Birthmarks best treated with red laser light

June 15, 1999

Mikhail Gorbachev was probably not greatly troubled by the "port wine stain" on his forehead, or perhaps he had no faith in the available treatments. Nevertheless, one in three of such birthmarks can be effectively treated using a laser. As part of a project funded by the NWO's Technology Council (STW), physicists at the University of Amsterdam have been able to improve the method considerably by increasing the wavelength of the laser light by a few nanometres, making it redder and able to penetrate better.

About 1% of normal skin consists of blood vessels. "Port wine" birthmarks have far more blood vessels than normal and the diameter of these vessels is also much greater. This gives the characteristic port-wine colour. This type of skin abnormality can be treated using photo-selective thermolysis, during which the area is irradiated with laser light of a particular colour; this is absorbed well by the blood but not by the rest of the skin. The light energy absorbed is converted into heat, which causes the blood vessels to shrivel up. After a period of healing, the area treated looks more like the surrounding normal skin.

The Dutch physicists developed a model enabling them to mimic the effect of various different types of laser light. They found that laser light at the wavelength of 585 nanometres currently used could hardly reach the centre of the large blood vessels. By choosing a slightly different colour, for example 590 nanometres, the deeper blood vessels were also accessible, without damage being done to the rest of the skin tissue. It should be noted that some 20% to 30% of "port wine" birthmarks are still not amenable to laser treatment, or only to a very limited extent, and treatment is sometimes painful, lengthy and expensive.

Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research

Related Blood Vessels Articles from Brightsurf:

Biofriendly protocells pump up blood vessels
In a new study published today in Nature Chemistry, Professor Stephen Mann and Dr Mei Li from Bristol's School of Chemistry, together with Associate Professor Jianbo Liu and colleagues at Hunan University and Central South University in China, prepared synthetic protocells coated in red blood cell fragments for use as nitric oxide generating bio-bots within blood vessels.

Specific and rapid expansion of blood vessels
Upon a heart infarct or stroke, rapid restoration of blood flow, and oxygen delivery to the hypo perfused regions is of eminent importance to prevent further damage to heart or brain.

Flexible and biodegradable electronic blood vessels
Researchers in China and Switzerland have developed electronic blood vessels that can be actively tuned to address subtle changes in the body after implantation.

Lumpy proteins stiffen blood vessels of the brain
Deposits of a protein called ''Medin'', which manifest in virtually all older adults, reduce the elasticity of blood vessels during aging and hence may be a risk factor for vascular dementia.

Cancer cells take over blood vessels to spread
In laboratory studies, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center and Johns Hopkins University researchers observed a key step in how cancer cells may spread from a primary tumor to a distant site within the body, a process known as metastasis.

Novel function of platelets in tumor blood vessels found
Scientists at Uppsala University have discovered a hitherto unknown function of blood platelets in cancer.

Blood vessels can make you fat, and yet fit
IBS scientists have reported Angiopoietin-2 (Angpt2) as a key driver that inhibits the accumulation of potbellies by enabling the proper transport of fatty acid into general circulation in blood vessels, thus preventing insulin resistance.

Brothers in arms: The brain and its blood vessels
The brain and its surrounding blood vessels exist in a close relationship.

Feeling the pressure: How blood vessels sense their environment
Researchers from the University of Tsukuba discovered that Thbs1 is a key extracellular mediator of mechanotransduction upon mechanical stress.

Human textiles to repair blood vessels
As the leading cause of mortality worldwide, cardiovascular diseases claim over 17 million lives each year, according to World Health Organization estimates.

Read More: Blood Vessels News and Blood Vessels Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to