A port wine stain or PWS is one of the more common birthmarks related to blood vessel growth. Present at birth, an early PWS is usually flat and pink in appearance with the color possibly deepening to a dark red or purplish color as the child gets older. PWS most common occur on the face but may appear anywhere on the body. PWS can sometimes be associated with other conditions such as Sturge Weber syndrome and Klippel Trenaunay syndrome Beckwith-Weidemann syndrome, Cobb syndrome or Proteus syndrome. Treatment options for PWS include surgical removal, freezing, radiation and pulsed dye laser therapy.
Sturge - Weber Syndrome (SWS)
This is a rare congenital disorder associated with a Port-Wine Stain birthmark on the face, glaucoma, seizures, intellectual disabilities, and arteriovenous malformations of the brain. The brain is usually affected on the same side of the head as the birthmark. The syndrome may be diagnosed at birth by seizures accompanied by a large Port-Wine Stain birthmark (light pink to deep purple) on the forehead and upper eyelid of one side of the face, due to an overabundance of capillaries. Some children will also have intellectual disabilities, muscle weakness, and about 50% will have glaucoma. Treatment for the Sturge-Weber is symptomatic, with laser treatment used to lighten or remove the birthmark, anticonvulsants to control seizures, physical therapy to strengthen muscles, and yearly ophthalmology monitoring for glaucoma. Prognosis is worse for children who develop neurological symptoms before age 2.
Klippel-Trenaunay and Parkes-Weber Syndrome
This is a rare congenital medical condition of abnormal blood and lymph vessel formation, cutaneous capillary malformation, and skeletal or soft tissue hypertrophy. Diagnosis is made clinically based on one or more distinct symptoms. These associated symptoms include the following: 1) port-wine stains with sharp borders; 2) varicose veins; 3) hypertrophy of bone and soft tissues with local limb enlargement or shrinking; 4) an improperly developed lymph system that may lead to local limb swelling. Pain and difficulty walking may occur and, in more severe cases, the limb hypertrophy may be so severe as to prompt amputation. Though cases vary, symptoms affect approximately ¼ of the body. Treatment for this condition is complex and should be approached on an individual, case-by-case manner. Treatment is usually focused on increasing quality of life and decreasing physical deformities. Surgical debulking may be indicated for severe cases. Non-surgical options are also available and include sclerotherapy to potentially close large vascular malformations and compression garments to alleviate pain and inflammation.
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Salmon patches, often called stork bites or angel kisses, are common birthmarks seen in almost one-third of infants. Salmon patches are often present at birth but can appear in the first months of life in some cases. Salmon patches are flat and pink patches usually seen on the forehead, eyelids, nose, upper lip, or back of the neck. Since they are a collection of blood vessels, salmon patches may become darker when the child cries or when room temperature changes dramatically. Most salmon patches on the face go away within 18 months while some on the back of the neck may not go away. If a salmon patch lasts longer than three years and you wish it to be removed, it may be treated with pulsed dye laser therapy.
Telangiectasia are small, unsightly red, purple or blue blood vessels found along the surface on the face, upper chest, neck and rarely on other parts of the body. Similar veins are found on the legs called spider veins. These blood vessels are abnormal, and are not necessary for any essential body function. Telangiectasia can be treated by an intense light pulsed light (IPL) device or pulsed dye laser (PDL) which provides one of the best treatments for telangiectasia. Because telangiectasia are red, pink or purple, they will absorb more of the laser light than the surrounding normal skin. When the laser light is absorbed, the vessels will be affected without damaging the normal skin.