Capillary Malformations

Capillary malformations are slow-flow malformations that appear on the skin. As the name suggests, the predominant type of vessel in these lesions is the capillary. The skin will appear deep purple or red and can be patchy and quite extensive. They may be referred to as "port wine stains," and most often occur on the face.

Diagnosis for Capillary Malformations

Diagnosis is typically made based on a patient history and physical examination. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test may be done to determine the extent of the lesion and to rule out deeper tissue abnormalities. Capillary malformations may also be associated with rare syndromes. Although not routinely performed, a biopsy of the lesion will reveal a capillary-type lesion.

Capillary Malformations Over Time

Vascular lesions do not shrink. In fact, they often become darker and more nodular when the child reaches adulthood. They may also cause skeletal (bone) overgrowth, resulting in changes in the shape of the body parts they occupy, including the arms, legs, trunk, or face. Capillary malformations may occur in isolation or may be part of a combined vascular anomaly, such as Parkes Weber or Klippel-Trenaunay syndromes.

Treatment for Capillary Malformations

Laser therapy may be effective in treating some capillary malformations but may not completely remove red or purple coloration from the skin or affected area. Surgical removal may be needed in some instances where tissue or bone has overgrown. This may require multiple staged procedures and must be considered on a case by case basis.

Complications of Capillary Malformations

Capillary malformations usually do not produce any serious complications. Occasionally, they may bleed. To stop bleeding, apply direct pressure and standard wound care to the area.