Congenital vascular malformation (CVM) is a term that describes a cluster of blood vessels that forms abnormally due to development problems in the early stages of fetal development. It is thought that only about one percent of the U.S. population is born with a vascular malformation or birthmark.


Vascular malformations form on or near the skin’s surface and can appear as anything from a simple birthmark or areas of deep purple discoloration to bleeding or painful sores.

What Causes Birthmarks and Other Vascular Malformations?

Birthmarks are not all the same. In fact, there are several potential causes for a birthmark to form, including two types caused by CVM. Birthmarks can be harmless, but many can develop problems as a child grows older or later in life as an adult. There are several types of birthmarks including:

Most birthmarks result from a CVM that forms as a cluster of small blood vessels that sit near the skin’s surface. They vary in size from small to large, are usually permanent and maintain the same size and appearance throughout a person’s lifetime.

Hemangiomas (non-cancerous vascular tumors) grow rapidly within months after first appearing, but most disappear completely by age six, leaving behind a patch of elastic-feeling skin. Sometimes, though, a hemangioma may develop an ulcer, a crater-like area of skin loss. This ulceration can be unsightly and may even impact how the affected area of your body functions.

Port-wine stains are capillary malformations that run through the deeper layers of the skin. At birth, they may appear pink or red, but with time change into a deep purple color. They can be disfiguring, and many people with port-wine stains seek treatment if it appears on the face, neck or other areas where skin is exposed. Port-wine stains can cause changes to skin texture, creating a “cobblestone effect,” and can be associated with overgrowth of underlying bone and soft tissue.

Lesions (wounds) include:

Venous malformations form bluish patches (lesions) on the skin and linings of the nose and mouth. These lesions can be painful, causing inflammation and swelling. This type of malformation, which is present at birth, usually becomes larger and new lesions may appear.

Deformity of the lymphatic channels, known as lymphatic malformations,  can be found within the skin or soft tissue. This type of CMV is especially at risk for infection that includes swelling, warmth, redness, and pain.

When lesions form at the skin, they appear as a painful cluster of blisters that sometimes discharge watery fluid (vesicles). This is called a microcystic malformation. Macrocystic malformation lesions form deeper in the body’s soft tissue. They are often found in the neck or armpit as a hard lump with a bluish skin discoloration.

Arteriovenous Malformations. This rarest of CMV can also be life-threatening. These malformations are present at birth, but usually don’t have any symptoms other than appearing as pinkish-red blushes on the skin. Due to unusually increased blood flow from abnormal artery-vein connections, soft tissues, the surrounding skin, and underlying bone may die. This can cause pain and lead to episodes of bleeding that can be life-threatening. Expansion of these lesions can cause significant disfigurement and functional problems as well.


Treatment Options

At your appointment, the doctor will conduct a physical examination, ask questions about your goals, concerns and symptoms, and may recommend treatment depending upon the CVM diagnosis, your skin type, family history, underlying cause and other variables.


We care both about your health and your quality of life. If you are unhappy with your appearance because of a birthmark, know that you are in good hands with the team at Riverchase Dermatology. We have great success in minimizing or eliminating problem birthmarks with laser therapy and other treatments so you can look and feel your best.

If you suffer from any of the symptoms described above, including wounds, sores, blisters or other unusual skin discoloration, please contact us immediately.

Locations with this service

38162 Medical Center Ave
Zephyrhills, FL 33540
2625 Executive Park Dr, Suite 7
Weston, FL 33331
Venice Health Park 
1295 Jacaranda Blvd.
Venice, FL 34292
Tampa Palms 
15310 Amberly Dr, Suite 150
Tampa, FL 33647
Sun City Center 
1007 E Del Webb Blvd, Suite 101
Sun City Center, FL 33573
St. Petersburg 
2299 9th Avenue N, Suite 1D
St. Petersburg, FL 33713
Pembroke Pines 
603 N Flamingo Rd, Suite 350
Pembroke Pines, FL 33028
9015 US Highway 301 N
Parrish, FL 34219
North Port – Commons 
14840 Tamiami Trail
North Port, FL 34287
North Port – Bobcat Village 
2481 Bobcat Village Center Rd, Suite 101
North Port, FL 34288
Naples – North 
1015 Crosspointe Dr.
Naples, FL 34110
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261 9th St S
Naples, FL 34102
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1108 Goodlette-Frank Rd. N.
Naples, FL 34102
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9125 Corsea Del Fontana Way, Suite 100
Naples, FL 34109
Formerly Bowes Dermatology
Mercy Professional Building Suite 6008
3659 S Miami Ave, Suite 6008
Miami, FL 33133
Lakewood Ranch 
8340 Lakewood Ranch Blvd, Suite 260
Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202
Fort Myers – West 
9400 Gladiolus Dr, Suite 320
Fort Myers, FL 33908
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7331 Gladiolus Drive
Fort Myers, FL 33908
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3268 Forum Blvd, Suite 201
Fort Myers, FL 33905
19527 Highland Oaks Dr, Suite 201
Estero, FL 33928
406 N Indiana Ave
Englewood, FL 34223
Deerfield Beach 
1880 W Hillsboro Blvd, Suite A
Deerfield Beach, FL 33442
1122 Druid Rd E
Clearwater, FL 33756
Cape Coral – Surfside 
2366 Surfside Blvd, Suite C111
Cape Coral, FL 33991
Cape Coral 
413 Del Prado Blvd S, Suite 101
Cape Coral, FL 33990
Bonita Springs 
25987 S Tamiami Trail, Unit 90
Bonita Springs, FL 34134
Boca Raton – East 
200 Glades Road, Suite 1
Boca Raton, FL 33432
Bay Harbor Islands 
1111 Kane Concourse, Suite 100
Bay Harbor Islands, FL 33154
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