Treat Port-Wine Birthmarks Early to Avoid Progression
The board-certified physicians at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York are world-renowned for their expertise in the treatment of port-wine birthmarks—previously known as port-wine stains—and other vascular malformations. Although we recommend beginning treatment early in infancy, we can also provide comprehensive laser treatments for older children and adults. As a world innovator, our Director Dr. Roy G. Geronemus safely treats children and even newborns and with our center’s 100+ lasers. He customizes port-wine birthmark treatments regardless of the patient’s age or the progression of a port-wine birthmark condition.
While often located in areas that can easily be covered up with clothing, some of these red or wine-colored birthmarks can also develop on the face and darken and/or thicken over time. Large birthmarks can overpower a person’s face, leading to a loss of self-esteem in some cases. These birthmarks can also lead to complications such as hypertrophy and cobblestoning of the skin later on. Fortunately, laser treatments in Manhattan and Southampton are available to eliminate port-wine birthmarks in many cases.
Progression Can Occur When Port-Wine Birthmarks are Left Untreated
Over time, port-wine birthmarks (especially those located on the face), can darken, thicken, and develop raised bumps and ridges. When left untreated, port-wine birthmarks can also result in specific long-term conditions that may need further treatment. Examples include:
- Soft tissue hypertrophy – develops when the tissue beneath a port-wine birthmark spreads or enlarges. This occurs most commonly around the lips.
- Cobblestoning – skin thickening that develops as a result of malfunctioning capillaries.
- Bleeding – the skin of a port-wine birthmark may be prone to bleeding when injured or scratched.
- Vascular blebs – grape-like growths of small blood vessels that can develop from port-wine birthmarks. They may bleed and may need to be removed.
Why Early Treatment is Best
According to pubmed.gov, early treatment of port-wine birthmarks during infancy allows for optimal outcomes. Benefits include greater response of the patient to the laser treatment and a lower risk of recurrence. There are several factors that contribute to these positive results:
- Skin thickness increases with age. The younger the patient, the better the penetration of the laser energy to the hemoglobin in the port-wine birthmark’s capillaries.
- Young infants will have relatively less melanin in the skin, which may be a competing chromophore (the molecule that is responsible for color) for the absorption of laser energy.
- Any changes that occur in port-wine birthmarks (e.g., darkening, thickening, increase in size) can make the ability to achieve clearance more difficult.
Our physicians have more than thirty years of experience in the treatment of port-wine birthmarks in infants, children, and adults. We see patients across the country and around the world who seek our experience and expertise to treat even more challenging markings. We have participated in numerous studies and have published multiple articles on this subject to help other practitioners treat their patients effectively.
The Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York has a full research center where Dr. Geronemus has performed numerous published studies about port-wine birthmarks. He believes that early intervention through quick, in-office treatments offers a superior outcome. Dr. Geronemus has also participated in studies that show general anesthesia is not needed when treating port-wine birthmarks on infants, helping ensure safe outcomes. He is a board member of the Vascular Birthmark Association and works with families and other doctors to address vascular birthmarks and tumors.
Treatment For Port-Wine Birthmarks
We provide excellent medical and cosmetic treatments for a wide variety of skin conditions and aesthetic concerns. In particular, we offer a dedicated portion of our practice to treating patients of all ages with port-wine birthmarks. Laser treatment for infants can be safe and effective, especially when performed by a specialist such as Dr. Geronemus. Our Manhattan, New York office is also designed with families and young children in mind, making all of our patients feel comfortable and welcome.
Due to the wavelength at which a laser operates, a pulsed dye laser, which is the most commonly used laser for port-wine birthmark treatment, is able to effectively treat the affected area without harming the surrounding skin. In this video, Dr. Geronemus demonstrates the safety and efficacy of the laser treatment using balloons as a visual aid, showing how he is able to pop the red balloon with the laser without affecting the white outer balloon. Learn more about how pulsed dye lasers are used to treat port-wine stains by visiting this ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.
Our physicians have developed many, if not most, of the laser technology available today for the treatment of birthmarks, and we continually offer the most advanced treatments for our patients in this constantly evolving field. At the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York, we utilize a variety of different lasers for the treatment of port-wine birthmarks including the V-Beam Prima, V-Beam Perfecta, GentleLase, Alexandrite, Nd:Yag, and Excel V lasers. We are also currently investigating new technologies for the treatment of port-wine birthmarks.
Schedule an Appointment Today
The Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York offers the most effective techniques and treatments available today for port-wine birthmarks. We would be happy to schedule a consultation to discuss your concerns and to create a customized treatment plan to produce the best results for you. To learn more, contact our Manhattan, New York office.
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