What Is Facial Plethora?

What does it mean to have facial plethora? 

Facial plethora involves facial swelling and redness. It’s a symptom of another condition, rather than a condition itself.

It occurs when blood flow to your face increases. It can also happen when the amount of blood in your body increases.

The underlying causes of facial plethora vary greatly, and treatment depends on the specific cause.

 What can cause a plethoric face? 

Several possible conditions can cause facial plethora. They include:

Cushing syndrome

Facial plethora is a main symptom of  Cushing syndrome , a rare condition that’s caused by high levels of cortisol, known as the stress hormone.

The hormone cortisol is produced by your adrenal gland. It’s involved in bodily functions like the stress response, metabolism, and inflammation.

 Too much cortisol  can happen if you have a tumor in the pituitary or adrenal gland. The tumor causes your body to overproduce cortisol, leading to high levels. It can also happen after taking  corticosteroid  drugs, like prednisone.

High levels of cortisol can increase blood pressure. This increases blood flow in the skin on your face, resulting in facial plethora.

Superior vena cava syndrome

T he superior vena cava (SVC) is a major vein in your body. It brings blood to your heart from your chest, head, neck, and arms.

Some types of cancer, like lung cancer, can partially or completely block the SCV. A blood clot can also block the SCV. If this happens, a group of symptoms called superior vena cava syndrome (SCVS) may develop.

In SCVS, the blockage of blood flow causes upper body swelling. This can lead to symptoms like facial plethora. 

Carcinoid syndrome

Neuroendocrine cells are involved in basic bodily functions. They work by sending information via hormones.

If neuroendocrine cells develop into a tumor, it’s called a carcinoid tumor. Carcinoid syndrome happens when the tumor spreads to your liver and makes too much serotonin.

The tumor releases chemicals into the bloodstream, causing a range of symptoms. Some chemicals widen the blood vessels and increase blood flow, resulting in facial swelling.

Polycythemia vera

Polycythemia vera is a rare blood disorder that causes excess production of red blood cells. This increases red blood cell mass, causing thickened blood and swelling.

The swelling can lead to plethora of the face and palms.


Rosacea is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder. The inflammation can cause facial flushing and swelling.

In people with lighter skin tones, the flushing appears red. In those with darker skin tones, it may look like brown discoloration.

Other symptoms of rosacea include:

  • acne-like breakouts
  • thickening skin
  • burning
  • warm skin


sunburn happens when ultraviolet rays from the sun damage skin cells. This causes your body to release inflammatory substances, resulting in dilated blood vessels and increased blood flow.

The increased blood flow leads to swelling and redness, or facial plethora.

 Is facial plethora a symptom of a syndrome? 

In some cases, facial plethora may indicate a syndrome.

According to a 2015 study, facial plethora is one of the first identified symptoms of Cushing syndrome. It’s also one of the first symptoms to get better as Cushing syndrome is treated.

Facial plethora may also be caused by SVCS or carcinoid syndrome.

 What are the features of facial plethora? 

Facial plethora involves a group of features, rather than a single characteristic. It generally involves facial symptoms like:

  • swelling and increased roundness
  • increased puffiness in your cheeks
  • redness (on lighter skin tones)
  • brown discoloration (on darker skin tones)

 Does facial plethora pose other health risks? 

The symptoms of facial plethora may be uncomfortable. But there’s no research stating that facial plethora itself is linked to complications.

However, if the underlying condition goes untreated, it may lead to complications. The condition may get worse or cause other side effects.

That’s why it’s important to contact a healthcare professional if you think you have facial plethora.

 How is facial plethora treated? 

Treatment for a plethoric face depends on the condition causing it. Treatment may include:


A healthcare professional may suggest using medication for the following conditions:

  • Cushing syndrome. A doctor can prescribe medications that lower your cortisol levels.
  • SVCS. If this condition is caused by a blood clot, a therapy called thrombolysis can be used to break down the clot. This procedure allows medication to get to the site of a blood clot and dissolve the blockage.
  • Carcinoid syndrome. Some medications can block the chemicals produced by a carcinoid tumor.
  • Polycythemia vera. If you have polycythemia vera, you might need medication to reduce red blood cell production.
  • Rosacea. A dermatologist can prescribe topical medication to manage rosacea symptoms.

