What is a port-wine stain?
A port wine stain (PWS) is a type of birthmark that appears as a red or purple mark on the skin. It is caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels in the affected area, which leads to the accumulation of blood and the resulting discoloration. PWS can occur anywhere on the body, but they are most common on the face, neck, and limbs.
The condition gets its name because it looks like someone spilled or splashed dark red wine on the skin.
What causes port-wine stains?
Port-wine stains are a kind of vascular birthmark, meaning that they’re related to the skin’s blood vessels. Usually, blood capillaries are narrow. However, they are overly dilated in port-wine stains, allowing blood to accumulate in them. This collection of blood is what gives port-wine stains their distinctive colour.
The exact cause of PWS is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to abnormalities in the development of the blood vessels during fetal development. PWS is a congenital condition, which means that it is present at birth. It is not contagious or infectious and is not caused by anything the mother did or didn’t do during pregnancy.
While some cases of PWS may disappear on their own, many persist into adulthood and require treatment to improve the appearance of the affected area. The effectiveness of treatment varies from person to person, with most patients requiring 10 or more sessions of the laser in order to achieve clearance.
Are port-wine stains harmful?
Most port-wine stains are harmless and do not usually require treatment. The biggest concern is often whether a port-wine birthmark will upset a child or hurt their self-confidence.
Port-wine stain removal treatments
One treatment option for PWS is laser therapy, specifically pulse dye laser (PDL) treatment – which is also commonly utilised for acne treatment in Singapore. V Beam laser is a type of PDL that is specifically designed to treat PWS. It uses a high-energy beam of light to target and destroy the abnormal blood vessels that cause PWS. The laser is absorbed by the blood vessels, causing them to break down and be absorbed by the body.
V Beam laser also has a cooling device that helps to protect the surrounding skin from the heat of the laser. This makes it a safer and more comfortable option for patients with sensitive skin. V Beam laser is usually effective in reducing the redness and visibility of PWS, but multiple treatments may be necessary to achieve the desired result.
Do port wine stains go away with age?
Over time, port wine stains usually get darker and thicker. They also may become raised rather than flat and smooth.
It is difficult to predict which cases of PWS will remain into adulthood and require treatment. However, PWS that are present at birth and are larger or darker in color are more likely to persist into adulthood. PWS that are located on the face or neck are also more likely to persist into adulthood.
In summary, PWS is a congenital condition that is caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels in the affected area. While some cases may disappear on their own, many persist into adulthood and require treatment to improve the appearance of the affected area. V Beam laser is a type of pulse dye laser that is specifically designed to treat PWS, and is usually effective in reducing the redness and visibility of PWS. It is difficult to predict which cases of PWS will persist into adulthood, but those that are present at birth and are larger or darker in color, or located on the face or neck, are more likely to persist.