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Overview of Growths and Malformations of the Vessels

by Denise M Aaron, MD

Growths and malformations of the vessels (angiomas) are collections of abnormally dense blood or lymph vessels, usually located in and below the skin, that cause red or purple discolorations.

  • Many growths and malformations of the vessels appear at birth or shortly afterward.

  • Doctors usually diagnose these growths and malformations by their typical appearance.

  • Treatment depends on the type of growth or malformation present.

Growths and malformations of the vessels include hemangiomas (see Hemangiomas), port-wine stains (see Port-Wine Stains), lymphangiomas (see Lymphangiomas), pyogenic granulomas (see Pyogenic Granulomas), and spider angiomas (nevus araneus—see Spider Angiomas). Some appear at birth or soon afterward, and may be referred to as birthmarks. These different growths and malformations are usually recognized by their appearance, so biopsies are rarely necessary. Up to one third of all newborns have some type of growth or malformation of the vessels (vascular birthmark), most of which disappear by themselves.