Broken Capillaries On Legs

Capillaries are the smallest blood vessels in the body and are responsible for carrying nutrients and oxygen to body tissues and organs. Capillaries are skinny and delicate and they move blood a long one blood cell at a time. Some of the capillaries are found on the surface of the skin.

When a capillary gets broken, it forms a thin, blue or red thread that is visible on your skin. This is mostly observed on the face and legs or in areas where the skin is thinner and capillaries are very close to the surface of the skin.

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The thread resembles the pattern of the spider web and that is why broken capillaries are referred to as spider veins.


Many factors are responsible for broken capillaries on legs such as

  • Genetic factors: Genetic factors are considered a cause of broken capillaries in some people. According to medical research, familialgenes are responsible for broken capillaries in some people. Your risk of having broken capillaries is higher if your family members have familial genes.
  • Hormonal imbalance: Changes in hormones is associated with broken capillaries. Hormonal changes during adolescent or puberty, pregnancy and menopause tend to trigger this condition. Changes in estrogen and progesterone hormones can cause broken capillaries to develop on your skin.
  • Pregnancy: There are many changes that occur during pregnancy that can break capillaries on your skin. One major change is hormonal change in expectant women which can cause broken capillaries to appear on their skin. Another change is pressure exerted on the blood vessels and abdomen as the fetus grows in the womb. In addition, there is an increase in blood flowing through the veins of expectant women which may cause broken capillaries to appear on the skin.
  • Injury or trauma: Injury on your skin can cause capillaries to appear on the skin. Blood vessels are very sensitive to any damage and can break in many different ways. Broken capillaries can develop when you fall from a building on your legs.
  • A person with a previous leg injury is at higher risk of developing broken capillaries on the skin. This is because the injury may prevent smooth flow of blood vessels in your veins thus causing broken capillaries on your leg.
  • Occupation: The work a person does can also cause broken capillaries to appear on his/her skin. People who work as security guards, teachers, and transit officers spend many hours standing and sitting. This disrupts circulation of blood around their bodies and it may lead to appearance of broken capillaries on their skin.
  • Environmental factors: Environmental factors such as higher temperatures can cause broken capillaries to appear. Exposing yourself to extreme temperatures can damage your skin and cause broken capillaries to develop.
  • Abrupt changes of climate from hot to cold can also break capillaries on your skin especially on the chest. Too much exposure to the sun can worsen the existing broken capillaries. Broken capillaries become worse during summer.
  • Obesity: Obesity is one of the main causes of broken capillaries on your legs. It creates an additional pressure which interrupts flow of blood in your veins. In obese people, the skin is extremely stretched which can cause the capillaries to break.
  • Smoking and alcohol: Alcohol consumption can also break capillaries on your skin by increasing blood pressure. Drinking alcohol in excess can damage your liver and also influence broken capillaries to develop.
  • Smoking cigarettes can cause cells to oxidize which disrupts flow of blood around your body. Poor circulation of blood in your body causes weak and less resistant capillaries which are more likely to break.

Treatment for Broken Capillaries on legs

Many treatment options are available to eliminate broken capillaries. They include:

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Laser therapy: Different lasers can be used to treat broken capillaries but the common ones are KTP and PDL lasers. They involve use of a beam of light with different wavelength and intensity to eliminate broken capillaries. In this treatment, your doctor places a handheld device on your skin which releases a light of different frequency to destroy the broken capillaries.

Intense pulsed light: This treatment method involves use of Sciton’s BBL device that produces high intensity light into the capillaries and the heat shrinks the blood vessel which eventually fades away. This treatment should be repeated for three days to boost healing.

Sclerotherapy: In this method, your doctor injects a salt solution into the affected vein. This causes the vein to collapse and stick together and is then cleared off the skin.

Topical treatment: Certain topical medications may also be used to treat broken capillariesBrimonidine topical agent may be used to shrink the red vessels and reduce redness on your skin. Apply it directly on the affected skin and it takes about half an hour to start operating.

You can prevent broken capillaries by doing simple regular exercises to strengthen muscles and improve blood flow in your legs. You can do exercises such as walking or running to strengthen your leg muscles.

Broken capillaries on legs – pictures



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