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What are the broken blood vessels on my face?

The tiny blood vessels connecting arteries to veins are called capillaries – these have delicate thin walls and are easily broken/dilated, which makes them visible as red or blue lines on the skin, particularly around the nose and cheeks (telangiectasias).
They are mostly benign and not a serious medical issue* however are often bothersome and unsightly.

What causes them?

  • Genetics
  • Hormones
  • Chronic exposure to the sun
  • Chronic exposure to extreme temperatures (hot or cold)
  • Skin irritation/abrasive soaps and sponges
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Ageing
  • Some medical conditions

How do I treat them?

The main form of treatment is light therapy – either with a Vascular laser or Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). The light energy is absorbed by the oxyhaemoglobin (in blood), causing the vessel to heat up to 70C, causing them to collapse and be reabsorbed by the body. Results may be seen immediately or after a week.

Several treatments may be required for particularly large or stubborn vessels. SEE PHOTOS (all afters are taken immediately after treatment)

Sun protection as UV light exposure makes them worse

Larger vessels (eg varicose veins seen in the legs may require surgery or sclerotherapy) If these are present in conjunction with generalised redness/flushing and chronic sensitivity, the condition may be rosacea. Burning, itching and sensitivity may also be present.

The exact causes are unknown however it is particularly common amongst those of Northern European descent. Alcohol, strenuous exercise, caffeine, stress, harsh products, certain foods, extreme temperatures and pollutions are all thought to contribute.

Long term or lifelong treatment may be required to control it.

It is best to seek the help of a Dermatologist for rosacea – they can help to identify the triggers and to advise on therapy including antibiotics and laser therapies.

(*n.b. if they are accompanied by frequent nose bleeds, red/black stools, seizures or shortness of breath, please visit your doctor.)

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