Venous malformations are present from birth, some are not visible at the time and become more obvious during development and growth through childhood, puberty and adulthood. They bring with them folk-law, and sometimes stigma. They can be present anywhere on the body, deep and invisible or vividly on the surface of the skin and, depending on their location, they can cause significant symptoms, or no symptoms at all. They are seen in both male and females equally and around 2-3% of people have a venous malformation of one sort or another. They form as the result of an error in the normal development of blood vessels, usually as a solitary event, although in rare situations there may be some genetic abnormality, they are usually not passed through families and have no discernible cause other than pure chance.
Venous malformations are usually noticed at birth or in early adulthood, they grow with the body and any other tissue would. They sometimes increase in size if they are damaged, in response to an inflammatory process, or in response to hormonal changes during pregnancy and puberty for example. Importantly, they can grow in response to surgical excision if this is not complete.
Venous Malformations usually present as a soft compressible bluish area, commonly involving the skin, or just beneath it. They are usually restricted to one anatomical area and it is usually the face, limbs or trunk. They are know to occur in deeper structures. Sometimes they only become apparent when they develop a complication such as infection or a thrombosis (blood clot) within the veins of the malformation.
Treatment of Venous Malformations should be on the basis of symptoms, particularly thrombosis causing painful inflammation or bleeding from fragile veins in the surface of the lesion. Consideration must be given to the cosmetic appearance of the lesion and the result of any proposed treatment, and the effects of either treating or not treating a malformation in an important area.
A Specialist Vascular Surgeon will be able to make a critical evaluation of the lesion, its risk and the benefit of treatment. Also the way in which a malformation should be treated and when would be the optimal time. Investigations using a variety of techniques like MRI and CT scans, along with Ultrasound are frequently performed to establish accurately the extent of the malformation and its association with any other underlying structures that might need to be considered.
Treatment nowadays is predominantly performed using injection treatments of chemicals that cause damage and scarring to the lining of the malformation rather than surgical excision.
It is important to know that any form of treatment for Venous Malformation is prone to recurrence over time, but that further treatment can be performed when necessary.
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