One in ten children in this country is born with a vascular anomaly -- a birthmark or a growth made up of blood vessels (arteries, veins, capillaries and/or lymphatic vessels). Many of these congenital lesions require medical therapy, laser treatment and/or surgical intervention. Vascular anomalies include:
- Hemangiomas, the most common type of birthmark or benign tumor of the skin. Hemangiomas are either present at birth or appear shortly after birth and grow rapidly. Most develop on the skin in the head or neck area.
- Lymphatic, venous and arteriovenous malformations, named according to the type of blood vessel that is primarily affected. These birthmarks are often present at birth, although sometimes they are not apparent until later in life. They tend to grow with the child, although injuries and infections can make them temporarily swell.
- Less common vascular malformations, arteriovenous malformations refer to the formation of channels between arteries and veins that can result in “fast-flow” lesions. Sometimes these can appear together with overlying vascular birthmarks.
- Rare vascular tumors, which can form in the skin, bones, liver, lung and extremities. Most of these tumors are benign. In some cases they are treated with surgery, and in others they are responsive to medications.