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Broken capillaries are very common. They usually measure only a few millimeters, and can develop anywhere onthe body. They are most commonly found on the face around the nose, cheeks, and chin. They can also develop on the legs, specifically on the upper thigh, below the knee joint, and around the ankles. When it comes to treating broken capillaries we are your best bet.

What are Broken Capillaries?

Capillaries connect arteries and veins, and help transport nutrients such as water and oxygen between the blood and tissue. They normally expand and contract in size all the time, similar to a rubber band being stretched. However, at times they can get dilated too much to the point that they are no longer able to return to their original smaller sizes. The capillaries stay overdilated and remain visible as a result. This condition is known as telangiectasias, or broken capillaries. They are commonly found in the face, and also the legs (known as leg veins).

These broken blood vessels are not actually abnormal in the sense that they don’t work. They still perform their normal functions of transporting nutrients with no issues. The blood vessels are simply unable to shrink down to a smaller size due to being overstretched, and do not repair themselves. This condition is not painful and is usually a cosmetic concern only, but it does make the skin look red, aged, and splotchy. A high amount of broken capillaries in the same area are frequently referred to as spider veins.

What Causes Them?

Because blood vessels expand and contract all the time, there are numerous causes that may lead to the development of broken capillaries. The concept is simple though – something excessive causes the blood vessels to get dilated too much.

Some examples are below. Because there are numerous reasons why capillaries can become over dilated, this should not be considered a complete list. A few of the common causes include:

Sun exposure

The additional heat from the sun enlarges blood vessels. Sunburns can cause the top layer of skin to peel, which then makes capillaries more noticeable. Sun damage can also lead to skin cancer.

Alcohol consumption

Light to moderate alcohol consumption causes the skin to flush due to the enlargement of vessels. Heavy drinking increases the risk of overdilation. Drinking too much too frequently can lead to spider veins. Red wine especially can also lead to inflammation.


Bruising can lead to broken capillaries and spider veins in both, the face and legs. Even simple actions such as popping a pimple has the potential of leaving a sore spot, scarring, or a broken capillary. Certain home treatments such as DIY facial steaming are not skin friendly, and some facial scrubs can cause excessive physical trauma – especially scrubs with large grains. Treatments such as these should always be performed by a professional aesthetician, and are not advised to do on your own.

Dry and dehydrated skin

Dry skin causes the skin to become thinner and contain less tissue. This can cause capillaries and other conditions such as fine lines and wrinkles to become more visible.


Broken capillaries are very common in inflammatory conditions such as rosacea. Often, an underlying inflammatory condition such as rosacea can lead to having many telangiectasias on the face as a result of excess flushing. Similarly, autoimmune disease can also cause broken capillaries or spider angiomas.

Environmental/chemical irritants

Broken capillaries are very common during the winter. Because the body needs to use more energy to regulate temperature and preserve heat, the cold weather constricts blood vessels. Going inside someplace warm after being outside causes capillaries to rapidly dilate, and places them under a large change in pressure. Water based moisturizers can also freeze on the face in cold weather.

Certain everyday lifestyle factors can also lead to the development of broken capillaries. Some of these can be unavoidable depending on the circumstances, and others may just be a natural habit that is a part of an everyday routine. Examples of lifestyle factors that can cause overdilation are:

  • Exposing your face to water that is too hot (eg: face steaming). When washing your face, use gentle warm water instead

  • Rubbing eyes while crying

  • Being exposed to smoking and pollution

  • Being in very windy areas or places with extreme changes in weather

  • Heavy consumption of acidic foods (sugar, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, meat, dairy, refined starches)

  • Blowing your nose with too much force too frequently. This puts pressure on the face

  • Wearing glasses that press on certain areas of the face

  • Vomiting, coughing, and sneezing. Sudden and extreme pressure from a violent sneeze or cough can break blood vessels

  • Drying face too hard with towel

  • Being on your feet all day – this is a very common cause of spider veins and varicose veins in the legs

