Port-wine stains happen when an area of skin doesn’t get any (or an insufficient) supply of nerve fibers, which normally help keep blood vessels narrow. When there’s a lack of nerve fibers, small blood vessels (called capillaries) keep expanding, allowing a greater amount of blood to flow into the blood vessels, causing a stain to form under the skin. Birthmarks that form like this are called vascular birthmarks.
Vascular birthmarks called macular stains (also known as salmon patches, angel kisses, or stork bites) may resemble port-wine stains. They’re faint red marks often found on the forehead or eyelids, the back of the neck, or on the nose, upper lip, or on the back of the head. These often fade on their own by the time a child is 1 to 2 years old.
Port-wine stains (also known as nevus flammeus) can be anywhere on the body but most commonly are found on the face, neck, scalp, arms, or legs. They can be any size, and usually grow in proportion with a child.
Port-wine stain can be particularly hard on people in their teen, and pre-teen years, as they are often in a noticeable area, such as the face. In a time when fitting in can be a challenge, this can effect self-esteem. Treatment of port-wine stain usually consists of multiple treatments, Usually 6 to 10 treatments will give the desired effect, and a much-needed confidence boost.
A cooling gel is often applied at the clinic to the area to be treated, to make treatment more comfortable. The treated area should be kept covered for approximately 48 hours after treatment. Treatment schedules range from eight to ten weeks between treatments.
Treatments usually take only a few minutes to perform.