Dear doctor, how can I remove my facial thread veins and skin tags?

27 February 2017

Q: I’ve got a number of thread veins on my nose and skin tags on my neck I’d really like removed. What are my options and will the removal leave scars?

A: You describe two quite common conditions, both of which are easily treated but nevertheless, can be extremely frustrating.

Firstly, little red vessels on the face often appear as we age - prevention through good UV protection with sun block cream when outdoors is important in order to reduce further skin damage. High blood pressure does not cause these vessels to appear, nor does alcohol (although the facial flushing which alcohol can cause will make them more visible).

A generally red face with tiny visible vessels may be Rosacea, a benign condition which is thought to be related to sebum production in the skin. If it is excessive or partially blocked, it can cause an inflammatory red reaction in the skin which will cause red vessels to become visible over time. Good skin care and moisturising regularly may help, as well as azelaic acid (medication cream) to reduce the inflammation and help restore normal sebum production.

The little red vessels can be sealed electronically with a recently developed machine which delivers a tiny high frequency electrical current through a needle tip to the vessels. Discomfort is minimal and you can return to work as usual afterwards.There is a slight reaction in the vessels treated but almost no surrounding skin reaction.

The vessels, once sealed in this way, are slowly absorbed by the body's natural healing processes. Usually, two or three treatment sessions are required and it may be helpful to carry out further treatment after a year or two if further red vessels appear - avoid the sun to reduce the chance of this! 

Secondly, tiny skin tags are very common and occur in places where skin moves against skin, usually the eyelids, neck and under arms. These little tags are quite harmless although, if any skin lesion becomes or changes pigmentation or bleeds you should get it checked by your doctor.

The most efficient and comfortable method for getting rid of these tags is precise needle tip application of radiofrequency electrical signal. This technique will devitalise the tag, causing it to shrivel and scab off with no scarring. It causes a quite tolerable stinging sensation during treatment, with only the slightest discomfort afterwards.

Weight loss and wearing loose clothing may reduce the chances of more tags forming if there is a tendency for clothes rubbing.

Mr Simon Payne is a Consultant Vascular Surgeon practising at Spire Portsmouth Hospital.

The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.

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