Broken capillary veins are those thin, spidery, ribbon-like lines that populate on the lower half of your face, such as around your nose, cheeks, and mouth. While covering them up so that your complexion looks truly even is a temporary solution, enlarged capillaries are so stubborn that even using makeup on them can be tough. To find out what the options are for a permanent fix along with what causes broken facial capillaries in the first place, we turned to Dr. Sameer Bashey, cosmetic dermatologist at Obagi Skin Health Institute in Beverly Hills.
First things first: why do capillaries become enlarged in the first place? “Broken capillaries on the face and around the nose can be caused by a variety of conditions. Most commonly, the cause is sun damage,” explains Dr. Bashey. Over time the sun’s rays thin out the dermis of the skin causes a decrease in collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid. “As this occurs, blood vessels become slighlty more obvious and emerge close to the junction between the epidermis and the dermis.” As this occurs, blood vessels become slightly more obvious and emerge close to the junction between the epidermis and the dermis. These slightly enlarged spider veins are usually small dysfunctional capillaries.
People who suffer from rosacea can also develop broken capillaries. These capillaries aren’t always necessary broken, but blood vessels that have a rosacea-induced increase in production, and open and close as a response to environmental and emotional factors. “This is what causes people with rosacea to feel excessively hot or flush,” says Dr. Bashey.
Proper sun protection is the best way to prevent broken capillaries from forming. Along with wearing sunscreen and following a consistent skincare routine that targets whatever your concerns are, whether it’s aging or acne, Dr. Bashey suggests adopting a few lifestyle changes like wearing a hat outdoors, and avoiding tanning or laying out in the sun between the hours of 10AM and 3PM when its rays are the most potent. These steps are extra important to those with rosacea, who are more sensitive to the heat and sunlight.
For a permanent solution, there are a few ways you can treat broken capillaries at the dermatologist’s office. Lasers are one option, and there’s a few different ones that will get the job done. Pulse lasers “target anything on the face that is red and spares surrounding tissue that does not have its target, which is hemoglobin,” explains Dr. Bashey. There’s two settings to this laser: one that bruises and one that doesn’t. “The non-bruising (non-purpuric) setting is less effective and will require more treatments, but essentially does not have much downtime at all,” says Dr. Bashey.
Capillaries that form around the nose are usually treated with an 1064 nd: YAG laser. “This laser is often used for capillary formation around the nose,” explains Dr. Bashey. “It is often the laser to go to when the pulse dye laser fails. It works through a similar mechanism as the above-mentioned laser, but acts deeper in the skin due to its long wave.”
Finally, as an alternative to laser treatments, you can opt for a IPL device. This minimize the redness caused by capillaries forming as well as pigmentation from sun damage.
While all forms of treatment may irritate and cause tenderness during the procedure, aside from bruising depending on the laser setting your dermatologists use, there’s no side-effects or downtime following it. However, Dr. Bashey warns that deeper skin tones may experience pigmentation from the heat-based devices used for treatment.
Afterwards, Dr. Bashey says you can go back to your usual skincare routine and lifestyle. He does suggest applying sunscreen immediately following treatment and avoiding the sun for a few hours.