Port wine stains – introduction and treatment

Port wine stains Port-wine stains are birthmarks that literally look as maroon wine was spilled on the skin. They often look pink at birth and tend to become darker, purple or dark red, as children grow. Around 3 out of every 1,000 children are born with port wine stains. These stains can be anywhere on the body, but most commonly are found on scalp, face, neck, arms, or legs. They grow in proportions of the child, and may thicken with age.

As with any birthmark, these stains, especially on the face, can make kids insecure about how they look. It is necessary to support them properly. It is necessary to tell them that they are not different from other kids in any way. People may stare or ask questions about the stains; tell your kids to reply them normally, saying “this is just a birthmark, nothing else.”

These stains don’t go away by themselves, but there are some treatments available now. The lasers are very good at treating Port-wine stains. Different lasers with different wavelengths are used to treat these stains.   

Plastic surgeons or dermatologist administers several sessions with the chosen laser to treat the stains. The treatment is more effective when started in infancy, when the blood vessels are smaller and the stains are easier to treat. The laser can also treat grownups or even elderly people, but it is usually more difficult. The laser therapy is not painful, and local anesthesia is applied to make this procedure more comfortable.

In the past, people tried other treatments like freezing, tattooing, and radiation. But the lasers proved to be the most effective method to treat these stains. If the stains have become bumpy, thick, or raised, doctors may need to use surgery in addition to lasers to treat them.

The results vary from person to person. In kids, laser therapy usually produces significant results making the marks less visible. In elderly however, the results are less pronounced.

Early treatment is the key, so if you or your kids are born with port-wine stains, visit your dermatologist or plastic surgeon as soon as possible.



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