A port-wine stain is a type of birthmark that gets its name from its resemblance to a maroon-colored wine that looks like it has been spilled or splashed on a person’s skin. They are most often pinkish at birth, but they tend to darken to purple or even brown with age.
Port-wine stains can be found anywhere on the body, but they are most often on the face and neck. They occur in about 1 of 1,000 people and are caused by a dilation of veins just under the skin’s surface. There is useful information about port wine stains, their causes, and treatment at laserskinsurgery.com/treatment/port-wine-stain.
Do Port Wine Stains Cause Symptoms?
Port-wine stains generally cause no symptoms, besides their appearance. As a result, those with port wine stains often suffer from low self-esteem and lack of confidence.
Other features of port wine stains include:
- Size. Port-wine stains can measure from a few millimeters up to several centimeters.
- Bleeding. A port-wine stain can be prone to bleeding if it is injured or scratched.
- Texture. Port-wine stains usually start out flat and smooth. Over time, however, they can become thicker and bumpy, appearing almost like cobblestone.
- Location. Although port wine stains cause no physical symptoms, their location-;mostly on the face and neck-;can pose serious self-consciousness in those who have them.
It should be noted that in rare instances, mainly when a port-wine stain is located near the eyes, it is thought that it might contribute to the onset of glaucoma, but this has not been proven. And even if glaucoma does occur, it is highly treatable with prescription eye drops or surgery.
Can Port Wine Stains Be Treated?
In an overwhelming number of cases, port wine stains need no treatment. They are what they are, and people live with them. There are even celebrities who are content with their port stain marks. These include singer Tina Turner, singer/songwriter/guitarist Billy Corgan, and political leader Mikhail Gorbachev. In some cases, however, especially when self-esteem and confidence suffer, treatment can offer positive results.
The most effective treatment of port wine stains is with lasers. This works by using heat that damages the abnormal blood vessels in the mark. This heat causes blood vessels to close and disintegrate after a short period of healing. In most cases, this type of treatment makes stains shrink, fade, and even disappear entirely.
Lasers: The Best Option
Most people need several treatments for lasers to work, although the exact number of visits depends on several factors, such as skin color, size, and mark location. It is important to remember that in some cases, laser treatments for port stain marks do not result in the complete removal of the discoloration. Sometimes the only results will be lightening, making them less noticeable.
Laser treatments do cause temporary sensitivity in the skin. For this reason, those who undergo laser treatments should wear sunscreen and cover-up to protect their skin after their treatments.
Perhaps the best part of laser treatments for port-wine stains is that they are painless, require nearly no downtime, and offer some of the best long-term results of anything else available. Nearly all patients report being highly satisfied with the results of laser treatment to relieve their port-wine stains.