Broken Capillaries Broke My Heart: Prevention Tips and Best Removal Methods

We all have our skin crosses to bear. For some people it's adult acne, others do battle with general rosacea and then there are the sensitive types, like me, that suffer from localised broken capillaries.

That angry little vein is my arch nemesis - the Will Wheaton to my Sheldon, the Fidelma to my Biddy. Over the years I've had them right in the corners of my nose, and on my cheeks, shoulders and thighs.

So what exactly are these spider veins?

There are tiny, delicate veins just under the surface of the skin, and they are very easily damaged. If these veins dilate and break, they can manifest as a smattering of red or purple bruising. But unlike regular bruises, these won't simply heal over time.

Examples of the dreaded broken capillaries Examples of the dreaded broken capillaries

So before we talk about the big guns needed to shift them, let's talk about some causes and prevention methods:

  • Scrubbing vigorously can easily damage the skin; avoid physical exfoliants.
  • Hot water can cause these tiny veins to break. One of the best tips I ever got from a therapist was never to turn your face directly into the hot spray of a shower - between the water pressure and the temperature, you are just asking for trouble.
  • Wear a good SPF, sun damage is a major contributor.
  • No squeezing spots! The excess pressure can cause the wall of the capillary to tear, allowing the blood to leak out.
  • Alcohol can add to the problem so limit your Sancerre intake.
  • As you get older, the skin gets thinner making the veins more prominent, and while all skin types are susceptible, the damage shows more clearly on pale complexions.
  • Unfortunately not all causes of broken capillaries are preventable. It may be the result of telangiectasia rosacea, a cruel trick of genetics that makes you predisposed to these damaged veins.

Skin Doctors

Once they are in situ, it can be really difficult to give them their marching orders. But here are three options to consider:

  • If you only suffer mildly with these thread veins, you might want to consider just using a green-tinted concealer on the specific area. But this isn't for me - I'd feel like Elpheba.
  • There are plenty of creams that promise to diminish the look of broken capillaries. The ingredients are chosen for their ability to fade the colour, and the application supposedly stimulates circulation. I tried one of these options, Skin Doctors Vein Away Plus (€18.40 for 100ml), that claims to be successful in 80% of cases. I followed the instructions to the letter, but I may as well have been rubbing chicken marinade on my leg. It made no difference whatsoever. Except making me a bit annoyed that I had spent the money on it.

Image courtesy of CosmedicsUK Image courtesy of CosmedicsUK
  • The best way to treat this problem is to go down the laser route - this method worked really well for me. My therapist zapped the individual capillaries with a narrow laser and, despite the reassurances of 'it will just feel like an elastic band flicking against your skin', it actually felt like red hot pokers being bored into my skin by wicked, hairy hobgoblins from Middle Earth. But do you know what? I'd do it again in a heartbeat. The results were worth it - one hour of pain and they were gone forever (well, at least in the three years since I've had it done).
  • Many spider veins will disappear after just one session, while others may need a few courses of treatment.

Do you suffer from the dreaded broken capillaries? What products / treatments have you tried? Share with us in the comments!

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