Like any other imperfection affecting the complexion, telangiectasias can be frustrating, even distressing for the sufferer.
Appearing as red blotches, or even thin tributaries close-up, these broken capillaries lying just underneath the skin cannot be treated with regular facial therapies. In fact, some skin care treatments, such as chemical peels, could actually make the problem worse.
So, what is telangiectasia?
More generally known as spider veins, telangiectasias are actually enlarged blood vessels sitting beneath the surface of the epidermis. They are particularly common around the nose, cheek, and chin area and often bruise-like in appearance.
Both males and females can suffer from this particular venous disorder which occurs at any age. Though it’s often more visible in the fairer-skinned among us. Spider veins also seem to be more prevalent in people affected by rosacea, acne or even sensitive skin and appear to worsen as we age.
The condition compares to varicose veins in that both are a type of venous disease. However, the larger varicose veins are often associated with physical manifestations such as leg pain. Varicose veins can also have some severe consequences to long term health if untreated.
- Telangiectasias, or spider veins, are small, damaged blood vessels
- Spider veins are generally not painful or harmful
- In some circumstances, they may be prone to bleeding
- These tiny thread veins themselves can present as blue, purple, or red thin lines, webs, or branches.
- It’s particularly common to notice spider veins around the nose, chin and cheeks
- The ankles, legs and even the abdominal area can also be affected.
- Treatment for spider veins is purely for cosmetic purposes.
These dilated veins are not crucial to the circulatory system and, in fact, the body establishes its own alternative route for the blood to travel to the heart. This means treatment will not interfere with or damage the circulation. In fact, we often find that treatment actually improves this function.
There is a range of treatment options available to remove or reduce the appearance of spider veins. In this article, we’ll analyse the two most common procedures that deal with permanent removal, look at some of the causes and tell you how to help prevent telangiectasia in the future.
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Why do we get spider veins and is there a way to prevent them?
While there’s no guaranteed method in the prevention of spider veins, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, with a proper diet and adequate physical exercise goes a long way.
However, if you’ve already noticed broken capillaries on your complexion, you must discuss this with your skincare practitioner at your next appointment. Some of your usual therapies may need to be avoided and suitable alternatives recommended. And though some treatments may help with the redness, once you have telangiectasia, you’ll likely need specific strategies to eliminate them.
The fact is that these broken blood vessels can be caused by a multitude of things.
Some of which we have no control over and some that we do:
- Extreme weather
- Excessive drinking and smoking
- Trauma to the skin (which can include UV damage or even excessively squeezing pimples)
But because many factors influence the formation of spider veins, it makes sense that there are some things you can do to help prevent them.
- One of the most common reasons people get thread veins is through excessive sun exposure. We know that daily sunscreen application is a crucial tool in preventing skin cancer and sunburn. Still, too much sun also makes us more susceptible to spider veins, particularly around the face. Sun protection is vital for everyone but is particularly essential for those with a paler complexion.
- People often assume that tanning will hide the appearance of spider veins. In fact, it will likely exacerbate the problem. When we expose our body to UV rays, collagen breaks down, causing capillaries to get thinner and spread out. That’s why we highly recommend that our clients take particular care to protect the face from the sun’s rays. Wearing hats and sunglasses are an essential part of sun protection. Still, we urge all of our clients to avoid tanning beds entirely.
- Simply standing erect while blood travels upwards to the heart can be a challenge for our body. Our circulatory system requires calf and thigh muscles to work efficiently. Using our leg muscles properly helps pump blood up through our body, which is why walking is often endorsed as a simple way to improve circulation.
- To prevent the blood from flowing in the wrong directions, valves in the leg veins only open upwards. When these valves stop working correctly, spider veins and varicose veins can form.
- Both obesity and occupations involving prolonged standing can influence the development of telangiectasias, so regular physical activity also plays a part in prevention. Specialised venous support stockings may also help prevent dilated blood vessels from developing in some people.
- Similarly, pregnancy can also restrict blood flow in the abdominal area contributing to both varicose and spider veins. And again, exercise plays a vital role in prevention here. Also, try elevating the legs periodically or even consider maternity support stockings.
- The way we manage our skincare routine can also encourage the formation of these red blotches on the face and body. So being generally more gentle when it comes to our daily cleansing routine can be a preventative measure. Avoid washing in water that’s too hot or excessively cold and visit your skincare technician regularly for professional treatments and advice when it comes to the complexion.
What are the most conventional clinical treatments, and what will the results be?
Sclerotherapy is the traditional treatment for both varicose and spider veins. In fact, it has been the standard procedure for spider veins for decades. This surgical procedure involves the injection of a solution into the blood vessel itself. This sclerosing liquid targets the wall of the artery, which over several weeks, will mostly fade away. Larger reticular veins will often underlie spider veins, so these vessels are usually treated too.
- Compression bandages or stockings may need to be worn for some time following sclerotherapy for spider veins.
