Vascular birthmarks occur in one in ten babies and are caused by an overgrowth of blood vessels in the skin. Some of these birthmarks resolve spontaneously in the first few years of life but port wine stains persist.
Port wine stains are often large and disfiguring and cause psychological distress and emotional problems in the sufferer.
Treatment with vascular lasers has revolutionised the treatment of port wine birthmarks over recent years, however, their response to laser treatment is unpredictable and less than 10% of sufferers achieve complete fading of their birthmark after treatment with pulsed dye laser.
Moreover, they can recur after treatment and we have not been able to offer sufferers a solution for this.
Dr Stuart Nelson, Professor of Surgery from the University of California, talked on a novel approach to the treatment of port wine birthmarks at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australasian College of Dermatologists in Brisbane.
This new treatment is termed 'photochemotherapy" and combines laser light with a drug that inhibits the formation of blood vessels. The laser treatment causes injury to the abnormal blood vessels and a drug is then administered to prevent the blood vessels reforming. It is envisaged that this will lead to better treatment outcomes for sufferers of this cosmetically challenging problem.
- Dr Stuart Nelson