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Birthmarks and Vascular Anomalies Center
BVAC Physicians and Staff
Information About Vascular Anomalies
Treatments/ Philosophy
Resources for Patients

BVAC Philosophy/Treatments

Treatment Philosophy

We believe in comprehensive evaluation of patients with vascular anomalies and birthmarks, and the use of appropriate state-of-the-art treatment. Many patients we see do not have curable vascular anomalies, but chronic malformative diseases. As such, we try to address the most debilitating, troublesome aspects of their disease. We avoid treatment for treatment's sake, which in some cases can result in unaccetable morbidity. Available treatments include excisional surgery, laser surgery, embolization and sclerotherapy, anticoagulation therapy, as well as supportive measures such as compressive garments, lymphedema care, and physical therapy.


Corticosteroids: Used for treating hemangiomas. Corticosteroids can be given by mouth or injected into the hemangioma. Oral corticosteroids are most effective if given in the first six months of life. If corticosteroids are given orally for prolonged periods they can cause side effects including increased risk of systemic infection, high blook pressure, diabetes, increased appetite, stomach irritation, growth suppression, etc.

Antibiotics: If a hemangioma or vascular malformation is infected it may be treated with a short course of antibiotics and daily wound cleansing.

Daily Aspirin: Used in the treatment of venous and combined malformations. It prevents clots of blood from forming in the malformation.

Compression Stockings: Used in the treatment of venous, lymphatic, and combine malformations and KT. Specially designed and fitted stockings can prevent swelling associated with these malformations.

Surgical Removal: In some instances, hemangiomas and vascular malformations may be surgially removed. The VAC at UCSF has expert plastic surgeons and pediatric otolaryngologists that operate in operating rooms specifally designed for children.

Laser Therapy: Used for treating some capillary hemangiomas and venous malformations. We have several lasers used for treating vascular anomalies and physicians (Drs Tope and Frieden), who are very experienced laser surgeons.

Sclerotherapy: A procedure that can be used to treat venous malformations and some lymphatic malformations. Under radiologic guidance alcohol is injected into the abnormal vein or lymphatic. The alcohol causes inflammation and scarring which makes the vein or lymphatic close down on itself. This prevents blood or lymph from flowing through the malformation, making it smaller.

Embolization: A procedure that can be used to treat AVMs. Under radiologic guidance a coil is inserted into the abnormal artery, blocking blood flow through the malformation.

Updated: November 30, 2007
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