Capillary Malformations

Also known as: port-wine stain

What are capillary malformations?

A capillary malformation is a flat, sharply defined small or large pink, red or purple birthmark (also called a port-wine stain), consisting of small blood vessels that may be found anywhere on the body, but most frequently on the head/neck area. They may grow in size and thicken as the child grows.


What causes capillary malformations?

It appears, that a genetic mutation (change) is responsible for the abnormal capillary development. They are not related to any environmental exposure or medication taken during pregnancy.


What are the sign/symptoms of capillary malformations?

Most capillary malformations are identified by their appearance. Depending on their position (forehead/eyelids or spine) some capillary malformations may be associated with abnormalities of the eye, brain or spine.


What are capillary malformation care options?

Many capillary malformations require no treatment, however they will not disappear on their own. Laser therapy or surgical removal are the usual treatments for capillary malformations. Recurrences may occur.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 7/7/2017 9:27:34 AM

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Harper's Success Story
08/31/2017 — When Harper was diagnosed with Beckwith Wiedemann Syndrome shortly after birth, her family knew they wanted the best team possible for her tongue reduction surgery. Harper now leads a limitless life thanks to Dr. Chad Perlyn, an expert in treating macroglossia, and the Craniofacial Center at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital.