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Vascular Malformations

Vascular Malformations

What is the difference between a Hemangioma and a Vascular Birthmark?

Most hemangiomas are not usually present at birth or are very faint red marks. Shortly after birth, they begin to form small red patches. They tend to grow rapidly for the following 4 – 6 months.

After this period of growth, hemangiomas enter a resting phase. They usually remain the same size for several months or years. Sometimes they shrink spontaneously & go away without treatment.  

Vascular malformations are present at birth and enlarge proportionately with the growth of the child. They do not involute spontaneously and may become more apparent as the child grows.

Both can affect both boys and girls & appear most frequently on the face & neck. Colors differ from pale pink, red or even violaceous. The deeper the lesion, the darker it appears in color.

What are the complications associated with a Hemangioma of the skin?

Complications from hemangiomas are extremely rare. However, they can occur if a hemangioma grows very quickly or is in a dangerous location.

Potential complications include:

  • Ulceration (bleeding).
  • Vision changes (if the hemangioma is on the eye).
  • Difficulty breathing (if the hemangioma is large and on the throat or nose).
  • Secondary infection.

What is the treatment for a skin Hemangioma / Vascular Birthmark?

Treatment is required if the lesion is interfering with vision or breathing. Also, if it is very large, bleeding or ulcerated.

Lasers, Corticosteroids such as prednisone (given topically, orally, or injected into the lesion) can treat these lesions. In addition to surgery can remove a large lesion that is causing problems.

A combination of these treatment modalities is usually needed to reach the best outcome. Some investigations may be required to visualize structures beneath the skin & to see the depth of the hemangioma.