Pulsed Dye Laser Risks for a 2-year-old with hemangioma?

My 2-year-old daughter is having a pulsed dye laser treatment on her quarter size hemangioma on her face next week. I am wondering, what are the risks of scars and depigmentation?

Doctor Answers 3

Pulsed Dye Laser for Vascular Birthmarks

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Vascular Birthmarks are characterized by their red color in contrast to pigmented birthmarks which derive their color from melanocytes (brown pigment producing cells).  

The pulsed dye laser is commonly used to treat vascular birthmarks which are also known as capillary vascular malformations or port wine stains.  

These are easier to treat in children than adults because of the skin thickens as we age and the pulsed dye laser penetrates only 0.7mm into the skin making it a very superficial (and safe) laser.  

If anesthesia is to be used, I recommend using a Board Certified Pediatric Anesthesiologist in a facility accredited to meet the special needs of children (PALS staff, proper equipment, access to a pediatric hospital, etc.)  

Complications of pulsed dye laser include:  scarring, pigmentary changes, blistering, failure to get a good result, and need for additional laser procedures.  Sun exposure both before and after the treatment can be a problem and result in scarring, blistering, or pigmentary alterations in the skin.  Generally, it requires between 5 and 10 pulsed dye laser treatments for the average port wine stain.  

Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Pulse dye laser for hemangiomas

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This laser is a very good choice for your child's hemangioma.  Risks are low.  The treating physician will discuss the importance of eye safety and wearing of protective eye gear during treatment.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Risks Are Minimal

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The risks of problems with pulse dye laser even in a 2 year old are small assuming the procedure is performed by a trained and experienced physician - and by trained and experienced I mean with pulsed dye lasers. There are always risks of scarring and pigment irregularities but lasers are generally the best treatment for hemangiomas which do not require excision.

D.J. Verret, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.