When The Veins Break

Some of us have had the occasional plumbing problems with water pipes that lie within our walls.  Sometimes, when a pipe breaks or leaks, you don’t have to rip open the wall or ceiling to know something is wrong, as evidenced in the picture below.


Veins and blood vessels work the same way as water pipes, which should come as no surprise.  However, also like water pipes, veins can break, and the damage they cause, especially in the face, can be more evident than you think.


A fairly common complaint we hear at Maine Laser Skin Care is related to facial redness. Most facial redness is caused by changes in blood flow.  These changes most commonly result from the dilation of existing blood vessels under the skin, creating a diffuse redness or blushing appearance as seen above.

While temporary redness is a normal feature of all skin, persistent individually identifiable blood vessels, especially on the face, can be unsightly.  They are also increasingly difficult to cover up, especially with makeup.

These vessels, when visible, are commonly referred to as “broken veins”.  The correct medical term for them is telangiectasias.

The extent of these broken veins can depend on a number of factors, including age, gender, and family history.  Certain ethnic groups, especially those of northern European ancestry (e.g. England, Ireland, Scandinavia) develop these visible veins particularly later in life.

Certain medical conditions can cause and/or intensify the development of facial veins and redness.   These include hereditary  conditions, chronic use of steroids (seriously), and rosacea.

However, excessive sun exposure is the most common cause of facial veins within the general population.  As always, prevention is the key.  Regular use of sunblock on the face of at least SPF 30 will help prevent future damage.

Unfortunately, even if you’ve been good about applying sunblock in recent years, telangiectasias can still appear on your skin.  The cause is not so much exposure to the sun as it is the result of old skin damage.

Fortunately, there is a treatment for it.  Unlike plumbing, the treatment is non-invasive.  Use of targeted laser techniques can focus on facial veins and redness and improve appearance over several treatments.

Essentially, the laser beam causes heat to build up within the blood vessels, which causes them to collapse. Once collapsed, your body reabsorbs the blood vessels and the blood with them the same way your body reabsorbs a bruise.

Finally, after facial veins are reabsorbed, the use of topical vitamin K helps to maintain and stabilize blood vessels.  Even better, regular use of Vitamin K decreases the likelihood of recurrence.

So if you have broken veins on your body, particularly on your face, don’t call a plumber!  Call us at (207) 873-2158 to either schedule an appointment or determine which non-invasive treatment is best for you.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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