Visible facial veins (spider veins, telangiectasias, spider angiomas, benign vascular lesions)
Visible facial veins, which have
many different names (see above), are actually dilated blood vessels.
They are usually found on the forehead, nose, cheeks, eyelids, neck,
and upper chest. Visible veins are most commonly seen in fair-skinned
women and usually appear in the fourth or fifth decade. Blood vessel
dilation is due to weakening of the elastic fibers in the walls
of the blood vessel. Although the exact mechanisms leading to blood
vessel dilation are not understood, visible veins are associated
with excessive sun exposure, normal aging, steroid use, liver disease,
genetics, radiation therapy, and trauma. On the face, visible veins
can range in size from the tip of a pencil to bigger than a pencil
eraser. Visible veins may be even larger on sites other than the
Visible veins are often considered
to be a cosmetic issue. However, they can be found in people with
rosacea (see rosacea section on this site),
liver disease, and more rarely, autoimmune disease. Hormonal changes
can be associated with visible veins as well. Your physician can
help to determine the cause of your visible veins.
Facial Vein Prevention
Visible veins are often secondary
to sun damage; thus, sunscreen use and sun avoidance are recommended.
Facial Vein Treatment
There are many different treatments
options available for visible veins:
1. Electrosurgery uses an electric
current from a hand held needle. The electric current, when applied
to the blood vessel, destroys it. This method is somewhat painful,
but is usually tolerated because it is quick. After the procedure,
a tiny scab forms which usually heals quickly and with minimal scarring.
2. Lasers are sources of high
energy focused light. Certain lasers, called vascular lasers, are
designed to target a component of blood called hemoglobin. Vascular
lasers destroy the blood vessel and leaving the surrounding tissue
unharmed. The side effects of laser therapy can include pain (similar
to a rubber band snap) and temporary purpura or purple pigmentation
of the skin similar to bruising. The purpura usually resolves in
a day or two. The risk of scarring is low.
3. Intense pulsed light therapy
is similar to laser therapy except broadband light is used instead
of focused light. The procedure itself is similar to lasers, but
there is usually less purpura.
Laser treatments and intense
pulsed light are typically done at four to eight week intervals.
Several treatments may be required. When new vessels appear, patients
return for more treatments.
For more information and specialist in facial veins or spider veins, VeinDirectory.org has an extensive list of spider vein specialist. Please visit www.VeinDirectory.org
for information regarding varicose veins and spider veins.
- » Find a Facial Vein Specialist
All photos courtesy of S. Zimmet, MD and P. Bitter Jr., MD