosmetics. “Certain factors increase our susceptibility to these broken capillaries on the face, but those with fair skin are more prone to the problem, though almost anyone can suffer from it at one point or another.”

What causes broken blood vessels?
Before considering medical treatment for broken capillaries, it’s important to understand their possible causes, some of which are preventable. According to Dr. Levine, they include:

  • Aging: “As with many conditions, getting older simply puts us at greater risk of broken capillaries,” he says.
  • Extreme temperature exposure, whether heat or cold
  • Excessive scrubbing with harsh cleansers: “Too-vigorous scrubbing can aggravate already-sensitive areas,” he says, “increasing the development of these broken vessels.”
  • Tobacco and alcohol use: “If there already weren’t enough reasons not to do or overdo these substances, this certainly adds to the list,” Dr. Levine says.
  • Genetics
  • High blood pressure
  • Frequent nose-blowing
  • Excess sun exposure
  • Hormones: Pregnancy and other causes of hormone changes may contribute, Dr Levine says.

“Broken blood vessels in the face are more likely to show up in people coping with other skin problems such as acne or rosacea.”

5 ways to treat broken facial capillaries
One dismaying fact about broken facial blood vessels is they won’t shrink or heal on their own. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be minimized or eradicated – it just depends on how you treat them, Dr. Levine says.

“Treatment for telangiectases can be broken down into 2 categories: temporary fixes and permanent fixes,” he explains. “But either way, the condition requires vigilance to keep under control or reduce the chance it will re-appear.”

Temporary fixes include:

  • Concealers: If your broken capillaries are minimal or in a less-obvious facial region, covering them with good-quality concealer may be all you need. “Use a green-based concealer to counteract the redness,” Dr. Levine advises. “Then blend your usual foundation over the concealer.”
  • Vitamin A creams: Known as retinoids, these creams can help reduce the visibility of broken facial capillaries by building surface collagen in the skin, minimizing the vessels’ appearance, he says.
  • Anti-inflammatory creams: Products containing anti-inflammatory ingredients such as green tea, or red and brown algae, may potentially cut excessive blood flow to affected skin, making broken capillaries less obvious, Dr. Levine says.

Permanent fixes include:

  • Electrocautery: Using heat dispensed through a fine needle-like tip, electrocautery vaporizes dilated blood vessels so they disappear. Not all patients will benefit, but a dermatologist can determine if it might work in your case, Dr. Levine says.
  • Laser treatment: The most effective treatment for broken facial capillaries sends laser light pulses into the veins, which hinders their blood flow and eventually destroys them. Laser treatment typically requires multiple visits and temporary side effects may include stinging, redness and swelling, and peeling or crusting.

“By shutting down the dilated blood vessels, they can be effectively treated. But the body has a way of re-developing new vessels to replace those that are gone,” Dr. Levine says. “So ultimately, treating broken capillaries requires maintenance on your part.”

Advanced Dermatology P.C. and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery (New York & New Jersey) is one of the leading dermatology centers in the nation, offering highly experienced physicians in the fields of cosmetic and laser dermatology as well as plastic surgery and state-of-the-art medical technologies. http://www.advanceddermatologypc.com.

Robert Levine, D.O., is board certified and specializes in dermatology at Advanced Dermatology P.C.

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