Vascular Skin Conditions
There are various types of blood vessels but the three main blood vessels are arteries, veins and capillaries. Capillaries are small, thin blood vessels that connect the arteries and the veins. Your skin is laced with them. Capillaries are located close to the skin’s surface and their thin walls allow oxygen and nutrients to pass to cells from the capillaries and carbon dioxide and waste products to pass from cells back to the capillaries. Their thin walls make them more susceptible to damage - broken capillaries - and their close proximity to the skin’s surface makes such damage more readily visible. These damaged or broken capillaries could result in the appearance of a vascular lesion in the form of rosacea, a telangiectasia, an angioma, or a port wine stain (birthmark).
Rosacea can appear on the neck and chest but it primarily affects the face; particularly in persons with lighter skin tones. The exact cause of rosacea is unknown but research findings suggest that the condition may be caused by facial capillaries which dilate easier than normal or factors impacting blood flow near the skin’s surface. Some of the often quoted factors thought to cause rosacea are: skin bacteria, microscopic skin mites, irritation of follicles, sun damage, strenuous exercise, certain foods, alcohol, abnormal immune or inflammatory response, genetics or psychological factors such as stress.
These triggers may cause an increase in blood flow near the skin’s surface which may make the face to appear red and flushed. Acne may also appear in the redder areas of the face but acne and rosacea are not related skin conditions and have different treatment protocols.
Rosacea, if left untreated, could spread rapidly on your face and in some cases to your entire face in just over the course of a year. The key is to identify it in the pre-rosacea stage and commence your medical treatment promptly. Sticking to your treatment regimen and making some key lifestyle changes have been shown to effectively control rosacea on a long-term basis.
Telangiectasias are an abnormal dilation of the capillaries, arterioles or venules, typically localized just below the skin’s surface, causing them to appear as red, blue or purple threadlike lines or spidery clusters of lines found commonly on the face, nose, chin and cheeks. They can also appear on the chest, back, arms and legs.
People often refer to those that appear on the legs as spider veins but when they do appear on the legs, they often have an underlying connection to varicose veins which might still be hidden. On the legs, they are specifically found on the upper thigh, below the knee joint, and around your ankles.
The cause of telangiectasias is often unknown and many factors may contribute to their occurrence. These include genetics, pregnancy, sun exposure, excessive alcohol use, skin trauma, surgery, acne or prolonged use of corticosteroids or medications that cause blood vessels to widen. Anyone experiencing severe cases of telangiectasia should consult a doctor. There is no cure for telangiectasia, but the condition is treatable. People choose to remove telangiectasias, both for cosmetic reasons and because the condition can cause discomfort.
Spider Angiomas are a type of telangiectasia and is also referred to as spider telangiectasias. Spider angiomas are characterized by the presence of a red, central feeding vessel with outward branches radiating from the centre of the vessel creating a spider-like appearance. Spider angiomas may be caused by injury, sun exposure, pregnancy or use of hormonal contraception. While spider angiomas are fairly common and may be benign having multiple spider angiomas at the same time may be indicative of liver disease and you should consult your doctor. Spider angiomas can be safely removed by cosmetic laser procedures.
Cherry Angiomas, also referred to as red moles or senile angiomas, are a noncancerous skin growth made up of a cluster of capillaries at the surface of the skin. Cherry angiomas are fairly common after age 30, can vary in size and usually occur on the torso. The cause is unknown, but they tend to be linked to genetics, pregnancy, exposure to chemicals, certain medical conditions and climate. Spider angiomas can be safely removed by cosmetic laser procedures.
Port-wine stains are present at birth and are commonly referred to as birthmarks. They usually start out red or pink and over time can darken to a purple or brown color. Port-wine stains tend to appear on one side of the face, head, and neck, but they may also affect other parts of the body. Excessively dilated capillaries, allowing blood to accumulate in them, is the cause of port wine stains. Port-wine stains usually don’t require treatment, but some people choose to have them cleared with laser treatments for cosmetic reasons. Laser treatments may not completely eliminate port-wine stains, but they can make them less noticeable. Consult appropriate medical professionals before commencing any cosmetic treatment for removal of port wine stains.
(Results may vary with each individual and are not guaranteed)
Vascular skin conditions can cause many people to feel self-conscious about their appearance and can sometimes be a source of anxiety and reduced self-esteem. The key to alleviating areas of flushed facial redness, abnormal growth caused by the dilation or formation of new blood vessels, concentration of broken capillaries or vein-like impressions on your face is to seek immediate medical attention at the first sign of the condition. For many vascular conditions there are long-lasting solutions, if not permanent, providing your treatment regimen commences in the early stages and before the condition spreads to larger areas of your face. As the vascular condition advances, the treatment regimen becomes more prolonged.
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) energy is recommended for treatment of vascular skin lesions. IPL treatments when done correctly will not damage the surrounding skin. Light is absorbed by the blood, destroying the vessel. Over time, the vessel disappears, restoring the skin's natural appearance and providing you with clearer, healthier skin.