About Venous Malformations
Venous malformations are a type of vascular malformation. They are caused by a collection of abnormal, enlarged veins that lack normal smooth muscle, which typically lines their walls. The weakening of the walls allows the veins to stretch and enlarge overtime. A VM can develop on any part of the body and are sometimes misdiagnosed in children as deephemangiomas(link to: hemangiomas page).
Venous malformations have the following characteristics:
- A VM can develop in superficial or deep veins
- The malformation may appear as a single lesion or part of multiple lesions
- VMs are soft, compressible and can be indented when pressed on
- VMs can be localized or spread throughout in multiple locations
- Common sites include the mouth, lips, tongue, cheek, side of the face, scalp, and neck
- Swelling and enlarging of the area damaged by VM
- Increased swelling when pressure in the veins rises during the valsalva maneuver (inhaling a breath and holding it tight) or when affected area is lower than the rest of the body
- Typically appear as blue or purplish lesions
- VM s grow progressively and proportionately with the patient over time
- Recurrence is possible
Early Intervention for Venous Malformations
Venous malformations are not curable. They grow and develop throughout the life of a patient and require observation and management to prevent: growth; disfigurement; and functional problems. A birthmark specialist should be consulted as soon as a VM is suspected. Venous malformations involving the tongue or other structures around the airway may cause problems with breathing or speaking. In addition, painful swelling can develop in patients those VM is in the arms and legs.
For most patients with venous malformations, early treatment through a combination of laser therapy, surgery, and/or sclerotherapy is recommended to minimize the progressive enlargement and subsequent deformity that occurs with untreated venous malformations.