A Port Wine Stain is also called a Nevus Flammeus and is a type of birthmark composed of capillaries that is apparent at birth. Port Wine Stains start out as light pink to red patches, but they gradually darken and thicken. They are typically located on the face, but they can be found anywhere on the body. Port Wine Stain are different from Salmon Patches because they do not go away over time.
If you suspect your child has a Port Wine Stain, it is important to have him or her evaluated by a dermatologist because these birthmarks can occasionally be associated with Sturge-Weber, Klippel Trenaunay or other syndromes and that can affect other parts of the body.
Most of the time however, a Port Wine Stain occurs as an isolated birthmark on the skin with no associated findings, and its significance is limited to its cosmetic impact on the developing child.
In the past, the only treatments for these birthmarks were cosmetic camouflaging techniques. Today, laser therapy has transformed the way we treat Port Wine Stains. The pulsed-dye laser (wavelengths of 585-595nm) is the most widely used and effective laser for treating these birthmarks. The earlier the treatments begin the easier and quicker the lesion fades.
Several treatment sessions, four to eight weeks apart, are usually required to achieve cosmetically significant lightening. Depending on the size and location of the lesion and the age of the patient, treatments can be done in a dermatologist’s office (with topical anesthesia) or in an outpatient surgical center (with general anesthesia).
Your child’s dermatologist can help you determine which treatment is best.