  • Smoking – this weakens the blood vessels and greatly increases the chances of overdilation

Candidates with Higher Risk

Some people are more predisposed to the development of broken capillaries due to genetics and other uncontrollable variables. Generally speaking, the candidates have a higher risk if they possess one of more of the following traits:


  • Having sensitive skin or acne

  • Genetics or a family history of having broken blood vessels/spider veins

  • Fair and pale skin

  • Pregnancy – this causes an increase in estrogen. These usually heal on their own after pregnancy

  • Patients with rosacea. Due to excessive redness and flushing, broken blood vessels are very common

  • Increased blood pressure

  • Living in an area with hot weather

  • Certain diseases, especially ones affecting the liver. The liver normally helps break down estrogen and progesterone. When these hormones, rise they cause dilation in capillaries


Broken capillaries appear as a cluster of red lines near the skin’s surface. These are not painful, and are mainly an aesthetic concern. They are most often found in the face, especially in the undereye and nose regions. Spider veins are simply multiple broken capillaries in the same area. These are much more common on the legs, but can also appear on the face depending on the causes.


Broken blood vessels vary in size, and can manifest as a few small dots to lines spreading across the area. They can easily be noticed at home while looking in the mirror. As collagen decreases with aging, these can also become more visible along with other conditions such as wrinkles and age spots.


Sometimes, broken capillaries can be mistaken for acne scars instead.


This condition is generally permanent, and requires treatment in order to make it go away. It is possible for lightly damaged capillaries to heal themselves within 3-6 months time; however, anything that remains longer than that will most likely remain forever.

Your Treatment Options

Laser Skin Treatments

One of the most effective options available that can greatly reduce the appearance of broken capillaries in the face are laser skin treatments. The lasers are targeted directly at the blood vessel, and leave the surrounding healthy tissue intact. The laser’s light is absorbed by the hemoglobin, which vaporizes the blood and causes that capillary to collapse. The body will then naturally dissolve what is left. There is minimal downtime involved with these laser treatments, and most patients often return back to work immediately after their procedure. Laser treatments are typically a permanent solution to already damaged capillaries, but they do not prevent brand new ones from forming.


Skin Care Products

Prevention is key when it comes to broken capillaries. The right facial treatments can help shrink vessels, reduce facial redness, and provide protection from external stressors. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can broken capillaries be prevented?

Certain measures can be taken to minimize them from occurring however.

Sunscreen is one of the most effective forms of protection against broken capillaries, and can stop already broken ones from becoming worse. Regular use of sunscreen also protects against other age-related concerns such as sun damage, wrinkles, and age spots. The use of sunscreen also greatly reduces the risk of developing skin cancer as well.

Vitamin C helps strengthen blood vessels. This is one of the main components in the capillary walls, and promotes collagen synthesis. Vitamin C also helps build the immune system to reduce the risk of getting sick, and thus limiting the chances of violent sneezes or coughs.

Other preventative measures include:


-Limiting sun exposure

-Avoiding extreme heat

-Alcohol in moderation

-Protective gear for injuries (eg: helmets for sports and cycling)

-Avoiding rubbing and pulling of the face

-Avoiding picking and popping of acne

What about preventing leg veins?

Weight control is a key prevention method. Too much pressure on the legs due to having a high weight can lead to spider veins, and can also damage the leg valves which leads to varicose veins. A high weight also leads to the development of higher blood pressure which can cause capillaries to become overdilated in addition to other critical health risks.

Regular exercise to improve leg strength and blood circulation is another great preventative measure. Exercises that focus on legs, such as walking or running, reduce blood vessel pressure in the legs by allowing more circulation. In addition, these exercises can facilitate the cardiovascular system and assist with weight control.

Do they go away?

Over dilated capillaries as a result of pregnancy often diminish in appearance as well, but may not become completely restored and can still remain visible.

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