Port Wine Stains and Hemangiomas

Port Wine Stains

Port Wine Stains are vascular malformations can be noticeable and embarrassing. At birth they appear as pink areas of smooth skin.  If left untreated, as time goes by port wine stains become deeper pink to red.  Eventually they can become think, bumpy and purple.  Port Wine Stains can also vary greatly in size.  In general, the sooner they are treated, the better the response.

Port Wine Stains


Hemangiomas are red vascular growths that appear shortly after birth. They can increase in size for up to two years after they appear. As the treatment can vary these should be differentiated form vascular malformations, which can be noticeable at birth and increase in size over time even into adulthood. Many hemangiomas and vascular malformations can be treated with lasers designed for vascular lesions. The results of laser treatments can vary. For growing hemangiomas laser treatments often further growth, lighten it or it will disappear. It is important to treat these lesions early, when the patient is younger, as smaller, thinner lesions are more likely to respond to laser treatment. Vascular malformations can thicken and darken over time. They have a better response if treated earlier when they are thinner and redder.

Hemangiomas that do not respond to laser treatments or cannot be treated with a laser can now be treated with medications known as beta blockers. These include propranolol (Inderal™). Some hemangiomas will respond to topical application of these to the involved skin surface. Others will require oral administration.

If used as oral medication these can affect the heart. Therefore it is important that the child’s heart is carefully monitored when placed on this type of medication.


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