Question about arm PWS - Vascular Birthmarks Foundation Forum
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  #1  
Old 12-28-2007, 01:01 AM
joshc joshc is offline
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Default Question about arm PWS

I have a really long birthmark on my arm it stretches from my elbow all the way to my fingers. It's only on the top of my arm. I am thinking of either getting a tattoo to cover it up or getting laser surgery. Tattoo would obviously be cheaper but is it safe to get a tattoo over a birthmark of that size? I can post pics if needed.

So is it safe to get a tattoo over a birthmark? Or would it be actually cheaper to get laser surgery?

Thanks
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  #2  
Old 12-28-2007, 11:55 AM
missy missy is offline
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I have always heard that it is NOT safe to tatoo over pws.

Missy
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Old 12-28-2007, 12:51 PM
Sue Sue is offline
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My daughter has a pws on her arm and if I was you I would try laser first.....
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Old 12-28-2007, 07:25 PM
joshc joshc is offline
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well i've been talking to this doctor online and he's saying my insurance should cover the laser. but when i went to the dermatologist few years back he said that insurance wont cover it.. hmm.
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Old 12-28-2007, 08:45 PM
JSchnickel12 JSchnickel12 is offline
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Getting a tattoo over it doesn't seem like a good idea. Seems like a potential for infection or something. If it really bothers you that much that you have it then I suppose get it lasered, otherwise in my opinion who cares. I have PWS that covers most of my left leg and it sucks but thats just life and I'm comfortable enough to not care about it anymore. Do I wish it could dissapear at times? Heck yeah, but it's not going to and I don't have the money or the time to care about going through the process of getting it removed. I hear you have to get that stuff lasered more than once over your life span and it's painful and expensive. But if that's what you want to do I hope it works out and you find coverage for it financially.
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  #6  
Old 12-28-2007, 11:20 PM
missy missy is offline
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This is from an older post, found here
http://www.birthmark.org/board/showthread.php?t=218

Dear VBF Discussion Forum Readers...I am the President and Founder of VBF, Linda Rozell-Shannon. I rarely JUMP INTO a discussion and cast my professional opinion upon a topic, but when the potential outcome can be harmful, I have to intervene. Let me enlighten you on several issues brought up by "rcordiano" regarding Tatooing and Port Wine Stains.

