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Vascular Malformations

Vascular Malformations Close Up

What is a Vascular Malformation?

Vascular Malformation is a general term used to describe a variety of vascular abnormalities. Usually these abnormalities will look like a cluster, blemish, or mass of red on your skin and may cause pain, swelling, or bleeding. Some symptoms of vascular malformations include:

  • Venous Malformation: Looks like a lump under the skin or an overlying birthmark. They may cause pain wherever they are located. Bleeding or leaking fluid may also be visible.
  • Arteriovenous Malformation: May cause pain, this type of malformation places more stress on the heart due to the rapid shunting of blood from arteries to veins. You may also notice bleeding depending on the location (most commonly found coming from the bowels, uterus, or bladder).
  • Hemangioma: This term refers to a childhood vascular abnormality that has a rapid growth rate in the infancy stage between birth and 3 months of age. Hemangiomas generally resolve by age 7.
  • Pulmonary Arteriovenous Malformations (PAVMs): Result in symptoms including: low oxygen, fatigue, and shortness of breath because they shunt blood from the right heart system to the left hear system without picking up oxygen in the lungs. These malformations are also susceptible to bleeding, resulting in coughing up blood from the chest.

Why do Vascular Malformations Occur?

Vascular malformations can occur at any age. Most occur and become apparent in infants after birth or at the young adult stage. While it is rare, we do sometimes see vascular malformations in older people when blood flow increases through abnormal artery and vein connections. While we don’t quite understand how they work, we do know that certain types are inherited genetically; such as the pulmonary arteriovenous malformation, which is associated with Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia (HHT).  Hormonal changes may also affect the development of vascular malformations. Stages of life like pregnancy and puberty result in fluid or blood accumulating in underdeveloped veins or lymphatic channels. If you have any further questions or would like to schedule a free consultation with Dr. Laughlin, call us today.

Vascular Malformation Treatment

Sclerotherapy is the main form of nonsurgical intervention for vascular malformations. It effectively treats most varicose and spider veins. It involves injecting a solution directly into the affected vein. The solution forces the vein to scar, rerouting the blood to go through healthier veins. The vein eventually collapses and is reabsorbed into the local tissue. After the collapse, the scar will eventually fade.

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