Red veins are a frustrating and common complaint, the result of damage caused by exposure to sun and genetics.
Most commonly they are found around the nose, cheeks, neck and chest appearing as small red webs under the skin’s surface. But they can also appear on other parts of the body, and tend to become larger and more intensive over time, forming clusters on the skin.
The condition is caused when blood vessels expand and rupture on the epidermal surface. The blood becomes trapped and appears as tiny network of veins. Dehydrated, sensitive and thin skin provides less protection and is most commonly affected.
CAUSES OF BROKEN CAPILLARIES TO FACE, NECK AND CHEST
Sun exposure causes a lot of damage to the veins and the collagen surrounding it, as does age, heat, wind, pressure from glasses and anything that makes you flushed or hot. Saunas and alcohol will make them even larger. This is the main reason men come to my office – nobody wants to look like they drink too much!
HOW CAN I GET RID OF THESE VEINS?
There’s little you can do to improve red veins without laser treatment – apart from camouflaging them with make-up. Some conditions, like rosacea, can be treated with antibiotics when they flare up.
If the problem is a very diffused red web under the skin, we use photo-rejuvenation (IPL). These lasers produce a high-intensity ray of pure light. This creates heat energy that is absorbed by different body tissues, depending on the colour (wavelength) of the laser beam. That’s why laser light can pass safely through the skin, and destroy targetted cells without harming surrounding areas. For red veins, the laser beam homes in on the tiny blood-filled vessels beneath the skin – the blood vessel absorbs the light and is destroyed. With IPL there is no real downtime but it must be done multiple times.
Particularly good for very distinct veins is the vascular laser. It is a single wavelength laser targetted straight into the blood vessel. The heat is much stronger and the blood vessel is destroyed completely.
WHAT CAUSES BROKEN CAPILLARIES AND VARICOSE VEINS IN THE LEGS?
Cause of the first is genetics and the second, occupation. When we walk and move around, the blood in our lower extremities is pumped back to the heart. There are valves inside our veins to prevent back flow. Genetically, if the valve is weak, there is an overflow, which causes a lot of pressure and pushes blood into the superficial vessels. Occupations where people are standing a lot, and increased pressure during pregnancy also cause back flow.
In general, red vein symptoms are mild. The most severe is varicose veins where the whole vein is swollen and protruding out from the skin.
These are very painful because there is stagnation. The circulation is stuck because of the pressure and back flow. This means the toxins cannot be removed and there is a lot of acid accumulation – this is what causes the pain. There is no drainage and this is an extreme example of what happens in a toxic environment. When there is no flow – old blood cannot get out, new blood cannot get in, the cells cannot get oxygen and die. Sometimes this becomes so bad an ulcerated wound (stasis dermatitis) will form.
HOW CAN I TREAT THEM?
Massage or support stocking: It helps relieve the pain by bringing blood circulation to the area, draining the acid.
Sclerotherapy: For cosmetic treatment of red veins in the leg we use a sclerosing agent (chemical irritant) like aetoxyscerol Hypertonic Saline etc, injected directly into the vessel that seals it up and it then completely disappears.
For patients who don’t have a lot – one session should be enough. Patients with a lot or larger size vein may need to do it twice.Laser: For very small veins where the needle cannot go in, laser technology is better option.
For prevention of new veins and recurrence after treatment, avoid triggers such as excessive alcohol, sun exposure, spicy food and any cosmetic or cleansers that irritate the skin.