Face and body veins are part of the blood vessel drainage network of the body. Most of these are not evident to the eye. But some can be visible, mostly totally normal, but at times more prominent or varied than they should be. What are these and how can they be treated?
Types of Face Veins
These are the commonest, appearing as a network of (or sometimes single) fine veins often in the upper cheek, below the eye area. They can involve the nose, cheek in front of the ear, chin etc. They tend to be hereditary and relate to fairer skin types. The commonest cause is in reaction to changes in temperature and exposure to the elements, such as with sailing, or being raised in a colder climate. People such as those that work in freezers and chefs (going from cool rooms to hot stoves) tend to acquire them. They can also be associated with a rash like reaction of the face, called rosacea. This can present as a red raised rash over the cheek and other areas. Veins become involved and will flush with coffee, alcohol and other changes.
These usually arise from a central fine arteriole (small artery) and are visible with this central, sometimes raised portion, with fine vein branches radiating away from this (like legs from a spider - hence the name). These can occur for no particular reason, including in childhood. Those occurring in children can at times spontaneously clear. Pregnancy also causes new spider naevi. Again a number of these can disappear after the delivery. More than a few in number, occurring over the upper shoulders and face, can be associated with an increased alcohol intake and its effects on the liver.
These blue, wider veins are deeper, below the superficial skin structure, and can be rather prominent. It is important to ensure there is no anatomical reason why these are so prominent, possibly acting as an alternative route for blood drainage of segments of the face. If they are redundant, then they can be treated readily.
Port Wine Stains:
These usually initially flat, red to purplish lesions, present at birth. The can occur anywhere but are a visual problem on the face. They are composed of a dense network of fine vessels. The best results are from laser treatments. With maturity they can become elevated and irregular.
These are usually not present at birth but present some weeks later as a red mark that grows rapidly sideways and out from the skin enlarging up to about eighteen months of age. From three years onwards they begin shrinking and usually disappear spontaneously by the age of 5 to 6 years. Often there is little left in evidence that there was ever a problem there. At times some indentation of the underlying fatty tissue occurs. Treatment is usually not necessary unless they occur about the eye, closing one, and threatening to interfere with developing vision. Specialised treatment from an eye or skin specialist would be appropriate.
Also called Campbell de Morgan spots, these occur as small well defined red, flat to slightly raised lesions. They tend to occur more frequently as we age. Treatment for these is best with cautery or laser treatment.
Types of Treatment
For details see the treatment section.
Will They Recur:
The more regular scattered fine telangiectasiae can recur, as they seem to have a genetic predisposition link. Obviously, if the irritant cause, such as exposure to temperature extremes, can be avoided, recurrence is less likely. Rosacea, if present, will need treatment to control its underlying process.
The commonest vessels we are aware of on the body are healthy reticular veins - by their name part of the network of the body. We recognise these commonly on our arms and also legs. They can be evident in the central body too.
Some of this is genetic, but loss of the fatty subcutaneous tissue under the skin, whether by deliberate or unintentional weight loss, or hormone changes, can cause them to stand out more clearly.
Usually these have normal flow in them - returning blood back to the heart. But at times they can enlarge and result in reverse flow which can be associated with discomfort and the development of spider veins.
Varicose veins occur as the veins stretch allowing the blood to reverse its flow causing more problems. Usually these occur only on the legs. But certain conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver and other situations which cause compression the returning blood upstream veins can cause them to appear in other sections of the body.
Telangiectasiae, commonly know as spider veins, often occur with variations on varicose veins, especially with the lateral leg vein system. They can also arise at any point of the body in response to an injury and sometimes spontaneously.
Other Body Vein Abnormalities
As with the face other vessel malformations can appear. Some, like the cherry angiomata and strawberry naevi are the same as those described above in the face section.
Major vessel abnormalities can occur in various parts of the body. They can be small or quite extensive. Such major problems require specialist assessment and treatment.
Face and body veins as well as being quite normal can show in many various forms with different treatments available depending on their nature.