Removing Port-Wine Stains with Laser Cosmetic Surgery

Port-wine stains are reddish birthmarks that appear in about .3% of children. These birthmarks are caused by an over-abundance of blood vessels in the skin. The coloring of port-wine stains can range from pale pink to dark purple and are most commonly located on the neck, the face, the chest or the shoulders, though they can be located anywhere on the body. Port-wine stains vary in size and may become darker and larger as the person grows older. Port-wine stains never go away on their own.

Removing Port-Wine Stains with Laser Cosmetic Surgery

Laser cosmetic surgery can bring relief to those feeling self-conscious because of their port-wine stains. Today, a pulsed dye laser, such as the Vasculight YAG laser, is commonly used to treat these birthmarks. The pulsed dye laser can penetrate the skin very deeply, which makes it possible for it to target the red pigment and blood vessels causing the appearance of the port-wine stains.

When the pulsed dye laser penetrates the skin, it is able to vaporize the tissue causing the discolored appearance without causing damage to the surrounding skin. It can take several treatments to achieve the desired results. In addition, it may be necessary to have treatments referred to as "maintenance treatments" because port-wine stains have the tendency to reappear on their own over time.

The Pulsed Dye Laser

The pulsed dye laser is a specialized laser that has a high electric lamp. It is capable of creating high energy, short flashes of light. The light receives coloring as it passes through a dye, which can be of a variety of colors. The color selected depends on the type and pigmentation of the skin that is to be treated.

Deciding if Port-Wine Stain Laser Surgery is Right for You

If you are bothered by the site of your port-wine stain, then laser surgery is something that you might want to seriously consider. You do, however, need to be evaluated by a professional first to determine that your birthmark is truly a port-wine stain and not the result of another rare condition needing alternative treatment. In addition, it is important for you to be realistic about your expectations from the surgery.

Port-wine stain laser surgery usually takes multiple sessions to get the redness to disappear. The larger and darker the coloration, the more difficult it will be to remove. Be sure to ask you doctor to give you a realistic idea of how well you port-wine stain can be removed. In addition, you may need to return periodically to your doctor to have "maintenance" treatments in order to keep the discoloration from reappearing. Since port-wine stain laser removal is considered a cosmetic procedure, most insurance companies will not cover the cost. Therefore, you need to be prepared to pay for all necessary treatments yourself.

For most adults, the port-wine stain laser surgery can be completed with local anesthesia on an outpatient basis. For children or individuals with larger stains, however, the treatment may require general anesthesia.