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Treatment of Vascular Malformations  

Vascular malformation treatment focuses on improving symptoms and addressing cosmetic concerns.   

A vascular malformation describes an abnormality in a vein, blood vessel, lymph vessel and/or artery that presents as a visible mass or blemish. These malformations—sometimes referred to as anomalies—can cause pain, fatigue, bleeding and swelling. Most vascular malformations are present at birth, although they may sometimes be identified later in life. Some vascular malformations can cause blood flow disruption and increase the risk of ruptured blood vessels and stroke if they are left unaddressed.  
Tampa General Hospital’s Heart & Vascular Institute is led by nationally renowned, board-certified vascular surgeons who routinely treat complex vascular malformations and collaborate with other TGH specialists to provide a full spectrum of expert care. We’re able to deliver world-class outcomes to our patients by merging compassionate treatment with start-of-the-art technologies, such as an ultrasound vascular laboratory that is accredited in five specialty testing areas by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC). 

Treatment Details   

Each patient’s ideal course of vascular malformation treatment will depend on several factors, including:  

  • The location of the malformation  
  • What structures are affected  
  • The risk of complications  
  • The patient’s age, overall health and care preferences   

Treatment also hinges on what type of vascular malformation is present. There are four main types, including:  

  • Lymphatic malformations (LM) – Only affecting lymph vessels  
  • Venous malformations (VM) – Only affecting veins  
  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVM) – Affecting arteries that are directly connected to veins  
  • Venolymphatic malformations (VLM) – Affecting veins and lymph vessels  

Vascular malformations are difficult to cure, but treatment can help relieve symptoms, prevent complications and address cosmetic concerns. Commonly used treatment approaches include:  

  • A “watchful waiting” approach with regular medical monitoring, if the malformation is not causing symptoms 
  • Laser treatment to correct bluish discoloration from venous malformations and address smaller lymphatic malformations  
  • Image-guided, catheter-based treatments such as sclerotherapy and embolization to seal off blood vessels in venous and lymphatic malformations  
  • Surgery to remove as much of the malformation as safely possible, sometimes followed by reconstructive or cosmetic procedures   

Surgery is often combined with other therapies (notably sclerotherapy) to treat especially complex vascular malformations.  

Effectiveness   

It’s possible for some vascular malformations to return after being removed—particularly when post-treatment guidelines and follow-up care are not properly observed. However, treatment of these anomalies is generally considered to be successful, as many patients go on to live normal, healthy and active lives.