Port Wine Stain Information

Venual Malformations (Port Wine Stains) are always present at birth and can range from pale pink to dark purple in color. In the past these lesions were erroneously called "capillary hemangiomas." Port Wine Stains occur in .3% of births and occur equally among males and females.

The cause has been recently associated with a deficiency or absence in the nerve supply to the blood vessels of the affected area. These nerves control the diameter of the blood vessels. If the nerves are absentor defective, the vessels will continue to dilate and blood will pool or collect in the affected area. The result will be a visible birth mark. This is important to know because laser therapy which is used to remove a port wine stain will only be temporary. Since the deficiency is in the nervous system, in time the blood will repool in the affected area and the birthmark will once again appear.

Once a Port Wine Stain is lasered, it is important at the first sign of reoccurence to have one or two treatments to keep it faded. The individual will have to have maintenance laser treatments for life. Because Port Wine Stains can be progressive, treatment should be done early to prevent cobbling of the skin and thickening and darkening of the stain. These lesions vary from low-grade to high-grade, pale to dark. Low-grade progress at a slower rate than high-grade.