1) This is not new. Tatooing of a port wine stain has been around for years.
2) Tatooing does not "bleed out the capillaries".
3) There has not been a 10 year history of collecting pre and post tatooing treatments to make a solid medical recommendation on the positive use of tatooing.
4) Tatooing consists of a series of repetitive skin punctures that inject color pigment into the upper layers of the skin. The pigment is injected into the skin to a dpeth of about one to two millimeters by an electrical powered tatoo gun. Some bleeding can occur from the skin surface of the puncture sites and it can feel like a sunburn. There are concerns about infection from unclean needles and the transmission of Hepatitis related viruses from the contaminated needles. This is a serious concern when you go to a tatoo parlor. If anyone decides on a tatoo, you need to ask the parlor about their infection control policies, are the needles disposable, is the equipment sterilized after each use. OK, enough about tatoos.
5) We know that there are 4 grades of PWS (Grade I are the earliest lesions and thus have the smallest diameter vessels and grade IV are the most advanced), we know that the higher the grade, the more difficult to treat as the vessels are deep and the lasers do not reach them.
5) We know that a laser typically reaches about the same depth as the tatoo needles, or about 1-2 millimeters...that's all they have in common.
6) A laser is thermal. It selects the red vessels and cooks the blood to a boiling point and thereby evaporates the blood so that the vessel collapses to a more normal size (a port wine stain or any vascular stain has enlarged blood vessels). Some lasers reach deeper than others and new technology is enabling an even "deeper" reach to occur. We'll learn about this new technology at our PWS conference in Irvin, Ca. this October.
7) The Port Wine Stain itself "grows" by a deficiency in the nervous system. Our nervous system regulates the constriction and dialation of our blood vessels. The "sick" area where the stain is has a faulty signal so more blood goes in than go out. There is much debate over whether treating with a laser is a permanent or temporary solution. All agree, however, in that the laser treats the stain, but not the nervous system deficiency. The "dis-ease" is still there. Why some say they can be "cured" is because the new laser and treatments of the more superficial stains (Grade I) seem to have a long, long clearance time. This may be "cure" and in time we will know when there has been a history of 10 or more years of no new recurrence. For now, we will say that "most" people have a port wine stain that will return in time, even after many laser treatments because most stains are Grade II, III or IV.
8) So, let's get back to the tatoo process. You have a red birthmark. You inject flesh color die into the vessel. For a time, you could have a good result. However, I will tell you this as a former art major, matching skin colors is very difficult and in time, when the vessel begins to fill back up with blood, even a tiny bit of "new pink" will change the color of the flesh tone used by the tatoo artist...that's why he is seeing a "salmon" color even if he uses a pale beige skin tone...think of mixing the two colors. Most laser treatments keep the skin clear for up to 2 years. I would suspect the tatoo would look good for one to two years at the most, and that would depend again on the grade of the stain. The higher the grade, the quicker the return of the blood.
9) With most grades of PWS in time, there is a thickening of the skin and a cobbleing can occur with small blueberry type blebs popping up. The tatoo won't stop that, prevent it or even delay it. As a matter of fact, and I say this again as a former art major, your skin will look worse as a bubbling salmon color than as a birthmark color.
10) Tatooing cannot cure a PWS and it cannot make it go away and it does not "bleed out" the capillaries in any way. The bleeding that occurs from a tatoo is normal bleeding from puncturing the skin with a needle. It is not "removing" the PWS. I caution anyone against making such a testimony without a medical doctor who has published on this subject to back up that statement.
11) If someone has a very pale, Grade I, PWS then that PWS would respond very well to pulse dye laser. It could even be virtually gone and that person would need a treatment here and there to keep a "clean" appearance. That same grade of a PWS is the only grade that would look even remotely normal for tatooing (as the skin would be smooth and not cobbled) and therefore MAY be a candidate). But, why would you inject a die into a vessel (ok, so now you have an increase in blood flow and a colored die) when you could have a laser treatment that would constrict the vessel through a thermal process and you would not risk contracting a virus from unclean needles.
12) The woman who had the tatoo on her back tatooed, well, if it is a Grade II, III or IV...you are going to have a mess on your hands as the vessels begin to refill in time and the flesh color mixes with the new blood color and you will have a salmon or orange colored stain on your back.
13) Tatooing can interfere with normal good results from an aggessive pulse dye laser treatment.
14) Remember the skin on the back is different from the skin on the face. Be very careful in taking a statement about what is good for one area as being good for another.
15) Many states have prohibitions agains Cosmetologists from using tatooing and it is not regulated in any states. Be very careful.
16) I am very emphatic that NO ONE advertise on my website to sell a service. This is prohibited by our charitable status. As a result, if anyone soliciting to give free tatooing does not refrain from posting such a note again, they will face legal action.
17) Listen everyone, DO NOT undergo any treatment of a PWS without consulting with one of our birthmark physicians or experts.

Lastly, I have nothing against tatooing. I think it has its place and it makes a statement. What I do forbid, is anyone to post a note about a treatment for a PWS that is not medical, that has not gotten my permission to publish such a statement and that is not licensed or regulated by the medical community, and lastly that solicits providing a service on a charitable website. Even "free" treatments are prohibited without a medical review and my permission.

Sorry to be so tough, but my families affected by a birthmark are my priority.

Consumer....BEWARE!!!
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  #7  
Old 12-29-2007, 08:39 PM
joshc joshc is offline
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Thanks for that response, it covered a lot of questions I had about tattooing.

I'm just wondering now if my insurance will cover to remove my birthmark on my arm.

And JSchnickel12 I know how you feel, I tried so many times to just live with it, but when you can't really wear a shortsleeve shirt, and you go to the beach alot... it's different. =(
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  #8  
Old 02-15-2008, 11:41 AM
alecsmum alecsmum is offline
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Hi - also make sure you get a proper opinion about whether the laser will be effective. In our case, the derm said that the PWS on my son's back, torso and upper arm would respond well to laser, but that the part on his extremities (so from the elbow to the hand) would not.

However don't be discouraged, as my son as a full PWS, ie his whole arm and hand (and back) is red, this is not a partial mark. You may have more luck than us.

Let us know how it goes, am always interested in treatment on the arm/back area. This seems to be less common than the facial type.
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