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How to Treat Unsightly Broken Blood Vessels on Your Face

Broken blood vessels on your face can look like red lines or splotches, and you might not like their appearance. If so, a simple procedure can make them less visible. “A lot of people are bothered by the appearance of these blood vessels, and they don’t know they can be treated,” said Joshua Tournas, MD, a dermatologist at Banner Health Center in Sun City West, AZ.

Although commonly referred to as broken blood vessels or “spider veins”, Dr. Tournas explained that these blood vessels aren’t actually broken, they’re enlarged or dilated, and they’re called “telangiectasias”. They generally appear around your nose and on your cheeks.

They are more common in:

  • People with lighter skin
  • People who have rosacea
  • People who have had a lot of sun exposure over time
  • Men, possibly because women are more likely to protect their skin with makeup that contains sunscreen

How can you prevent broken blood vessels?

You can’t eliminate the chance that you’ll develop broken blood vessels. But you can reduce the likelihood that you’ll get them if you stay out of the sun and protect your skin with sunscreen, especially in the creases alongside the nose. If you have rosacea, make sure you see a dermatologist to control it and reduce the odds of developing broken blood vessels.

How can you treat broken blood vessels?

Laser treatments can reduce the appearance of these blood vessels. “We use specific wavelengths of laser light,” Dr. Tournas said. “It’s like creating a controlled injury to the blood vessel, so the walls of the vessel get inflamed and irritated, and then they close.”

You don’t need to be numbed ahead of time for the small, quick treatment. “It feels like a rubber band hitting the skin,” Dr. Tournas said. Your skin might look dark purple or inflamed immediately after the treatment, but physically you can go right back to work or your normal activities. And within a day or two, the discoloration and inflammation usually subside.

Most people need a small series of treatments. While broken blood vessels usually can’t be eliminated 100 percent, they can be significantly reduced. “Most people are pretty happy with the cosmetic outcome,” Dr. Tournas said. “The laser is not a magic eraser, but it works really, really well.”

In some cases, people with thicker, more porous skin will have a groove or channel where the blood vessel used to occupy space. But most people find the small groove is preferable to the red appearance of the broken blood vessels. Your dermatologist can talk to you about the likelihood of developing these grooves.

Since the treatments are considered cosmetic, insurance almost never covers them. You can expect to pay a few hundred dollars for each treatment, and you may need two or three treatments spaced four to six weeks apart to achieve the results you want.

And in the future, you may want to repeat the procedure. “Even if we clear a lot of those blood vessels, the process that created them is not affected by treating them on the outside. So, some years down the line, you may want touch-up treatment,” Dr. Tournas said.

The bottom line

You may not like the appearance of broken blood vessels on your face. But a simple office procedure can make them less visible. If you would like to talk to a dermatologist about treating your broken blood vessels, reach out to Banner Health.

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