Broken Capillaries

Telangiectasias are small, dilated or widened blood vessels located in the outer layer of the skin. Their formation is typically gradual. They are common on the face (nose, cheeks, and chin) and legs (particularly the thighs, just below the knees and the ankles), but can be seen anywhere on the body.

What causes broken capillaries?

The cause of telangiectasias is unknown. Researchers believe they could be related to sun exposure, because they usually appear in places exposed to sunlight. Other known causes are related to aging, genetics and pregnancy, as well as alcohol use in persons that also have rosacea.

Usually, telangiectasias are not symptomatic and are considered harmless; however, some people feel they look unattractive and most people choose to have them removed. If the lesions are cosmetically displeasing, you may want to seek medical advice for treatment. Treatment for telangiectasias is not covered by insurance since it is considered cosmetic.

What is the recommended treatment?

Sclerotherapy is often recommended for larger telangiectasias on the legs and patients are regularly referred to a vascular surgeon, while laser treatment is typically used to treat telangiectasias of the face and smaller vessels of the legs. Removal is done by causing damage to the vessel and forcing it to collapse or scar. This reduces the appearance of the red marks or patterns on the skin.

At the Petroff Center, we offer the GentleMax Pro which utilizes a 1064 Nd:YAG laser technology. The FDA has approved a range of Nd:YAG laser machines for various skin disorders. The following skin disorders can be treated with Nd:YAG laser beams:

  • Telangiectasias or spider veins of the face (cheek, temporal region, nasal dorsum, forehead) and legs.
  • Some vascular birthmarks (capillary vascular malformations)
  • Hemangioma’s and cherry angiomas (vascular tumors) in the face and around the mouth

How is the treatment performed?

Treatment may require 1-3 visits depending on the size of the vessels and number of vessels being treated. Treatments are performed approximately 4-6 weeks apart. Patients should avoid strenuous exercise for 48 hours following treatment. Following treatment, your veins may appear bruised or darker red. This discoloration will fade over the next few weeks. Brown discoloration may take several months to fade.

Patients with a history of diabetes, patients with poor circulation and/or history of poor healing as well as patients who take blood thinners, such as Coumadin or aspirin may not be a good candidate and should consult their primary care physician.

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