Various forms of vascular lesions such as telangiectasia (facial thread veins), are amongst the most common cosmetic concerns.
They are completely harmless, but can leave people feeling self-conscious. Studies show that broken veins can be more visibly aging than lines and wrinkles, leading many people to take action.
Listed below are examples of the most common vascular lesions:
Telangiectasia (facial thread veins) are small dilated blood vessels. They are commonly seen around the cheeks and nose. The predisposition to developing facial thread veins is usually hereditary, although they can be caused by a number of things such as pregnancy, hormones, smoking and exposure of the body to varied temperatures.
Rosacea is a common inflammatory condition of the skin, which often results in a red facial flush and accompanying facial thread veins. It most often affects those aged 30 to 60, especially those of Celtic origin with fair skin and blue eyes. It may be transient, recurrent or persistent. The cause of rosacea is unknown, although several environmental factors are known to aggravate the condition such as exposure to weather extremes, spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine. Rosacea cannot be cured but can be controlled through professional treatments and home care products.
Spider Naevi characteristically has a central red papule with feeding capillary legs. They commonly occur on the face or on the backs of the hands and forearms.
Campell de Morgan Spots are small, red, raised spots that most often appear on the body. They appear spontaneously and tend to increase in number in middle age.
Port Wine Stains usually presents as a large flat patch of pink, red or purple skin with well defined borders. At birth, the surface of the port wine stain is flat, but in time it may become thickened and darker in colour. The face is most commonly affected although they can occur anywhere on the body.
Light energy is applied to the particular vascular lesion where it is readily absorbed by the targeted vessel causing a process called thermos-coagulation which means heating the vessel to the point where it is destroyed without affecting the outer layers of skin. Following treatment, the vessel quickly clears as it is reabsorbed by the body, leaving little or no trace of the original lesion. Most red skin lesions, including facial thread veins, rosacea, spider naevi, and port wine stains, can be treated very successfully.
The light applicator is placed on the skin and a short pulse of light is released. The applicator is moved to the neighbouring area and the process is repeated until the entire area is treated. During treatment, protective eyewear will be provided. Treatment is mildly uncomfortable but there is no need for anaesthesia and the procedure is actually quite quick. Sensations vary but most people describe it as a very quick hot pin prick. After treatment the area may feel warm for a few hours. Rarely, some delicate skin areas such as the cheeks or décolleté can be red and slightly swollen for up to 48 hours. Treatments typically take from 15 to 45 minutes depending on the type and size of lesion. In most cases, 3 to 5 treatments are needed for optimum results, though small lesions like thread veins may clear in just a single session whereas conditions such as rosacea could require up to 6 treatments with maintenance treatments every six to twelve months. The degree of clearance will depend on the type of vessel, size, depth and density and therefore 100 per cent clearance cannot be guaranteed. Repeat treatments are spaced every 4 to 6 weeks. Side effects of treatment are closely related to skin type and or/ presence of a sun tan. The darker the skin, the more difficult it is to achieve good clearance of vascular lesions and the more likelihood there is of complications such as hyper or hypopigmentation.