Thread vein removal

What are facial thread veins and broken capillaries?

Facial thread veins are sometimes called spider veins, broken capillaries or telangiectasias. They are little blood vessels under the skin that have become visible.
Blood vessels which are under 0.2mm in diameter usually look red. Some people call these broken capillaries.  Sometimes a network of vessels has formed. Sometimes the vessels are so small that its hard to make each one out and the area just looks like a red or purple patch.
Blood vessels which are more than 0.2mm in diameter usually look dark red, blue or purple. Some people call these thread veins.
Thread veins and broken capillaries can look like:
  • straight lines – usually on the side of the nose
  • like a network, where the lines interconnect
  • like a tree and its finer branches
  • like a star witch a central larger vessel and tiny vessels radiating around it (this is called a spider naevus)
Other vascular lesions that may look like thread veins and are also treated with lasers are
  • cherry angiomas
  • haemangiomas
  • venous lakes
  • port wine stains

Why do facial thread veins and broken capillaries occur?

The skin has thousands of tiny blood vessels running through it. The blood vessels are so small they can’t normally be seen. Collagen supports the blood vessels in the skin and if there is not enough collagen, tiny blood vessels become distended. Because of a drop in collagen, facial thread veins are a common sign of ageing of the skin. In fact, any thing that breaks collagen down can give rise to thread veins on the face including too much sun exposure and smoking.
As the sun is an important cause of collagen loss, people with fairer skins have a greater chance of having more facial thread veins.
Facial thread veins are not always age related and can occur in younger people too.
Other causes of facial thread veins are:
  • After an acne spot or boil – the inflammation stimulates new blood vessels
  • Early acne scarring – a new acne scar may be red or purple becuae of dilated capillaries around the hair follicles.
  • From exfoliating too much – excessive microdermabrasion and use of scrubs may cause thread veins to appear
  • Around a scar – either an accidental scar or an operation site – the bodies healing process
  • From using topical steroids on the face for a long period
  • From having radiotherapy
  • Certain hereditary and genetic conditions like hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasias
  • Too much oestrogen – high levels of oestrogen, such as during pregnancy, can cause blood vessels to stretch

Where do thread veins and broken capillaries occur?

The common places for thread veins and broken capillaries to occur are on the nose and cheeks. However they can occur anywhere on the face, neck and décolleté.

Are facial thread veins a sign of rosacea?

Having facial thread veins does not automatically mean the person has rosacea. Most people with thread veins do not have rosacea. However, most rosacea sufferers will have some thread veins. Other features like flushing, redness of the face, and inflammatory spots need to be present to make a diagnosis of rosacea.

What can I do to prevent thread veins?

Thread veins can be prevented by good sun protection and avoiding smoking. Some thread veins will still occur especially if you are fair skinned.

What can help clear thread veins and broken capillaries?

We offer the following treatments for broken capillaries and facial thread veins. By having a large portfolio of advanced dermatological lasers and devices we are able to give you a treatment best suited to your needs. Sometimes a combination of devices will be used. The treatments offered for thread veins and broken capillaries are:
  • Cutera Excel V laser
  • Sciton BBL – This is an intense pulsed light (IPL) device
  • Ellman Radiofrequency


What is the Cutera Excel V Laser?

The Excel V is an advanced vascular laser, and one of the best in the world that deals with redness, thread veins and rosacea. A laser is a machine that produce pure light of a particular wavelength in a fast burst. In this case, the wavelengths are specifically designed to be picked up by the haemoglobin in blood vessels. Once the light has been picked up by the blood vessels, it becomes heat energy and causes the vessel to collapse. The body then clears away the vessels. Because the light is so specific for blood in blood vessels, it leaves all the other skin components alone.
The Excel V has two lasers in one. The KTP laser wavelength is 532 nm. This is green in colour and has a very large spot. The green coloured light is absorbed by red blood cells. The 532nm light is ideal for blood vessels which are near the surface of the skin and under 0.2mm in diameter. This works best for broken capillaries which are red, redness around acne scars, rosacea, and certain birthmarks.
The Excel V also produces the Nd:YAG 1064nm wavelength. This light is infra-red and is penetrates deeper into the skin to reach deeper and larger thread veins which are blue or greater than 0.2mm in diameter.

What does treatment for thread veins with the Cutera Excel V involve?

The eyes are covered with a shield, and a clear laser jelly may be applied on the skin. The laser is used to trace the vessels, area by area. Each pulse may feel like the flick of a rubber band. The discomfort level is usually no more than 4 out of 10. Capillaries and broken veins can be seen to disappear as the laser is passed over the skin. Sometimes a thread vein may look bruised as the heat from the laser causes a clot. Occasionally a bruise occurs as the vessel bursts open because of the heat. All of these are good results and will mean that the vessels will clear away.
Cold air will be gently blown on your skin during the treatment to cool the skin. The Excel V laser tip itself is a cold piece of glass which also cools the skin. Cooling the skin keeps the treatment comfortable and reduces side effects.

How many treatments are required?

On average, 2 or 3 treatments are required. However, some people may be completely treated after one treatment . The treatment may be planned so as to treat the larger vessels on the first go, and smaller ones on the second go. A test patch is not needed. Treatments are 3 to 4 weeks apart.

How will I look straight after the treatment?

The skin may be red and feel like a sun burn. There can be swelling as well. The blood vessels may have disappeared or or look like a bruise which takes a week to settle. Make up can be used straight away. There is a 2% chance of a blister or scab forming.

What are the results like?

The Excel V laser is very effective at treating thread veins and broken capillaries. While a guarantee can not be provided for individual results, in a recent study looking at the KTP laser, 93% of patients felt their thread veins had cleared or markedly improved.

What are the prices for the Cutera Excel V?

The latest prices are on our fees page. The laser treatment is charged according to the size of the area treated and per treatment. A small area would be equivalent to the nose. An intermediate area would be the equivalent to the nose and cheeks. A large area would be the whole face or whole neck.

Which areas can be treated with the Cutera Excel V?

Any area of the body can be safely treated. The common areas to be treated are the face, neck and the décolleté (upper chest) as well as the legs.

Laser thread vein treatment – key points

  • Why – To clear thread veins
  • Where – Face, legs
  • Frequency – One to three times
  • Results – Immediately
  • Downtime – 1-2 days


Treatment of superficial vascular lesions with the KTP 532-nm laser: experience with 647 patients. Lasers Med Sci 2014; 29:267-271.
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