Vascular malformations

  • Vascular malformation

Vascular malformations is a term used to describe a number of lesions and blood vessel abnormalities.

What are Vascular malformations?

There are two main types of vascular malformations:


  • Haemangiomas are acquired lesions that affect infants and enlarge to cause disfiguring lesions.  Fortunately they almost always regress completely without treatment.  The term haemangioma is often used incorrectly to include vascular malformations.
  • True vascular malformations are congenital abnormalities of blood vessels.  They are rare and their cause is unknown. 

Vascular malformations are present at birth though may grow markedly in response to puberty, pregnancy, trauma or a misguided attempt at excision.


Treatment is not always necessary; many vascular malformations can be safely left alone.  

What part of the body do they affect?

Vascular malformations can occur anywhere on the body. 

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms and signs vary widely as a skin component may be easily visible but this may represent only a small part of a much larger abnormality.  Some lesions are painful while others cause extreme deformity (everyone is familiar with the Elephant Man, he had an extensive vascular malformation).  High flow lesions may have a bruit (a whooshy noise audible through a stethoscope) while lymphatic malformations may weep and ulcerate.

Is the condition preventable? If so, how?

Vascular malformations are not preventable but should be assessed (and if necessary treated) by a vascular specialist at the earliest opportunity. 

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