ASK ID: Broken veins/capillaries

We asked Prof Niki Ralph:

‘Broken veins or capillaries on the cheeks, nose and around the mouth are very common in fair skinned people. They most commonly occur as a result of UV damage over years. UV exposure gradually causes thinning of the epidermis (top layer of the skin), with reduced elastin and collagen and this means the blood vessels become more obvious as they emerge between the junction of the epidermis and dermis(2nd layer of skin). This results in thin, spidery like blood vessels which are red/purple on the cheeks and in the creases of the nose/around the mouth.
Anyone who exposes themselves to the sun without using regular SPF and a hat is at risk of developing these broken capillaries however for those who suffer with Rosacea they are more prone to them.

Rosacea is a very common inflammatory skin condition affecting predominantly the face. It is known as “the curse of the Celts” as approx. 10% of Irish adults are affected by it. There are many subtypes of Rosacea, however the two most common include Papulopustular Inflammatory Rosacea (red spots and pustules on the cheeks and nose) and Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea which is characterised by broken capillaries on the face, with easy flushing after exercise, a change of environment or after consumption of hot food or drinks.

There are some temporary ways to camouflage the capillaries with concealer and make-up however it is not always easy to conceal the larger capillaries. You can also use topical prescription products such as Brimonidine which gives temporary reduction of redness of the capillaries (it lasts approximately 12 hours) however it can be quite difficult to use it effectively without causing significant paleness of the surrounding skin. Temporary control with topical therapies also means you have to plan your day around when to apply the prescription therapy.

A more permanent solution is to use IPL (Intense pulse light). This form of light treatment minimizes the redness caused by capillaries forming. It also has an effect on irregular skin pigmentation (brown pigmentation/ sunspots) making the facial skin look more uniform and more youthful.

IPL is considered a “lunchtime procedure” as there is minimal downtime. A numbing cream is applied to the face prior to the procedure. During the procedure it feels like an elastic-band on the skin’s surface. Treatment takes approximately 30 minutes, depending on areas requiring treatment. Post procedure, we apply a broad-spectrum mineral SPF such as @eltamdskincare and it is vital that you use an SPF daily after that to maintain long lasting effects from IPL. You usually require a course of 3-4 treatments with a gap of 4 weeks between each treatment to achieve optimum results. A course of 4 x facial treatments costs €850.