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woman face with real port wine stain or birthmark

Birthmarks are a common occurrence in newborns and children. They can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, environmental factors and abnormal blood vessel growth. One particular type of birthmark that is often misunderstood is the Port Wine Stain.

A common question posed to our specialists at the Vascular Birthmark Center is, “Does my child have a port wine stain birthmark or is this just a bruise?” Our experts review this concern and talk about the most effective port wine stain treatment options.

What is a Port Wine Stain Birthmark?

A port wine stain is a type of vascular birthmark. It is caused by abnormal blood vessel growth in the skin. The name “port wine stain” comes from the dark red or purple color of the birthmark, which resembles the color of port wine. These birthmarks can appear anywhere on the body but are most commonly found on the face, neck, arms and legs.

Port wine stain birthmarks are usually present at birth and can vary in size and shape. They may be flat or raised and can darken over time. In some cases, they may also thicken and become bumpy. Unlike bruises, port wine stain birthmarks do not fade or disappear on their own. They are usually a lifelong condition.

In fact, they may be all but unnoticeable at birth but darken with age, leading to the question about birthmarks or bruises.

A bruise is an injury that occurs when small blood vessels under the skin are damaged or broken. This causes blood to leak into the surrounding tissues, resulting in a discoloration of the skin. Bruises are usually caused by trauma, such as a bump, fall or injury. They can occur anywhere on the body and are usually painful to the touch.

Unlike port wine stain birthmarks, bruises are temporary and will usually fade within a few days to a few weeks. They may change color as they heal, starting out as red or purple and eventually turning yellow or green before disappearing completely.

Treatment Options for Port Wine Stain Birthmarks

Port wine stain birthmarks can be treated using a variety of methods, including laser therapy, surgery, and medication. Laser therapy is the most common and effective treatment. The Vascular Birthmark Center uses a special laser to target the blood vessels in the birthmark. This causes the vessels to collapse and the birthmark to fade over time. Multiple treatments may be necessary to achieve the desired results.

Medications, such as topical or oral beta-blockers, may also be used to treat port wine stain birthmarks. These medications work by reducing blood flow to the affected area and can help to prevent the birthmark from getting thicker or darker.

New York Vascular Malformation Care

While port wine stain birthmarks and bruises may appear similar at first glance, they are actually very different conditions. Port wine stain birthmarks are a type of vascular birthmark caused by abnormal blood vessel growth in the skin. They are usually present at birth and are a lifelong condition. Bruises are caused by trauma to the skin and will usually heal on their own within a few days to a few weeks.

If you or your child has a port wine stain birthmark, it is important to see our specialists about treatment options. While the birthmark may not be harmful, it can cause cosmetic or functional problems that may require medical intervention. Contact the Vascular Birthmark Center in New York for more information or to schedule a consultation with one of our specialists.

Posted on behalf of The Vascular Birthmark Center: Gregory M. Levitin, MD

200 W. 57th St., Suite 1410
New York, NY 10019

Phone: (212) 316-0616

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Our Patient Reviews
The Vascular Birthmark Center: Gregory M. Levitin, MD

4.8 / 5.0

Based on 27 reviews

Abril M.

Dr. Levitin is very knowledgeable, compassionate and professional. Five years ago, I needed to find information about a birth mark that my newborn daughter started to grow a couple days after birth. I was afraid, I did not feel like I got any clear information about it through my insurance; also, they did not offer any course of treatment for it. I started to look for information, the birthmark was growing each day, information was scarce and I just got more scared. Finally, I found a video in Youtube from a grandmother who was very grateful after finding treatment for her grand daughter through The Birthmark Foundation. It was a huge blessing to me and my family. I found Dr. Levitin, I contacted him thinking he probably would not even answer. I was wrong, he kindly answered promptly, got in touch with me and soon he had a plan : ) I went to see him at the Birthmark Center in Los Angeles. He explained everything in a way that it was so clear to understand, no question I made was insignificant and his answers were each very informative. I really never have had an experience with a doctor who explains and speaks in such a way. I left his office knowing that my daughter was in the best hands and the best care. I first thank God for the Birthmark Foundation, a great organization with the highest quality of doctors. Also, a very special thanks to Dr. Levitin for all his help and kindness, for listening to my concerns and answering each and every question. And last, but no least, to the Birthmark Foundation Center in Los Angeles : ) I hope many children can find help/care in this place as I found it for my daughter. Thank you forever.

Ryan E.

I will be telling tales of the good doctors compassion till time comes to an end. Because of Dr Levitin, I have more confidence in my every day life. He was fast, knowledgeable, precise and all with a disarming sense of humor. Two thumbs up!

Carla M.

I wanted to show you how much better Hailey's tongue looks and let you know her speech has already improved so much!!! Her speech teacher is thrilled!!!! Thank you so much for everything you did for her. You are an excellent surgeon with a great bedside manner- we are forever grateful to you!!! We are so appreciative!

Danielle L.

we are forever grateful for Dr. Levitin. My daughter Lena had surgery to remove her hemangioma that was located on her forehead at just 6 month old. she healed beautifully and we couldn't be happier with how minimal her scar is, even almost 4.5 years later. Dr. Levitin is caring, compassionate, and such a great doctor/surgeon overall. He had our daughter's best interest and I knew she was in good hands. I highly recommend him any chance I get!


My name is Chris and I was recently treated for an AVM on my forehead by Dr. Gregory Levitin of New York (New York Eye and Ear Infirmary). Thankfully, I live within a few hours of NYC. In brief, I would like to say that Dr. Levitin is very capable doctor with a lot of experience with AVMs. He responds quickly to e-mail, texts, and phone calls. He accepts insurance. He takes a "team approach" and will be your "QB" and involve other specialists as necessary. In my particular case they were Dr. Raj Shrivastava (Mt Sinai) and Dr. Raphael A. Ortiz (Lenox Hill) in NY. I recommend contacting Dr Levitin for a consultation if you suspect you have an AVM. All 3 Drs are just good people. When I spoke to them, they treated me like like an equal. I felt like they were advising me as a close friend or family member. Like many that suffer with AVMs I was at first mis-diagnosed. What was thought to be a just a simple cyst turned out to be an AVM. Surgery to remove the cyst made the AVM about 5x bigger. My treatment entailed a few MRIs and CAT scans to determine what was going on and the treatment plan. This was followed by consultation with the 3 Drs mentioned above and finally a 2-day procedure. On day 1 Dr Ortiz embolized the AVM. On day 2 Dr Levitin and Dr Shrivastava removed the AVM from my skull and put some metal mesh there to fill the "hole". It has been 6-months since the surgery and so far I have not had any recurrence. In honor of Vascular Birthmark Awareness Day and to thank these Drs for all they have done for me, I just want to give everyone a solid reference. Finding the right doctor for this type of stuff makes all the difference.

Valle S.

I just discovered this page i have also a birthmark I always experiences bully because of this. I don't know what kind of birthmark is this if it is harmful ? I hope Dr. Levitin notice this message in this way I think he can help me :) :) #DrLevitin

Alicia M.

This year marks the 10th that I contacted VBF for help. Since then I have been under the care of Dr. G Levitin and Dr. R. Ortiz, they are my guardian healing angels! Thanks VBF for not only helping me but also for letting me be a volunteer in the foundation whenever I am needed. A Big Hug to all from MIAMI... Alicia

Alexander G.

Totally positive experience. Dr. Levitin is a great professional. He has diagnosed and treated my nose breathing problem, significantly improving my quality of life. Office staff is very professional. Appointments always kept on time. Strongly recommend.