Chemotherapy or radiation

Chemotherapy or radiation treatment may be used for tumors that cause:

  • Cushing syndrome
  • SVCS
  • carcinoid syndrome


In certain cases, you might need surgery. This option may be used for tumors that cause:

  • Cushing syndrome
  • SVCS
  • carcinoid syndrome

If SCVS is caused by a blood clot, surgery may be used to insert a stent or remove the blood clot.


Facial plethora is characterized by facial swelling and puffiness. It can cause redness in lighter complexions and brown discoloration in darker skin tones.

It’s a main symptom of Cushing syndrome, but it may also be a symptom of SVCS and carcinoid syndrome. Other causes include polycythemia vera, rosacea, and sunburn.

Treatment depends on the specific cause. If you experience facial swelling and discoloration, reach out to a healthcare professional for a diagnosis.

Adrenal Gland Lump Led to 5-year-old Developing Cushing’s, Starting Puberty

Non-cancerous adrenal gland tumors can lead to rare cases of Cushing’s syndrome in young children and puberty starting years before it should, a case study of a 5-year-old boy shows.

Removing his right adrenal gland eliminated the problems, the Saudi Arabian researchers said.

Their report dealt with tumors in epithelial cells, which line the surface of many of the body’s structures and cavities.

The research, “Testosterone- and Cortisol-secreting Oncocytic Adrenocortical Adenoma in the Pediatric Age-group,” appeared in the journal Pediatric and Developmental Pathology.

Most tumors in adrenal gland epithelial cells are benign and generate normal levels of hormones. But there are cases when the tumors over-produce steroids and other kinds of hormones, including sex hormones. Sometimes the over-production can lead to Cushing’s syndrome.

The 5-year-old boy’s over-production of adrenal gland hormones led to both symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome and signs that he was starting puberty, the researchers said.

One reason the case was rare is that the average age when Cushing’s develops is 40, doctors say. Another is that epithelial adrenal gland tumors account for only 0.2 percent of all tumors in children, the researchers said.

Signs that the boy was starting puberty began appearing eight months before his parents took him for treatment. Doctors discovered he had the weight gain and rounded face associated with Cushing’s, but a battery of tests detected no other problems. No family members were experiencing the symptoms he was, doctors added.

Biochemical tests showed that the boy had a high level of cortisol in his blood, which doctors were unable to lower with the corticosteroid suppression medication dexamethasone.

Physicians also discovered that the boy had elevated levels of the male hormone testosterone, the cortisol precursor 17-hydroxyprogestrone, the cortisol-releasing hormone adrenocorticotropin, and another male hormone that the adrenal gland produces — dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate

In contrast, doctors discovered a below-normal level of luteinising, a sex hormone that the pituitary gland generates.

Another unusual manifestation of the boy’s condition was that his bone growth was that of a child a year older than he.

Doctors discovered a non-cancerous tumor in his right adrenal gland that they decided to remove. When they did, they discovered no evidence of bleeding, tissue scarring or cell death.

They put the boy on a hydrocortisone supplement, which they reduced over time and finally ended.

Twenty-eight months after the surgery, the boy showed no signs of Cushing’s disease or early puberty. And his weight, cortisol and adrenocorticotropin hormone levels were normal.

“To the best of our knowledge, our patient represents the first male patient” with a benign epithelial-cell adrenal gland tumor “in the pediatric population, with clinical presentation of precocious [early] puberty and Cushing’s syndrome,” the researchers wrote.

“As these tumors are exceptionally rare, reporting of additional cases and investigation of clinicopathological [disease] data are needed for better characterization of these tumors,” they wrote.

From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2018/02/16/cushings-syndrome-early-puberty-5-year-old-boy-case-study/

7 health conditions that are responsible for making you fat

Cushing’s syndrome: Cushing’s syndrome or hypercortisolism is a condition caused when the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol. This leads to a buildup of fat in the face, upper back and abdomen. Cushing’s syndrome can also be a side-effect of certain medications.

Read the other 6 at 7 health conditions that are responsible for making you fat | Read Health Articles & Blogs at TheHealthSite.com.

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