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What is a Vascular Birthmark? Treatment, Removal & Pictures

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This article looks intensively at the category of birthmarks referred to as vascular birthmarks. In it, you will get to answer the question what are vascular birthmarks. We also let you know the vascular birthmark removal and treatment options that there are.

Birthmarks are patches found on the skin that are usually colored differently from the rest of the body. These fall into two main categories:

  • Pigmented birthmarks are normally brown in color and are formed by an accumulation of cells under the skin. Examples are café-au-lait spots and Mongolian spots.
  • Vascular birthmarks are as a result of irregular formation of blood vessels beneath the skin.

This article will focus vascular birthmarks, their treatment and removal.

What Is a Vascular Birthmark?

To begin us off in trying to understand the different types of birthmarks, it is important to answer the question what is a vascular birthmark. A vascular birthmark is a red, pink or purple colored patch on or in the skin that occurs due to the abnormal growth of blood vessels found within the skin. A vascular birthmark can appear anywhere on the body but it is most common on the face, head and neck.

Vascular birthmarks are further grouped into two. These are:

  • Vascular malformations: The specific birthmarks that fall into this subgroup are port wine stains and stork bites.
  • Haemangiomas: the most common birthmark under this is what is commonly referred to as strawberry marks.

Vascular malformations

Vascular malformations are usually present at birth but they could as well developsome time after the baby is born. They mostly consist of small capillaries collecting under the skin. Vascular malformations classified as port wine stains grow slowly during the entire life of a child and they do not disappear with time. The stork bites though are not permanent. The two main forms of vascular malformation birthmarks are as discussed below.

Stork bites

These are flat skin patches, which could be red or pink in color. They mostly form on the baby’s forehead, eyelids and on the back of the neck. Stork bites become more visible when there are changes in temperature, in case the baby becomes agitated for any reason and when the baby cries. They are not permanent and tend to disappear on their own as the child grows up. They are the most common type of birthmarks found in newborn babies.

Port wine stains

These are flat red or purple wine-like stains on the skin’s surface. They are common on the face and neck but can also be found in other parts of the body such as arms, legs and the back. These marks are most common in females and tend to be affected by hormonal changes. Thy are therefore most visible in puberty, pregnancy and menopause.

The marks are permanent and their coloration tends to darken with time. In case they are on the eyes, they tend to increase blood pressure to the eyes

Lymphatic birthmarks

These are as a result of malformations that occur in the lymphatic nodes in the body due to the collection of liquid. It is hard to treat such malformations.


A hemangioma is a swollen mark on the skin. It is also known as strawberry mark because of its color and appearance. A haemangioma begins as a very tiny red patch on the skin which rapidly develops into a lump on the surface of the skin. They stop growing at around the time when a baby is one year old at which point they start shrinking before completely disappearing.

There are three types of hemangiomas:

Superficial haemangioma: This is usually red in color and occurs above the skin.

Deep hemangioma: This type forms beneath the skin and as such appears purple or blue in color.

Mixed haemangioma: This one tends to have some bits of both the superficial and deep hemangioma characteristics.

Vascular Birthmark Removal

There are some vascular birthmarks that tend to fade away with time. Others such as the port wine birthmarks are permanent in nature. These can only be gotten rid of by undergoing a medical treatment procedure. This will make it fade away by lightening up the skin on which it is found but not completely disappear. Salmon patches or stork bites go away on their own with time. They therefore do not need to be removed.

A good number of hemangiomas reduce in size with time and disappear completely on their own. There are some exceptional ones that may cause complications due to their positioning. These can be removed using laser treatment, surgery or medication.

Vascular Birthmarks Pictures

Below are some pictures showing the various types of vascular birthmarks

Salmon patch
Salmon patch
Vascular birthmark
Vascular birthmark
Strawberry vascular birthmark
Strawberry vascular birthmark
Salmon patch vascular birthmark
Salmon patch vascular birthmark

Vascular Birthmark Treatment

There are times that one may be required to seek vascular birthmark treatment. Port wine stains tend to be permanent and may affect ones appearance when found on the face. To restore a person’s esteem, it may be necessary to seek treatment on cosmetic grounds.

In other cases, the birthmarks may develop complications. Strawberry marks when hurt bleed profusely. They may even become infected

Vascular birthmark before and after treatment
Vascular birthmark before and after treatment

when they open up. This may necessitate one to seek treatment to get rid of them. Depending on where they are located, they may also cause problems in eating, breathing and seeing. To restore normal functionality of other body parts, it is important to seek treatment.

The various forms of treatment available include steroid treatment, which can be administered orally or given as an injection. There are also some creams available for treatment of birthmarks. if these do not work or the doctor does not approve of them, laser therapy could be used, this is the most cost effective and efficient way of getting birthmarks removed. It is also advantageous since it is safe for use on babies.

Surgery is yet another method that can be used for vascular birthmark treatment. This is done under localized anesthesia and it does not require hospitalization. This method is likely to leave a scar after the birthmark has been removed. A plastic surgeon can correct this.

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