What are broken capillaries?

Broken capillaries, also known as telangiectasia, spider veins or broken blood vessels, are small, red lines that appear on the face or legs, often in a branching network pattern. They are caused by increased blood flow through the tiny veins and capillaries of the skin, which can result in visible enlargement of the blood vessels.

What causes broken capillaries and redness?

Broken capillaries and redness can be caused by a variety of factors, including sun damage, rosacea, and regular aging. Other factors that can contribute to the development of broken capillaries and redness include exposure to extreme temperatures, excessive alcohol consumption, acne and excessive exposure to topical steroids.

Using IPL therapy to treat broken capillaries

IntensePulsed Light (IPL) therapy is a popular and effective treatment option for broken capillaries. Unlike laser, which uses a single wavelength of light, IPL therapy uses a wider range of light wavelengths to target and destroy broken veins, while leaving the surrounding skin unaffected. The light is absorbed by the blood vessels, which then causes the veins to shrink and eventually disappear. IP is often faster and less painful than laser treatment.

Does IPL for broken capillaries work?

IPL for broken capillaries is a highly effective treatment for reducing the appearance of broken capillaries and redness. Many people experience significant improvements after just one or two IPL treatments. In most cases, however, a series of 3 or more facial IPL treatments is required.

Sometimes, if the blood vessels are large or resistant to treatment, further improvement to the appearance of broken capillaries requires the use of a specialised vascular laser.

What areas can IPL treat?

IPL therapy can be used to treat broken capillaries on the face, legs, and other areas of the body. It can also be used to treat other skin concerns, such as sun damage, rosacea, fine lines and wrinkles, hair removal and spider veins. Results are not as good for larger or raised veins that appear on the legs.

How do I prepare for IPL treatment?

To prepare for IPL treatment, you should avoid exposing your skin to the sun for several weeks before the procedure. You should also avoid using any products that contain retinoids or alpha-hydroxy acids.

Before undergoing and laser or IPL treatment, It's extremely important to notify clinic staff of any medical conditions or medications that might cause adverse effects on exposure to bright or flashing lights. These include epilepsy, migraine and cold sores. Many medications can cause irritation and burning in response to intense pulsed light. The most common is doxycycline. If you are taking any medications that cause photosensitivity, you must check with your prescribing doctor if it's safe to discontinue them for a few weeks before treatment.

How quickly will I see results from IPL treatment?

You may see some improvement in the appearance of broken capillaries immediately after the first IPL treatment. However, most people require several treatments to see significant results. The number of treatments needed will depend on the severity of the broken capillaries and redness, and the underlying skin type and colouring.

With time, as your skin ages and you're exposed to more sun damage, capillaries will begin to reappear. They can usually be managed successfully with maintenance treatments (sometimes just one) each year or two.

Improve your skincare and capillaries with IPL

Intense pulsed light and laser treatments should be considered only one part of an overall skincare program. Careful skin care and periodic IPL or laser therapy work together to maintain the best results.

In addition to IPL therapy, there are other ways you can improve the appearance of your skin and capillaries:

  • Keep sun exposure on unprotected skin to a minimum. Use a broad spectrum 50+ SPF sunscreen daily and consider a broad-brimmed hat if you are going to be outside while the UV index is greater than 3.
  • Regularly use topical skincare products such as moisturisers, retinoids, vitamin B3 and vitamin C to improve and maintain skin health.
  • Be aware of lifestyle effects: don't smoke, stay hydrated and eat a balanced diet containing plenty of vegetables, fish and legumes.

IPL therapy, even if used primarily to target capillaries and veins, can have many other benefits:

  • reduction and removal of unwanted pigmentation
  • treatment of fines lines and wrinkles and lax skin
  • hair reduction
  • Rosacea, sun damage and acne treatment.

For safety, we recommend that you attend a specialist skin clinic or dermatologist for IPL or laser treatments rather than a beauty spa or chain laser clinic. Benefits of consulting a medical clinic include:

  • A doctor examines your skin for signs of skin cancer and dermatological conditions that may require medical treatments other than IPL.
  • The doctor can make sure that you don't have conditions that are made worse by IPL or laser treatment
  • Prescription medications and skin care products are available only from medical clinics. These are usually more effective and less expensive than many cosmetic products.

IPL therapy is an effective and safe treatment option for people wishing to improve the appearance of broken capillaries and redness. By using IPL therapy, along with a good skincare routine, you can improve the appearance of your skin and achieve a more youthful and radiant complexion.