Reddish or purplish patches of blood vessels that have ruptured underneath the skin—spider veins, port wine stains and broken capillaries, for example—are called vascular lesions. Some venous malformations are congenital, or present at birth. Others develop and become visible sometime between infancy and adulthood. Congenital vascular lesions consist of port-wine stains (birthmarks), salmon patches, hemangeiomas, lymphangiomas and other venous malformations. Acquired vascular lesions occur later in life and include cherry angiomas, spider veins and varicose veins (telangiectasia).
Vascular lesions can be any size, shape or color intensity. When located on the face, neck, head and other body areas that are difficult to conceal, richly colored vascular lesions that dramatically contrast with the skin’s natural tone can cause deep-seated psychological problems such as social anxiety, social phobia and low self-esteem. While some vascular lesions may be small enough to remain inconspicuous or negligible to the person’s overall appearance, others are large and unsightly, sometimes covering most of a person’s face, neck, arms or legs.