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There are many ways you can help children and their families get the care they need.
Learn more about our ranking as the top pediatric hospital here.
At Children’s, we use a device called a pulsed dye laser to destroy the abnormal blood vessels in the capillary malformation. Pulsed dye laser is the gold standard of treatment for capillary malformations because it is highly effective and rarely causes any scarring.
First, the doctor “tunes” the laser to a specific wavelength of light. It produces a bright light that is absorbed by blood vessels. The abnormal blood vessels are then destroyed without damaging the surrounding skin.
Your child’s physician holds a wand against the skin and "pulses" the laser for about a minute. During the treatment, your child wears eye protection because laser light can potentially harm the eyes.
Not really. The laser light feels a bit like a rubber band snapping against the skin. Afterwards, your child may feel a bit of pain equivalent to a minor sunburn.
There are a few minor side effects:
You may want to apply antibiotic ointment and a bandage to your child’s skin immediately after treatment.
Every kid is different and every capillary malformation responds differently to laser therapy. Laser therapy usually succeeds in lightening the stain, but doesn't make it go away completely.
Not really. But there are a few other things to keep in mind when considering laser therapy:
We recommend starting treatment when your child is an infant. At this time, the stain is still small and so it’s much easier to treat.
However, if your child is older, we can still treat her with the pulsed dye laser, though it may require more treatments to lighten her birthmark.
In the rare case that your child has an underlying condition, we’ll refer him to the appropriate specialists to design a treatment plan.
We understand that you may have a lot of questions when your child is diagnosed with a capillary malformation. We’ve tried to provide some answers to those questions in these pages, and we have a number of other resources to help you and your family.
Patient education: From the first office visit, our nurses will be on hand to walk you through your child’s treatment and help answer any questions you may have, such as: Does my child need treatment? What can we expect next? They will also reach out to you by phone, continuing the care and support you received while at Children’s.
Parent to parent: Want to talk with someone whose child has undergone laser therapy? We can often put you in touch with other families who can share their experience at Children’s.
Counseling: As your child gets older, he may be uncomfortable with his birthmark, especially if it’s in a prominent location such as on the face or neck. One of our counselors can help your child deal with the psychological and social issues related to having a birthmark.
On our For Patients and Families site, you can read all you need to know about:
And here are a few helpful pages with more information about capillary malformations:
A schedule of follow-up care will be determined by your child's physician and other members of your care team. The main purpose of these follow-up appointments will be to check on the effectiveness of the laser therapy and decide whether more treatments are necessary.
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”