Port-wine stain masters

Most people have some sort of birthmark, a small skin blemish easily hidden under clothing or hair. But three out of every 1,000 American children are born with a larger type of birthmark called a port-wine stain that can significantly affect their quality of life.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s forehead hosts perhaps the world’s most famous port-wine stain. These disfiguring vascular birthmarks — which literally look like red wine splashed on the skin — can cover large areas of the face, neck and upper body and left untreated can darken and swell into hard lumps, leading to bleeding and infections.

Dramatic improvements in laser removal treatments over the past decade have given dermatologists and surgeons greater ability to lighten or even fully remove these intrusive birthmarks.

The Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic at UC Irvine is home to one of the nation’s elite research and treatment centers for vascular birthmarks. Directed by Dr. J. Stuart Nelson, the program treats hundreds of patients with varying forms of birthmarks with state-of-the-art technologies and procedures. Its doctors also use lasers to remove acne scars, sunspots and tattoos.

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