The Vascular Birthmarks Foundation

Dr. Linda Rozell-Shannon, PhD President and Founder

This Story of Hope highlights VBF’s very own “Ask the Laser Expert,” Dr. J. Stuart Nelson of the Beckman Laser Institute in Irvine, California. Dr. Nelson has been the West Coast Medical Director for the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation since 2005.  

Dr. Nelson is a port wine stain laser expert and the inventor of an incredible device that has enabled physicians all over the world to safely and effectively treat port wine stains with minimal pain. His invention, the “Dynamic Cooling Device” (DCD), cools the skin so that pain is minimized during laser treatments for patients with a vascular birthmark.

Our story begins with the Samz family – one of the thousands of families affected by a vascular birthmark that Dr. Nelson has helped.

In 2011, Jackson Samz was born with a large port wine stain on the left side of his face. Initially, the hospital informed his mother, Julia, that the discoloration was bruising from the birth. When the bruising didn’t fade, a pediatrician diagnosed the port wine stain and recommended that Jackson receive laser treatments.

The family was first referred to a doctor who performed laser treatments at a university near their home. In the meantime, they also heard about Dr. Stuart Nelson and the Beckman Laser Institute. From the very first treatment with Dr. Nelson, the family felt they had found a kind and attentive doctor who was the right fit for them.

“You can tell that he truly enjoys his work and the children,” said Mrs. Samz.  “Not only does he have a confident and humorous bedside manner, but more importantly he understands the lasers inside and out. Between Dr. Nelson’s extensive knowledge and the most up-to-date technologies that are used at Beckman, I always feel that the journey there is well worth it.”

Mrs. Samz also noted that Dr. Nelson’s staff made the entire process as seamless as possible.

As you can see from the photos, Jackson’s port wine stain has had a great response to Dr. Nelson’s laser treatments over the past six years.

When asked about his experience treating Jackson, Dr. Nelson said “It is wonderful to work with families who are truly appreciative of the work that we do at the Beckman Laser Institute. I am very pleased with Jackson’s progress to date and am cautiously optimistic that with each successive treatment his port wine stain will continue to fade.”

Julia Samz summed up her experience when she stated, “No one is alone in this journey … we are all in this together.  I feel very fortunate that we have met so many amazing people along the way and that Dr. Nelson is my son’s laser surgeon.”

The Samz family hosted a “Bowling for Birthmarks” event in 2017 to raise awareness about vascular birthmarks and funds that to support the  VBF Conference in California.  Visit VBF’s Day of Awareness page for more information and to see how you can help.

You can email Dr. Nelson at