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Craniofacial Program

Capillary Malformations


Capillary malformations are low-flow malformations that appear on the skin. They are often referred to as "port-wine stains" and most often occur on the face.

A capillary malformation. This malformation can also be seen on the roof of the mouth



Most often the diagnosis is made based on patient history and physical examination. A MRI may be done to rule out potential underlying syndromes.


Unlike hemangiomas these lesions do not shrink. In fact they often become darker and more nodular when the child reaches adulthood.They may also cause skeletal (bone) overgrowth resulting in changes in the shape of the face.

Capillary malformations may occur on their own or may be part of a complex vascular anomaly (Sturge-Weber and Klippel-Trenaunay syndromes for example).


Treatment of the colour difference is best achieved with laser therapy. Skeletal and soft tissue overgrowth can be treated by surgical excision. This may require staged procedures and would be determined on a case by case basis.