Port Wine Stains


What is a Port Wine Stain?

Port wine stains are discolorations of the skin caused by a capillary malformation or vascular anomaly. They are named due to the unique color they present that is similar to red wine. A port-wine stain is almost always a birthmark, and in rare cases it can develop in early childhood. Either way, port-wine stains ordinarily persist throughout life. The area(s) of skin affected grows in proportion to general growth.


Where do they appear?

Port Wine Stains occur most often on the face but can appear anywhere on the body, particularly on the neck and upper trunk. Early stains are usually flat and pink in appearance. As the person matures, the color may deepen to a dark red or purplish color. In adulthood, thickening of the lesion or the development of small lumps may occur.


How effective is laser treatment?

Studies show an improvement in the appearance of port-wine stains ranging from 75 percent to 100 percent after a series of laser treatment sessions. Recent advances in technology and treatment protocols allow for increased lightening and clearing of port-wine stains. One study revealed close to 90 percent clearance when treatment began in infancy.

When should treatment begin?

In our experience, early intervention can make a significant difference. We prefer to initiate treatment during early infancy—at intervals of four to six weeks (the same parameter for adults). This window of opportunity during infancy provides a better chance in completely clearing vascular birthmarks.

What are the medical reasons for treating port-wine stains with laser technology?

Port-wine stains are progressive vascular malformations of the skin, meaning the deformity will grow larger and more noticeable over time. Treating port-wine stain birthmarks with laser technology such as our GentleMax Pro helps to make the port-wine stain smaller in size and in some cases, completely disappear. In children, port-wine stains are reddish discolorations of the skin. However, as the patients get older, the lesions tend to darken progressively to purple. By adulthood, they often become raised because of the development of vascular papules, or nodules, that resemble cobblestones. These changes in color and contour are caused by the progressive dilation of the abnormal blood vessels.


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(unrelated to port-wine stains)