Your capillaries are the smallest blood vessels in your body that connect arteries to veins. When these capillaries narrow or widen to quickly, the thin capillary walls can tear, and blood can seep out, giving your skin the appearance of thin red or purple lines. While these lines often are not painful, they can be displeasing in appearance, which is why treatments, such as laser treatments are used to remove them.
Broken Capillary Causes
Broken capillaries occur where the skin is the most thin or sensitive, such as the face--especially the cheeks and nose. Events such as hot weather, strong winds, a sunburn, pressure or trauma to the face or other conditions, such as rosacea, can cause broken capillaries. Dry skin also is considered more at risk for broken capillaries.
Lasers and Capillaries
For those who suffer from broken capillaries, lasers are used to deliver targeted treatment to the skin. Laser light energy is concentrated on the targeted vein. Energy is then transferred from the laser to the vein and absorbed by the blood vessels, which causes the vessel to clog. Because the vessel no longer transports blood, it is then absorbed by the body, eliminating the appearance of broken capillaries.
Pulsed Dye Lasers
Pulsed dye lasers are the most common type of laser used to treat broken capillaries. Also known as a V-beam laser, this laser is used to treat a variety of skin conditions in addition to broken capillaries, including birthmarks, acne scars, port wine stains or spider veins. This type of laser is considered to deliver a fairly painless burst of energy, and the laser light works to both cool the outer layer of skin while targeting damaged blood vessels underneath the skin.
The number of treatments needed to fully eliminate broken capillaries varies based on the number and appearance of broken capillaries. A large network of capillaries may take several treatments, while smaller capillaries may disappear after one treatment. Treatments typically last for 30 minutes or less.
Side effects associated with the broken capillary laser treatment include pain at the time of treatment, which is often described as like a snap of a rubber band. Patients may experience redness or swelling following treatment as well as crusting at the treatment site.
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.