These lesions are made up of a plexus of dilated veins. Venous malformations (VMs)can be localized or diffuse, superficial or deep. Certain anatomical sites are frequently involved, these include mouth, lips, tongue, cheek, side of the face and neck. If the venous malformation is superficial, the skin and/or mucosa has a bluish hue. Since venous malformations are essentially on the venous side of the circulation, they will enlarge when the area involved is in the dependent position. As the patient gets older, the malformation will expand and if the overlying skin or mucosa is very thin, this can result in bleeding. Venous malformations may be multifocal and they have a spongy consistency to palpation. Almost 50% of patients with head or neck VM will also have airway disease. For this reason, it is advisable to see an ENT (ear, nose throat) doctor to rule out any airway disease.
The underlying cause of venous malformations is probably the same as portwine stains except that the level of involvement is at a deeper level.
Treatment of venous malformations
Several forms of treatment are available for venous malformations. These include laser treatment, sclerotherapy, and surgery. The form of treatment(s) appropriate for your venous malformation will depend on the location and distribution of the lesion.
Patients with venous malformations should be seen by a multidisciplinary team in order to determine the best treatment. This will prevent a physician from prescribing the treatment he/she is most familiar with for every malformation.