Port Wine Stains

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Port Wine Stains

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Port Wine Stains

A port wine stain is a persistent dark red to purple congenital vascular malformation, which is a superficial, noncancerous growth that forms due to an abnormal collection of blood vessels. In a simpler form, a red or purple birthmark.

Port wine stains occur in about 3 out of 1000 people. Usually present from birth, the port wine stain occurs as a birthmark that generally grows on the face but can appear anywhere on the body. They persist throughout life and the area of skin directly affected grows in proportion to general growth. Port wines stains affect both male and females equally and have found not to be hereditary.

What causes a Port Wine Stain?

The most tentative explanation for the development of a Port Wine Stain is the lack of or absence of surrounding nerve impulses regulating blood flow throughout the capillary network. As a result the blood vessels and capillaries are unable to constrict and remain permanently dilated allowing blood to stagnate in the affected area.

What happens if I leave it untreated?

In some cases, If left untreated, a Port Wine Stain can results in both physical and psychological trauma.
Physical: due to the increased tissue mass as a port wine stain/affected patient ages as well as increased vascular nodule development, the affected PWS is more susceptible to bleeding or haemorrhaging and facial features can be distorted.
Psychological: if the PWS is on the face or other highly visible part of the body, its presence can also cause emotional and social problems for the affected patient.

How does treatment work?

Short, safe bursts of light are directed at the skin. These may be visible Intense Pulsed Light), depending on the type of Port Wine Stain you want treated. The system filters the light to ensure the wavelengths used are absorbed by haemoglobin in the blood in your problem vessels. The light is converted to heat, which destroys the protein in the wall of the vessels, causing the vessels to gradually disappear after treatment. To ensure the best light transmission, a thin layer of gel (like that used in ultrasound examinations) is applied to your skin before treatment.

How long does an Ellipse treatment take?

The treatment time depends on the area to be covered and the number of distinct vessels to be treated. A single session typically lasts 15-30 minutes.

Do I need to take special precautions before and after treatment?

  • It is, important to avoid tanning (sun, solarium or self-tanning products) before and during the treatment period. Otherwise your tanned skin will absorb more light, which makes treatment less effective and less comfortable.
  • It is also a good idea to avoid smoking in the 4 hours prior to treatment. Generally, no special care is necessary after treatment, but people with sensitive skin may benefit from applying a cold compress (a cold damp cloth) to the area immediately after treatment or from using an ointment prescribed by the doctor.
  • After treatment, you should avoid sun exposure for 30 days, even if there is no sign of inflammation in the treated area.
  • Use sun protection (minimum SPF 30) if sun exposure cannot be avoided.

How many treatments do I need?

The number of treatments depends on location and number of the vessels to be treated. Generally it ranges between 4-10 treatments.

Does the treatment hurt?

No anaesthetics are required, and many patients describe the treatment as being like a snap from a rubber band followed by a sensation similar to the feeling of gentle sunburn.


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