Port Wine Birthmarks


An acute source of psychological stress, these lesions are present at birth and usually occur on the face or neck. If untreated, port wine birthmarks can deepen in color and increase in size and depth with age. They can become raised, increasing their susceptibility to abrasion, ulceration, chronic infections and circulatory problems. Therefore, port wine birthmarks are best treated as early as possible.


There are two phases to laser treatment. The first phase determines the proper laser energy to clear the lesion. This involves a test consisting of several laser pulses with differing energy density. At your next appointment, your physician will evaluate the best results to determine the proper energy setting for your skin type. The first of several treatment sessions will then begin. 


Use of the pulsed-dye laser causes a discoloration and a bruise of the skin known as a pupura which lasts for about ten days. However, it is agreed throughout the medical community that when the pupura has faded, the pulsed-dye laser offers the most effective treatment available for port wine stains.


It is important to note that lasers do not always eliminate port wine birthmarks completely. In about 25% of patients, laser therapy will completely clear the lesion, while 75% will result in a dramatic improvement. For reasons that are not well understood, a small number of patients will not respond to laser treatment.