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Pediatric plastic surgeons at Shriners Children’s are able to help with all types of birthmarks including vascular anomalies and malformation.

Many birthmarks are harmless and will go away on their own. Vascular anomalies are birthmarks that do not go away and will continue to grow larger as the child grows. A vascular anomaly or vascular malformation occurs when blood vessels develop differently. They can be red or purple marks obvious at birth but sometimes these collections of blood vessels or lymphatic fluid are not noticeable until years later. Our plastic surgeons can meet with expectant parents with a diagnosis of a vascular anomaly on their developing baby.

Vascular anomalies sometimes affect a child’s appearance and cause health issues such as abnormal growth in the affected area, pain or swelling. Vascular malformations on the face sometimes impact breathing or speaking. These benefit from care by our specialized plastic surgeons who help children with all types of differences reach their goals and dreams. Treatment will vary based on size, location and type and may involve plastic surgery, laser surgery or steroids.

Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Common Vascular Anomalies and Malformations

Birthmarks may be treated surgically with tissue expansion, skin grafts, lasers or with corrective makeup.

Some common birthmarks:

  • Port wine stains (capillary vascular malformations): These are flat red or purple marks on the face or other body parts at birth. The skin will darken and thicken as the child grows. Laser surgery can treat port wine stains.
  • Stork bites (telangiectactic nevi): These are flat pink spots on baby’s skin.
  • Lymphangiomas: These form when excess fluid accumulates within the lymphatic vessels
  • Hemangioma: This is the most common benign tumor of the skin, which is usually a red mark. Facial hemangiomas (strawberry hemangioma) can disfigure a child's face but many grow and then disappear on their own.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Treatment

Shriners Children's plastic surgeons and a team of multidisciplinary specialists treat all types of birthmarks including vascular malformations.

Plastic surgeons provide removal and reconstructive surgery for some vascular malformations that are very visible, affect functions like breathing or speaking, or the skin is breaking down, putting the child at high risk of infection.

How birthmarks are addressed surgically depends on the location, size and type. Plastic surgery treatment of smaller lesions may include removal and stitches. We offer advanced techniques for larger areas such as skin grafting, tissue expansion (surrounding skin is stretched over time with expanders) or microsurgical free flap surgeries. These treatments can help children born with these differences enjoy full, happy lives.

Laser Surgery Treatment

Shriners Children’s offers laser surgery at some locations to treat vascular anomalies and vascular malformations like port wine stains.

LASER stands for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Instead of using traditional surgical instruments, laser surgery targets special light beams to specific areas on the child’s body to promote healing.

Pediatric plastic surgeons are able to help with all types of birthmarks. The timing of surgery is a collaboration between surgeon and family to help make sure development and play are not disrupted.
Julia Corcoran, M.D., Shriners Children's Chicago
male burn patient smiling

Laser Surgery for Scar Improvement and Reduction

Shriners Children’s offers laser surgery to treat vascular anomalies and vascular malformations like port wine stains. Instead of using traditional surgical instruments, laser surgery targets special light beams to specific areas on the child’s body to promote healing.

Services We Provide

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Psychiatry & Psychological Services

Our psychologists at Shriners Children's specialize in evaluating and providing support to children and their families who are adjusting to a new diagnosis or having difficulty in their everyday lives due to trauma.

Care Management

The care management team at Shriners Children's consists of registered nurses and social workers who act as resources for families throughout their plan of care.

Child Life Services

Child life professionals at Shriners Children’s take pride in focusing on the "above and beyond" aspects of medical care for our patients. From procedure support to camps, they are ready to advocate for your family.

Facial and Dental Imaging

Shriners Children’s offers specialized facial and dental imaging (X-rays) for children with craniofacial differences. The painless process helps surgeons and doctors understand each child’s unique facial anatomy to plan treatment.

Makeup Clinic

At Shriners Children’s our make-up clinic specialists teach your child how to conceal scars and use make-up to soften their appearance. This helps build self-confidence during the healing process.

Interpreter Services

Interpretive services are important to make sure you understand your child’s care. At Shriners Children's, we have Spanish interpreters and other translation services, free of charge.

Virtual Surgical Planning

Shriners Children's craniofacial surgery team may use virtual surgical planning (VSP) before a child's surgery. VSP creates a model of the child's jaw, teeth or face, helping our team plan exact details for the surgery.

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

Log in to the Patient Portal

Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.