- Most patients can expect a vast improvement in the appearance of the veins following treatment. However, there may be some initial bruising. Recovery following this type of surgery may be gradual, and it can take up to several months to see the final results.
- Initially, there may be a red, raised areas at the injection sites though these will generally disappear within a day. Bruising may also occur at the needle site, but this should be gone in a few weeks.
- Aching in the legs for the first day or two following treatments may also occur but is usually relieved by regular, gentle walks.
Yellow light laser – Nd: YAG laser
These days, laser treatment is also available. The Cutera® Nd: YAG laser is highly effective and safe to use on the legs and face and without the use of needles. This eliminates much of the bruising and redness associated with sclerotherapy. This particular procedure is highly efficient anywhere on the body and is perfect for sensitive areas such as the complexion. It can also effectively treat port-wine stain birthmarks, rosacea and other vascular conditions. This advanced treatment is beneficial and can be done out of the hospital with an almost immediate return to normal activities.
The laser itself works by delivering a pulse of energy which heats the blood inside the vein. The machine emits a high intensity, narrow beam of light, and is a proven technology. Yellow light lasers are now commonly used to manage a variety of vascular abnormalities.
- These pulses of light energy to treat the deeper tissues beneath the skin, targeting the large, harder vascular structures. The abnormal vein is destroyed and readily reabsorbed by the body without damaging the sweat glands, hair follicles and connective tissues.
- As the beam is projected onto the skin, the irregular dilated blood vessels sustain damage. These capillaries will heal over the next couple of months, resulting in narrower vessels. Making them much less visible.
- Because the healthy skin between vessels is undamaged, the risk of scarring is minimal.
- The laser does not produce rays identified as being harmful to patients. And there is no reason to expect any risk of developing skin cancer in lasered areas in the future. Though specially developed eye protection is used whenever the laser is in operation because the eyes are vulnerable.
- Facial telangiectasia, port-wine stains, spider naevi, cherry angiomas and blood vessels associated with scarring can also benefit from this treatment. Though facial spider veins are typically the most common vascular problems treated with this technology.
What to expect with The Cutera® Nd: YAG laser
Ordinarily, a photograph of the affected area will be taken immediately before the procedure. Then once the client has been prepared, appropriate eye protection is provided. If laser work is undertaken on the face, lead eye guards will be used, and goggles may be provided for treatment on other areas of the body.
Is it painful and what type of pain management will be available?
- There may be an easily tolerated sharp, pricking during the treatment. However, a cooling agent is applied before each laser pulse.
- Feelings of discomfort will vary between each client and depends on the patient’s pain threshold.
- Your initial consultation with the medical practitioner will include a discussion about pain relief. Though, the usual advice is to take an over the counter pain medicine an hour before treatment.
- Post-treatment, ice will likely be needed to relieve any discomfort and to help reduce inflammation. And expect the skin to be red and swollen for a few hours. These side effects don’t last long, and though you may have some mild swelling the next day, it will likely be minimal. In some instances, there may be a change of slight bruising.
Aftercare following laser treatment of facial spider veins
The broken vessels themselves will begin to shrink or will have wholly disappeared immediately following laser treatment. And while they may reappear a day or two later, they will disappear permanently over the following six to eight weeks.
Facial telangiectasia generally requires two to three treatments, as discussed by your consultant. In some instances, a patient needs ongoing laser therapy, for example, if a birthmark is being removed. This may mean every couple of months over a year.
Depending on the cause of the vascular condition, these broken capillaries may reappear sometime after the initial laser treatment. While not uncommon, particularly with sun damage, acne or rosacea, these spider veins are usually only minor and can be retreated.
There are some things you can do following laser treatment to promote healing and best outcomes following surgery:
- Avoid strenuous exercise for 24 hours following the procedure.
- Take sun protection seriously post-treatment to maintain long term results. Generally, that means using a sunscreen 50 + daily.
- Make topical Vitamin C part of your regular skincare routine to help maintain results and speed up recovery.
- Directly following any procedure for facial spider veins, patients must avoid facial scrubs/ microdermabrasion or harsh skin treatments for 2-4 weeks or as advised by your specialist.
Things to consider before any procedure
When considering treatment for facial spider veins, or any other types of venous disease, seek out remedies that offer medical-grade, and industry-approved laser technology. Guaranteeing your safety and delivering the best results.
When choosing a consultant, be sure to undergo an individual and thorough interview before treatment. Make the most of this consultation by asking lots of questions regarding the procedure and listening to your practitioner’s instructions and advice.
Do your own research too. The more informed you are, the more likely you’ll understand the best therapies available to you. And make sure you feel entirely confident with your specialist and their support crew.
The best treatment options for you may include a combination of therapies for the most effective results. But it’s practising proper home care managed by a doctor-led cosmetic clinic that is the vital element for the best long term outcomes.