An Overview Of Treating Your Baby's Port Wine Stain With Laser Therapy

If your baby was born with a port wine stain on the face, you may be concerned about how it will affect his or her self-confidence in the future. While the stain itself usually isn't harmful, it has an impact upon your child's appearance, which can be difficult to deal with during the childhood and teen years. Also, the stains tend to get darker and thicker with age, so the appearance of the stain will probably become more pronounced over time. One solution is to have your baby treated with laser therapy. Here's an overview of how it works.

When Laser Treatments Can Be Started

Laser treatments for port wine stains can begin in early infancy. It's thought the earlier treatments begin, the more successful the outcome. However, if you're adverse to starting the treatments while your child is still an infant, you can begin laser treatments at any time, even when your child is fully grown. However, besides getting better results as an infant, the treatments are usually easier on the child at an early age. Once your child reaches the toddler years, he or she may not be as cooperative with the treatments, while an infant will probably sleep through the procedure.

How The Treatments Are Given

Laser treatments are given in the doctor's office. You want to choose a doctor with experience in treating infants with lasers. Eye shields are required to protect the eyes from lasers. Your child may be given an anesthetic cream or spray over the area. If the stain is very large, your child may be put to sleep during the treatment so he or she will be comfortable. However, if the stain is small and it's done while your child is in early infancy, anesthetic might not be required at all.

During the treatments, the skin is zapped with laser light to reduce the capillaries under the stain. The increased growth of capillaries near the skin's surface is what gives the stain its red color. As the capillaries fade, so does the stain. The capillaries are very tiny in early infancy, and this is one reason the stain is much easier to eliminate while your child is young. It will probably take a series of treatments to achieve the desired results.

What To Expect After The Laser Treatments

Don't expect the stain to be gone right after the treatments. There will probably be swelling, redness, and even bruising for a week or two. Your baby's skin is very sensitive, so it will take several days for the effects of the treatment to heal. Once the area has healed, the stain will still be visible. It could take a few months for your baby's body to absorb the damaged capillaries and clear them from the skin. Your infant should have complete or partial clearing of the stain after that time.

For more information, contact Shriners Hospitals for Children – Cincinnati.