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Port Wine Stain

Alternate Names

  • nevus flammeus

Definition

A port wine stain is a type of birthmark. It is an irregularly shaped, reddish, flat area of blood vessels on the surface of the skin.

What is going on in the body?

The cause of port wine stains is unknown. They are composed of enlarged capillaries in the skin. About 3 of every 1000 babies born has one or more of them..At first, port wine stains are flat. Over time, lumps and bumps can occur on the surface of the birthmark.

Risks

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

A port wine stain on the face can be a part of Sturge-Weber syndrome. This syndrome also involves problems with blood vessels in the eyes and brain. However, a port wine stain does not usually mean that Sturge-Weber syndrome is present.

Prevention

What can be done to prevent the condition?

There are no ways to prevent port wine stains.

Diagnosed

How is the condition diagnosed?

Port wine stains are diagnosed by examination. A healthcare provider may look for signs of a broader disease that may be related to the port wine stain.

Long Term Effects

What are the long-term effects of the condition?

If they are left alone, port wine stains will become thickened over time.

Other Risks

What are the risks to others?

Port wine stains are not contagious.

Treatments

What are the treatments for the condition?

Laser surgery can be done to close off blood vessels supplying the port wine stain. This kind of treatment should be used when the port wine stain is still flat, before it becomes thicker.

Side Effects

What are the side effects of the treatments?

Bruising and discoloration can occur right after laser treatment. Repeated treatments are usually needed.

After Treatment

What happens after treatment for the condition?

If treated early, port wine stains improve dramatically.

Monitor

How is the condition monitored?

Monitoring is based on appearance alone, unless the port wine stain is part of some other underlying condition. Larger ones are usually referred to a dermatologist.

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