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Treatment for Broken Capillaries on Face

My skin is very fair and I am in my late 30s. I tried IPL spot treatments (at a medspa chain) but they did not seem to do anything. I'm not sure if it's because the technician used the wrong setting or if my skin is just stubborn and needs a stronger laser. I would like to avoid a lot of downtime if possible. Thank you!

Doctor Answers (15)

Light therapies or electrocautery


First, these are not "broken" capillaries. They are permanently dilated small blood vessels called telangiectasias.

Your treatment would depend on how much money you care to spend. Electrocautery is an old-fashioned, but nonetheless effective, method of treating this problem. This would be a fraction of the cost of laser treatments.

The best laser treatments would include a pulsed dye laser such as the Versapulse or V-Star or a 1064 Nd: YAG pulsed laser.

While the IPL in the green spectrum handles diffuse redness, I am not impressed with its results for telangiectasias.

Virginia Beach Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

"Broken" facial capillaries can be treated by IPL and laser but I don't recommend electro cautery


It sounds like you were treated at very conservative settings by a non-licensed provider (someone not a physician, nurse, or physician's assistant) at the med-spa.  IPL got a reputation for not working because so many spas bought them and had poorly trained staff treat patients at low settings that clients had no results.  In skilled and experienced and licensed hands, it can be very helpful for facial capillaries and redness.  We have worked with IPL since 1995 and published papers on this use.

Other devices such as pulsed dye, KTP, Nd-yag, and diode lasers can be very helpful with facial veins.  The key to successful treatment is a skilled and experienced licensed and board-certified provider.

By its very nature, electrocautery burns through the skin to get to and destroy a capillary.  Yes, it can work, but its risk of scarring is so much higher than the risk of scarring from laser that it is impossible for me to recommend it.

Web reference:

Baltimore Dermatologist
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Spider veins or broken capillaries on the face


We would use a 940nm wavelength diode laser to treat small vessles on the face. I believe that IPL is also another great option. We don't usually inject sclerotherapy for facial veins / capillaries as the blood flow is faster in the face and would "wash out" the sclerosing agent.

Please consult your doctor in person for your specific situation.

Modesto Plastic Surgeon

IPL is good for broken capillaries


You would get better care at a plastic surgeon or dermatologist's office than in a medispa where no doctor is present.  Go to one of these settings for an evaluation and I am sure you will get a better result.

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Laser for facial capillaries


Although I agree with the other experts that the long pulse ND YAG is one of the best treatments for facial vessels, an IPL/ BBL Light based treatment will have less chance of bruising or darkening of the vessels. In my office I have both options available and will often start with the BBL which is one of the best IPL systems on the market and generally gets excellent results. If there are some difficult vessels remaining we may then use a different laser such as my ND YAG to obtain optimal results. Although the laser being used is important, the operator on the other end of the laser is equally /more important. As mentioned earlier, seek out a board certified dermatologist who specializes in lasers in your area.

Boulder Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Nd:YAG laser for facial telangiectasias


I have seen more significant improvements with the Nd:YAG laser for facial telangiectasias. One seeking such treatment should ask the physician (if there is one at all!) what lasers does he/she have available. If there is only one then they will try to make that "fit" even though it is not the best indicated. With multiple lasers a physician can decide which one will be best for your particular problem. Lasers of different wavelengths will have different effects on the target tissues.

Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Treatment for broken capillaries on face.


There are several good vascular laser/light treatments to address facial blood vessels including the pulsed-dye laser, ipl/fotofacial and Nd:YAG long pulsed laser. The settings and particular laser selected depend on the size and depth of the blood vessels. I would consult a board certified physician - in fact in your part of the country, there is a group of dermatologists called Skincare Physicians of Chestnut Hill - experts in laser therapies - that I would consult. The spa may not have used the correct filter or settings on the IPL.

Good luck.

San Diego Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Laser Treatment


IPL is really disappointing in my opinion. While IPL often times leads to less “down time”, results are universally lackluster in most cases. Accepting a day of redness in the area with a stronger laser is the trade-off for more rapid results with fewer treatments for facial lentigines (sun spots). I like the Matrix CO2 laser and Solta’s Permea best for superficial pigment.

Web reference:

New York Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Treating Broken Capillaries


Without examining you in person, it’s important to understand that visiting a specialist in laser treatment is crucial in experiencing optimal results. It is possible that your treating doctor or nurse did not use the correct settings or the optimal IPL or laser machine. All IPL machines are NOT the same. Some cost $20,000 and some cost $120,000. As a board certified dermatologist and vein treatment specialist, I am able to utilize the largest selection of lasers in Southern California to develop a unique treatment for each and every patient. For small  vessels on the face, the most popular treatments that work very well include the pulse dye laser, Nd:YAG lasers and IPL.

Web reference:

San Diego Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Broken Capillaries Spider Veins of Face or Nose


I have seen many patients in my practice that have the same exact story.  Although the issue could be related to the training of the medspa personnel performing your IPL, even in the best of hands the IPL therapy can lead to poor response when used on spider veins or broken capillaries of the face.  It has been my experience that most patients are dissatisfied with the results of using IPL on capillaries / veins of the face & nose.  For this condition we have been using a technology known as Ohmic Thermolysis or Thermocoagulation for years with excellent results, and results that it our hands have been significantly better than IPL.  The technology also goes by the name "Veinwave" or "Veingogh".  The technology was designed exclusively for use on spider veins (unlike IPL which is applied to dozens of different conditions with variable results).

Austin General Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.

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