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Portwine Stains

These are birthmarks that typically appear as pink, red, or purple discolourations on the skin of the face, body or limbs. Portwine stains can be small or large, flat or hypertrophic (bumpy). They can be challenging to treat, and usually require several treatments. Given that they are vascular lesions, it is important that they are treated with the correct laser. One of the most appropriate lasers to treat portwine stains is the VBeam pulsed dye laser. This laser emits laser pulses at a wavelength of 595nm which is ideal for targeting the pigmentation in blood vessels. This is important to selectively destroy unwanted blood vessels whilst minimising collateral damage to surrounding skin and tissues. We always do a few skin tests with the laser first to ensure the energy is correct for your skin. Purpura, or purplish circular discolouration, is normal after laser for portwine stains and fades over time. Treatments are separated by approximately 4-8 weeks.

Treatments for portwine stains

Will the laser completely remove the portwine stain?

These birthmarks can be challenging to treat. You should expect significant improvement in the portwine stain (PWS) after a course of treatments with VBeam. However, complete clearing of the PWS might not be possible. Darker portwine stains tend to clear more easily. Lighter, more faded lesions can be harder for the laser to target and clear.

What is the downtime after treatment of PWS?

You should expect significant purpura (purple bruising) after VBeam treatment at effective settings. These circular bruises can take days or more than a week to fade. Swelling in the immediate post-treatment hours or even days is not uncommon.

Can young children or babies be treated?

We do not treat babies at Venus Medical, and rarely treat children. The lasers we use may be available at children’s hospitals, and are effective in treating PWS in children. Your GP may refer you to a paediatric dermatologist to explore your options.

How many treatments will I need for a full treatment?

Several treatments with the VBeam laser may be required, although in some cases dramatic improvement is seen after a single treatment. In more difficult, challenging cases, you may be seen for eight or even more laser sessions.   

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