Broken capillaries are those thin, ribbon-like lines that populate the lower half of your face, such as around your nose, cheeks, and mouth. Using some concealer or foundation on broken capillaries is a temporary fix, but they can be tough to cover up.
To find how to permanently get rid of broken capillaries on your face, along with what causes them 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 we get broken capillaries on our face? “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, which causes a decrease in collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid. “As this occurs, blood vessels become slightly more obvious and emerge close to the junction between the epidermis and the dermis.” Usually, these slightly spidery enlarged veins are actually small dysfunctional capillaries.
Anyone who exposes themselves to the sun without proper SPF protection is putting themselves at risk of developing broken capillaries. But, those with some skin conditions, like rosacea, are more prone to getting broken capillaries.
Proper sun protection is the best way to prevent broken capillaries from forming. On top of wearing sunscreen and following a skincare routine that targets your personal skin concerns like aging or acne, Dr. Bashey suggests making a few lifestyle changes. He says to always wear a hat outdoors, and avoid tanning or laying out in the sun when it’s strongest (between the hours of 10 am to 3 pm). These precautions are especially important for those with rosacea because they’re typically more sensitive to heat and sunlight.
How Do You Permanently Get Rid of Broken Capillaries?
An in-office treatment by a dermatologist is the only way to permanently get rid of broken capillaries. Lasers are one option, and there are a few different ones your dermatologist may use. 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 are 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.
Broken capillaries around the nose are usually treated with a 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, but acts deeper in the skin due to its long wave.”
As an alternative to laser treatments, you can opt for a light treatment with an IPL (intense pulse light) device. This minimizes the redness caused by capillaries forming, as well as pigmentation from sun damage through the use of intense, broad-spectrum pulses of light.
What Are the Side Effects of These Treatments?
While all forms of treatment may irritate and cause tenderness during the procedure, the only side effect you may experience is some post-procedure bruising depending on the laser setting your dermatologist used. However, Dr. Bashey warns that deeper skin tones may experience hyperpigmentation from the heat-based devices used for treatment.
Afterward, Dr. Bashey says you can go back to your usual skincare routine and lifestyle. He does suggest immediately applying sunscreen following the treatment, as well as avoiding the sun for a few hours.