Redness of the face is caused by growth of many small blood vessels in the face. This can be caused by either sun damage, heredity or by a condition called rosacea, which causes flushing, blushing, dilated blood vessels and pimples. Rosacea is usually accompanied by very sensitive skin, not only to fragrance and irritants but also to heat, sun and alcoholic beverages, causing flushing episodes accompanied by burning, stinging and/or itching.
There are many theories about the true cause of rosacea, but none have been proven. One theory is that a bacteria on the skin that has yet to be identified (and is most likely one that is normally present on the skin) causes an overreaction and irritation which leads to increasing blood vessels. There are 4 types of rosacea: 1) redness and dilated blood vessels only, 2) redness plus pimples, 3) eye and eyelid (ocular) rosacea and 4) rosacea causing swelling and enlargement of the nose (Rhinophyma).
Fortunately, there are many treatments for rosacea, including topical and oral antibiotics and anti-redness creams and serums, laser and light.
Vascular lasers, referring to lasers that are effective for treating blood vessels, are often used to treat rosacea. At Advanced Dermatology we have 3 different vascular lasers. The VBeam, also known as pulsed dye laser, was the original laser used to treat redness of the skin and was originally developed to treat port wine stains or vascular birthmarks. Advanced Dermatology has the newest model of the VBeam which allows us to gently and effectively treat blood vessels and redness without bruising. Another light source we typically use for rosacea is the elight with the SRA handpiece (SRA= skin rejuvenation advanced). This not only treats redness but also brown pigment from sun damage. Dr Taub published a paper, when that technology was first introduced, on its effectiveness for rosacea treatment, not only for the redness but also to reduce the blushing, discomfort and even breakouts of rosacea. Finally, we also have the Vantage/Genesis laser, a 1064 nanometer wavelength that is good for background redness as well as larger blood vessels.
Although most people will benefit from any of these lasers, some seem to do better with one versus another, or we combine them to get the best of each one. We can effectively treat each individuals’ case of rosacea or vessels with vascular lasers.
In addition to laser treatment there are topical gels, creams, lotions and serums both prescription and cosmeceutical that can aid our treatments of rosacea. For instance we have found that the oral medication Doxycycline as well as the topical agents Finacea and Metrogel are excellent for the acne component of rosacea, although not as effective for redness only rosacea. We also recommend treatment with cosmeceutical agents (SkinCeuticals Redness Neutralizer, Pyratine-6 Creme or Pyratine-6 Lotion, skinfo Vital Tea Ultra Serum or skinfo Vital Tea Ultra Cream) to reduce redness. These have specific actions against blood vessel dilation and are highly effective at red-only rosacea. Maintenance with topical therapy is an important component in the treatment of rosacea, even if improved significantly from laser, since it is a chronic condition and without treatment will recur. We also recommend laser ot light treatments every 6-12 months with the lasers to maintain a low level of redness and activity of rosacea.