As you age, you may have noticed a few unwelcome spider veins creeping across your nose and cheeks.
Or a lot more than a few.
These feathery red veins begin appearing on most often in your 40s or 50s. In fact an estimated 75 percent of both men and women will get spider veins in their lifetime.
“The condition, also known as facial veins or Telangiectasias, is believed to have various causes,” said Beth Crotty, a nurse practitioner with the Carilion Clinic Cosmetic Center.
They have been linked to age and genetics, while underlying conditions such as obesity or rosacea (a skin disorder marked by facial redness) are also thought to be contributing factors.
Hormonal changes due to birth control pills or pregnancy are considered to be other possible factors.
Spider veins can appear anywhere on the body but mostly affect the face and legs. They are dilated blood vessels near the surface of the skin.
However there are now treatments available that can diminish or remove facial veins.
“There are two main types of treatment—intense pulse light (IPL) or Fraxel laser,” said Crotty.
Fraxel is the brand name of an FDA-approved laser treatment.
“We use IPL to treat most sunspots and facial veins,” Crotty noted. “We mainly use Fraxel for wrinkles, scars and stretch marks” (on the face but not on the legs).
Crotty or master aesthetician Suzi Bryant perform both treatments at the Carilion Clinic Cosmetic Center.
They can also do combination treatments of IPL and Fraxel.
“It depends on the type and severity of a person’s facial veins,” Crotty said. “The laser is very popular and successful."
An IPL procedure takes about 30 minutes, and the Fraxel laser about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Patients need one to three sessions, and the total cost ranges from $150 to $1,000, depending on the extent of their facial veins.
An initial consultation at the center is free.
“It’s important to come in for a consultation so we can recommend what’s right for you,” Crotty said.
At the consultation, she or Bryant also do a test spot on the patient’s skin.
Because IPL and Fraxel are considered to be cosmetic procedures, however, insurance won’t cover them.
So if you have noticed spider veins, and you’d rather not keep them, you do have options to explore.
If there’s one consolation, you have a lot of company.