Treating Vascular Lesions with Laser Cosmetic Surgery
Vascular legions come in a variety of formations, though all involve blood vessels in one way or another. Some are broken blood vessels, while others are conditions are superficial such as strawberry hemangiomas, cherry angiomas, and port-wine stains. Some may be a bit more involved, such as small and large vessel growths like capillary or cavernous hemangiomas or arterio-venous malformations.
Deciding if Your Vascular Lesion Needs Treatment
The majority of vascular lesions are benign. Therefore, treatment is considered to be purely cosmetic. This is particularly true with cherry angiomas and broken blood vessels. Vascular lesions that are periodically traumatized, particularly those that may be rubbed by the natural folds of the skin or by clothing because of their location, may need to be treated.
Other vascular lesions, such as port-wine stains, should also be treated because they can get worse with age. Port-wine stains in particular can get thicker and develop vascular blebs, which are grape-like collections of blood vessels, which can lead to bleeding.
Other vascular lesions, such as capillary hemangiomas, commonly called strawberries, usually go away on their own over time. Therefore, it is generally not recommended to treat these vascular lesions unless they are in a problematic area such as the nose or the eyelid, of if they are continually irritated by movement or clothing.
Lasers have been used for years to treat vascular lesions, so there are no safety concerns associated with the procedures. Even infants can safely undergo laser cosmetic treatment. There is, however, a slight chance of experiencing scarring and hypopigmentation from laser treatment if you have darker skin. Hypopigmentation is characterized by the surrounding skin becoming lighter than the rest of the skin. This is because the laser light becomes absorbed by the melanin in the healthy skin surrounding the vascular lesion. This occurs rarely, however, and generally goes away on its own over time.
Treating Vascular Lesions
Treatment for vascular lesions may include injecting medications, taking oral medication, or even radiologic techniques. Laser treatment is often the best way to treat vascular lesions, though deeper ones sometimes associated with hemangiomas and arterio-venous malformations are often difficult to treat with laser surgery.
Generally, the lasers used to treat vascular lesions are yellow-light, or pulsed-dye systems. Green-light, which may be KTP, Versapulse, or 532, are also used. The latest models of pulsed-dye lasers produce variable wavelengths, as well as variable spot sizes and pulse widths. As a result, they are capable of treating deeper vascular lesions as well as those that tend to be more difficult to remove, such as port-wine stains. It is important to note that some port-wine stains cannot be removed, even with multiple treatments.
Most people who undergo these types of laser treatments say it feels similar to a rubber band snap. Therefore, most adults and older children are capable of withstanding the laser treatment without any form of anesthesia. Younger children and adults with a lower tolerance for pain, however, may need a topical anesthesia or even a general anesthesia depending on the location and severity of the vascular lesion.
No matter what type of vascular lesion you have or how it is treated, y our skin will become slightly discolored after treatment. Your skin might also develop what is called a crust or it may blister. Pulsed-dye lasers also commonly leave behind purplish colored bruises. All of these side effects generally go away on their own with a week after the procedure is complete.
Although laser treatment is not always a necessity when it comes to vascular lesions, it can provide a boost to your self-esteem as you have unattractive growths or discoloration removed from your skin. For parents of children with vascular lesions, it is important to take social ramifications under consideration when deciding whether or not to have your child undergo laser treatment to remove these marks from the skin.