Blood Vessels & Facial Redness
Broken capillaries are common on the face, where the skin is affected by aging, environmental toxins, and sun damage. Many people suffer with broken blood vessels as early as in the 20s and 30s. The condition is harmless, but can cause embarrassment, frustration and just be unsightly.
Causes of broken blood vessels
Broken blood vessels occur when the walls of the vessels are damaged from tobacco and alcohol use, extreme temperatures, prolonged sun exposure, excessive scrubbing, and especially with the use of harsh chemical and physical exfoliators. Pregnancy, childbirth, oral contraceptives, estrogen replacement therapy and heredity can also lead to broken blood vessels. All of these insults weaken the blood vessel walls causing the vessels to dilate and become visible. People with damaged, thin or sensitive skin or with other skin conditions like Rosacea, are at highest risk for broken blood vessels and facial redness.
Rosacea is a common inflammatory condition of the skin that can cause flushing, discomfort and distressing facial redness. The hallmark of Rosacea is visible broken blood vessels and diffuse redness on the cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead. Rosacea is typically difficult to treat, but we often use a combination of topical and oral medications, counsel on the importance of strict sun protection, and use our vascular pulse dye laser (PDL).
Treatment for broken blood vessels
The best and gold standard treatment for broken capillaries is laser therapy. Laser treatments are safe, easy, and effective at providing excellent and often long-term results.
At Dermatology Institute, we use the Pulse Dye Laser (PDL) called the Vbeam Perfecta. This laser works by targeting hemoglobin, a component of red blood cells. The laser energy is absorbed by hemoglobin and heats up. This heat collaterally damages the surrounding blood vessel walls and causes them to shut down and disappear without causing damage to the surrounding skin. Because these lasers target blood vessels specifically, they do not affect other skin structures and do not cause crusting, scabbing or peeling, so there is little to no downtime. Patients can return to their normal activities right away, but it is essential to use sunscreen on the treated areas.
Brownish red neck discoloration
In additional to broken blood vessels and redness on the face, many patients are bothered by reddish brown discoloration on the neck and chest called poikiloderma. Poikiloderma is caused by chronic sun damage where blood vessels both dilate and even leak blood into the surrounding skin. This blood oxidizes, which changes its color from reddish to brown. Poikiloderma becomes more prominent with chronic sun exposure and is frequently a source of cosmetic frustration to patients.
Treatment for poikiloderma
A combination of the PDL (595nm) laser and the IPL. The PDL laser targets the brighter red blood vessels and the IPL laser penetrates more deeply and helps lighten the darker brown pigmentation. Again, because these lasers target vessels and brown spots specifically, they do not damage surrounding skin. Typically, because poikiloderma is stubborn, your cosmetic dermatologist will recommend a series of 3-5 treatments spaced 3-4 weeks apart for best results. Although usually not necessary, topical numbing cream, ice packs, and cooling gel may be used during your treatment to maximize comfort.