DETROIT – Port wine stain, a vascular birthmark characterized by reddish to purplish discoloration of the skin, is now easy to wipe off through laser therapy.
Three of every 1,000 children born have a port wine stain, which is made up of numerous dilated vessels in a localized part of the skin, and for most the skin discoloration has caused discomfort, embarrassment, and even pain.
One such individual is
After dealing with blood vessel clusters and papules, swelling and infections, Dillon’s family doctor sent her to see Dr. Jeffrey Orringer, director of the Cosmetic Dermatology and Laser Center at the University of Michigan Health System.
Orringer used lasers that, over eight treatments, removed
“There are lots of theories about why port wine stains develop, but the truth is that no one really knows why a child is born with a port wine stain,” Orringer said.
Even though he cannot explain why Dillon or anyone else gets the vascular birthmark, he has good odds of making them better with the laser therapy: 75 percent to 80 percent of patients have their port wine stain lightened by at least 50 percent, and the mark disappears completely in 15 percent to 20 percent of patients.
“When this type of laser therapy is performed by an experienced physician, risks are really very low,” Orringer explained.
The combination of state-of-the-art lasers with experienced anaesthesia doctors makes the treatments essentially pain-free for children undergoing the procedure, he added.
Adults generally tolerate the treatments in the clinic setting without the need for anesthesia, and treatments typically take just a few minutes.
The patient reclines in a chair, wearing goggles to protect the eyes, while the doctor uses the laser in small circles to reach the entire surface of the port wine stain.
Bruising occurs for up to two days after each treatment, and
But when the bruising wears off, the strawberry-coloured port wine stain is not there either.
“It was just amazing,”
She no longer requires the antibiotics or prednisone that she needed for infections and swelling from the birthmark.
Orringer recommends that those with port wine stains seek treatment early in life as they normally worsen over time; however, he has also treated older patients with great results.