Facial veins are generally not dangerous, but they are a cosmetic condition deemed undesirable by men and women alike. Whether they are true spider veins or a result of broken blood vessels, facial veins can diminish your appearance as well as your confidence. Many broken blood vessels are not abnormal in the sense that they don't work. Instead, they are capillaries that have enlarged and dilated due to various conditions. When these small vessels dilate or enlarge, they bulge under the skin due to extra blood and thinning of skin as we age. Those that are close to the skin's surface become more noticeable.
Facial spider veins become more common with age. As you age, the body's veins can weaken and become more likely to stretch when affected by various factors. Facial veins also become more prominent with age due to thinning skin, making dilated veins more apparent.
Understanding Broken Blood Vessels on the Face
Broken capillaries and facial spider veins are similar but have slightly different characteristics. Spider veins occur on the legs and the face, which tend to be concentrated on the nose and cheeks. Capillaries connect arteries and veins and help transport water, oxygen and nutrients between the blood and tissue. They expand and contact constantly. However, sometimes, they become dilated so much that they cannot return to their standard size. When this occurs, they can cause extended skin discoloration that is frequently long-lasting. These capillaries stay over-dilated and remain visible, causing a condition known as telangiectasia.
Although the condition is not painful, it makes the skin look red, splotchy and aged. Some professionals refer to many broken blood vessels in the same area as spider veins. Telangiectasia are generally very fine, superficial veins. When bright red, the blood usually comes from small arteries before the capillaries. If it is blue or purple, the blood is in veins after the capillary network.
Prominent Veins on the Face
Although more common on the legs, bulging veins can occur on the face but typically do not cause the same pain or discomfort. However, bulging veins on the face can make you feel self-conscious, necessitating treatment. Facial veins that enlarge can bulge under the skin due to extra blood pressure, and when they are so close to the skin surface, they are even more noticeable.
Facial Veins: Which Factors Play a Role?
Many different causes play a role in broken blood vessels. Lifestyle choices, environmental factors and even hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause them. Even genetics play a role. These factors all have one thing in common: something excessive occurs where the natural expansion and contraction of capillaries cannot occur, leaving them dilated. Following are some common reasons for spider veins appearing on the face.
Too Much Sun Exposure
The additional heat from sun exposure enlarges blood vessels. When sunburn occurs, the top layer of skin peels away, making capillaries more visible.
Frequent Alcohol Consumption
Skin flushes during light to moderate alcohol consumption because of the enlargement of vessels. Drinking too much or too frequently increases the risk of overdilation. Drinking red wine can also lead to inflammation.
Broken capillaries often accompany rosacea. Underlying inflammatory skin conditions can lead to facial telangiectasia resulting from excess redness. Autoimmune diseases can also cause broken capillaries or spider veins.
Broken blood vessels can have their origin in many different causes, including excessive sun exposure, rosacea, and physical injury. Environmental factors, including prolonged exposure to cold or windy conditions, can cause them. Finally, some people are more prone to developing these problems than others due to genetic factors or unusually thin and/or pale skin.
Bruising can lead to broken capillaries and spider veins appearing on the face. Even popping pimples can lead to sore spots, scarring or broken capillaries. Even home aesthetic treatments like facial steaming are unfriendly to skin cells, and seemingly innocent treatments like facial scrubs with large grains can cause physical trauma.
Dry and Dehydrated Skin
Skin that doesn't retain moisture becomes thinner and contains less tissue. This causes capillaries, fine lines, and wrinkles to become more visible.
Environmental and Chemical Irritants
Winter is a typical time for broken capillaries to manifest. The body needs more energy during this time to regulate temperature and preserve heat, while cold weather constricts blood vessels. When you travel to a warm interior after being outside, the blood vessels rapidly dilate, causing a significant change in pressure.
Some habits can lead to enlarged veins on the face. Examples of lifestyle factors that can lead to overdilation and weakened veins are:
- Exposing your face to water that is too hot
- Exposure to smoking and air pollution
- being in windy areas or areas with extreme heat or changes in temperature
- Rubbing eyes while crying
- Heavy consumption of acidic foods
- Blowing your hose frequently with too much force
- Vomiting, coughing or sneezing
- Drying your face too hard with a towel
Who is at Risk for Facial Spider Veins?
Genetics and some medical conditions put you at greater risk and lead to the appearance of spider veins. These include:
- Sensitive skin or acne
- Family members who have spider veins or broken blood vessels
- Fair skin
- Increased estrogen in pregnancy dilates blood vessels temporarily
- Medical conditions like rosacea, liver disease, scleroderma and lupus
- Increased blood pressure
- Living in an area with hot weather
Treatment for Facial Spider Veins
With the exception of those developing during pregnancy, once you experience the appearance of spider veins on your face, they won't go away on their own. Fortunately, VIVAA has several effective treatment options to make spider veins disappear.
The most important principle to remember when we treat facial spider veins is that they lie above the heart. This fact makes facial veins easier to treat than those on the legs, as doctors don't have to consider gravity, failure of valves or reflux. When selecting a facial vein treatment option, the appropriate one comes down to the color, size and depth of the spider vein and its location on the face. Because the face is almost constantly exposed to the sun, laser therapy is an excellent option for treating facial spider veins with a low chance of producing burns. An additional benefit of using lasers is that they are also effective for treating skin redness and other cosmetic problems.
Intense Pulsed Light therapy (IPL)
Intense pulsed light therapy devices produce concentrated and well-controlled bursts of pulsed white light. In this treatment, we control intense laser lights through various pulses, each with a defined length and resting period between the pulses. White light heats the targeted facial veins, effectively shrinking them back to normal size. Because IPL treatment devices have a wide footprint, this therapy effectively treats large areas like diffuse telangiectasia and rosacea.
Transdermal Laser Therapy
This option to treat spider veins on the face differs from intense pulsed light in that these devices produce a single wavelength\ aligned precisely. Various devices can be used for this laser therapy to target specific pigments or to treat patients with darker skin colors. These lasers use energy to heat the vein walls to destroy veins in the affected area. Transdermal laser therapy is effective for treating thread veins. The KTP laser treats very superficial bright red or bright blue veins on the top layer of the skin, while the ND:YAG is more appropriate for veins under deeper layers of skin.
This non-laser vein treatment is generally used for bulging leg veins but can also be used on the face. Many vein specialists consider its use for facial spider veins controversial because it is an off-label application. Large amounts of the sclerosing agent injected into the affected veins to close the veins can inadvertently reach other areas, causing skin damage and other problems. Specialists usually inject smaller amounts, necessitating multiple sessions to eradicate the affected blood vessels.
How to Prevent Spider Veins on the Face
Although you may not be able to prevent facial spider veins completely, you can take steps to avoid this problem and keep blood vessels healthy. Limit sun exposure and wear protection like hats and sunscreen to prevent sun damage. Avoid excessive heat exposure and very high temperatures from spas and saunas when possible. Avoid alcohol, spicy foods and caffeine, which can make blood rush to your face and enlarge the vessels.
You don't have to live with prominent facial veins. The professionals at VIVAA can help you achieve the vein-free face you desire. Contact us today for more information or to make an appointment.