Conference Coverage

Laser treatment of port wine stains in infancy found safe, effective


Key clinical point: Laser treatment of port wine stains during infancy is safe and allows for treatment without general anesthesia.

Major finding: On the visual analogue scale, 27.4% of infants achieved complete clearance of their port wine lesion after treatment.

Study details: An analysis of 197 infants aged 1 year or younger with port wine stains who were treated with a pulsed dye laser during 2000-2017.

Disclosures: Dr. Jeon reported having no financial disclosures.

Source: Jeon H et al. ASLMS 2018.



– Laser treatment of port wine stains in infancy is both safe and effective, with no incidence of scarring or pigmentary changes, according to results from a single-center analysis.

“Early intervention allows for treatment without general anesthesia, with faster and more complete clearance than what has been reported for treatments begun at older ages,” Hana Jeon, MD, said at the annual conference of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery.


Facial port wine stain in an infant.

A recent Food and Drug Administration Drug Safety Communication warned that “repeated or lengthy used of general anesthetic and sedation drugs during surgeries or procedures in children younger than 3 years or in pregnant women during their third trimester may affect the development of children’s brains.” Dr. Jeon, a dermatologist in private practice in New York, noted that the FDA warning “places a greater importance on the already controversial topic of when to initiate port wine stain [PWS] treatments in pediatric patients, which requires repeated treatments and are often performed with general anesthesia. Without treatment, these lesions tend to get larger and thicker with time. Starting the treatment during infancy has the potential to limit the use of general anesthesia and to facilitate clearing.”

In what she said is the largest retrospective study of its kind to date, Dr. Jeon and her associates evaluated the success and safety of treating PWSs with a pulsed dye laser at the age of 1 year or younger in the office setting without general anesthesia. The patients received their first PWS treatment at their center during 2000-2017. They reviewed the charts of 197 patients to extract relevant data, including demographic information, age at the time of procedure, and treatment dates. The data cutoff was at 1 year following the initial treatment. Four physicians independently reviewed before and after photos and used the visual analogue scale to grade them.

The pulsed dye laser with dynamic cooling spray was used to minimize patient discomfort. No topical, local, or general anesthesia was used. Patients were immobilized by ancillary staff with parents present in most cases. Ocular shields were placed to allow treatment of periocular lesions.

Of the 197 patients, 63% were female, 90.1% had Fitzpatrick skin types I-III, 8.1% had type IV skin, and the rest had type V-VI skin. Most of the lesions were facial (75.6%), and 41.1% had periocular involvement. The average lesion size was 61 cm2.

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