What is a vascular anomaly?
A vascular anomaly is an abnormal growth of blood vessels; either arteries, veins, or capillaries. This category of lesions also includes lymphatic malformations, an abnormal growth of lymphatic channels.
There are several types of vascular anomalies that are treated here at the Plastic Surgery Center with a multidisciplinary approach.
A capillary malformation is a flat vascular stain of the skin. These are sometimes referred to as “port-wine” stains or “stork bites” because of the color of these areas of skin. These lesions cover large areas of the face or body and are treated best with laser to avoid large, unsightly scars. Throughout this treatment, we aim to keep children comfortable and at ease with the use of sleep sedation.
Hemangiomas are non-cancerous growths or tumors that are most commonly seen in children. These red lesions are caused by an abnormal growth of arteries. Hemangiomas usually develop sometime after birth and have a rapid growth phase. After the rapid growth phase, they shrink in size and usually become the color of the surrounding skin. These lesions are usually removed surgically. Even when they do become flesh-colored, there is still extra, loose skin. Hemangiomas that are close to the airway or the eyes and could potentially affect breathing or sight in the developing child must be tended to immediately. At The Plastic Surgery Center, we work together with our partner hematologists to place these patients on medications that can help to slow or reduce the growth of hemangiomas. Then, together with the hematologists, we design a treatment plan to best remove the lesions.
Venous malformations are a result of abnormally developed veins, which have stretched or enlarged over time. These lesions are often present at birth and grow with the child or patient. Venous malformations are composed of an abnormal network of veins. They often become worse at the end of the day, when the lesions fill with blood. These malformations are best treated with our partner interventional radiologists who can inject a sclerosing agent to close off the feeding vessels. If the lesions shrink, they may then be amenable to surgical removal. We continue to monitor the skin throughout the course of treatment to manage any wounds that may develop.
These lesions are a combination of abnormal artery and vein growth. They can be pulsatile (throbbing) and are often treated with the help of our partner interventional radiologists. An interventional radiologist may assist in embolization of the malformation pre-operatively, allowing for more complete resection and a decreased blood loss during surgical removal.
These malformations are amongst the most troublesome, as they are more prone to infection than other lesions. Surgical removal is the standard treatment for lymphatic malformations. These may also be treated with our partner interventional radiologists with the use of minimally-invasive ablation and/or sclerotherapy to help reduce the risk of recurrence.
If you are unsure which of these categories your “birthmark” falls into, please schedule a consultation today with one of our plastic surgeons at the Plastic Surgery Center!