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.
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