Are unsightly blue veins giving you the appearance of dark circles? While not medically problematic, these blue veins can be bothersome, cosmetically unappealing and difficult to conceal, especially if they are on the face or eye area. However, new advancements in treatment allow for a safe and virtually painless removal of these veins, especially in sensitive areas around the eye.
Visible facial veins are actually dilated blood vessels. Visible veins are most commonly seen in fair-skinned individuals, and usually appear in their 40s and 50s. For the most part, these veins are not necessary from a functional standpoint — it is the deeper veins that are primarily responsible for returning blood to the heart. They are usually found on the forehead, nose, cheeks, neck, upper chest and around the eyes or on the eyelids.
Particular areas of concern for most people are those unsightly blue veins around the eyes. The skin around your eye is the thinnest on your entire body. This allows these veins, which are already quite superficial, to become easily visible. They are frequently found on the lower portion of the eyelid and extend over the cheekbone. They can often give the appearance of dark circles under the eye.
There are many reasons why the veins beneath the eyes become even more prominent, including repeated exposure to the sun and advancing age. Over time, the delicate skin under the eye becomes even thinner and the veins become ever more apparent.
Larger blue veins around the eyes can now be effectively treated with a number of different modalities, including laser vein treatments, VeinGogh therapy, and traditional sclerotherapy. Each of these treatments is indicated for specific combinations of skin complexion and size of veins. When performed by an experienced physician, these treatments have a very strong track record for safety, and side effects are rare and generally temporary. These unsightly veins can be eliminated with no downtime and minimal risk. You will notice their complete and instant elimination in a short 10-15 minute treatment session. Usually, just one treatment is required. You can return to work or regular activities the same day. Discomfort is minimal as these advanced laser treatments have outstanding contact cooling mechanisms.
- VeinGogh: This uses a process known as Ohmic Thermolysis to treat a variety of vascular lesions, including facial veins. The power generator produces a “microburst” of high-frequency energy to the tip of a hair-thin probe. This microburst dissipates so quickly that only heat is generated. The heat instantly coagulates the blood and collapses the vessel wall, which is then absorbed by the body. Because the needle directs the heat downward toward the vessels the outer layers of the skin are unaffected, which results in very little trauma to the surrounding tissue and minimal visible blemishes. Generally only one treatment is necessary. However, depending on the specific condition, a follow-up treatment may be required.
- Nd:YAG (1064 nm) laser: This laser uses the theory of selective photothermolysis, which allows the laser light to pass safely through the skin. The selective absorption of blood vessels converts the laser light into heat energy. Heat is conducted to the lining of the vessel wall leading to its injury. All of this happens selectively and without damage being done to the skin or surrounding tissue. Patient response can vary after a vein removal treatment. Erythema (redness) and edema (swelling) around the treated vessels are usually noted within a few minutes after the completion of the procedure and typically have a “cat scratch” like appearance. A sunburn sensation and a slight feeling of soreness in the area treated are also normal and expected. These reactions tend to subside within 24-48 hours after the treatment.
- Intense pulsed light therapy: Similar to laser therapy, except broadband light is used instead of focused light. The procedure itself is similar to lasers. The BBL/IPL Non-Ablative Vascular/Skin Treatment Protocol is effective for treating redness, flushing, blushing, rosacea, red scars and broken capillaries. In contrast to the 1064 laser, it is typically more effective for finer, red vessels that occur on the cheeks and nose. Its effectiveness in treating larger, blue veins is limited.
- Foam sclerotherapy: A treatment for the larger blue veins on the face and around the eyes. This is an in-office procedure where veins are injected with a solution, using small needles, which causes them to collapse and fade from view. The procedure normally takes about 15 minutes when treating the face. Since the injection needle is so small, patients often feel little pain and do not require anesthesia. Sclerotherapy is the most popular choice for doctors and patients for larger facial veins because it is more effective, less expensive, and less painful than any other treatment available. A thorough knowledge of venous anatomy is essential, as some facial veins are not amenable to treatment with foam.
These prominent blue veins can present a significant cosmetic problem because they are difficult to cover up with makeup and tend to make one look tired and old. Thus, many patients are seeking a more permanent solution. Due to the sensitivity of the eye area, it is important to consult with a practitioner who is very experienced in treating under-eye veins. In most cases, the eyes must be protected with eye shields that are inserted into the eye during the procedure.
Dr. Mark Schwartz is the Medical Director at the North Shore Vein Center. For more information, call the North Shore Vein Center at 516-869-VEIN (8346) to schedule a free consultation or visit www.NorthShoreVein.com.