Definition: What is angioma?
An angioma corresponds to an anomaly in the blood vessels or lymph vessels. It is a generic term that groups together several vascular anomalies.
Angiomas can be identified through red marks which appear on the skin. It is estimated that around one out of ten children is affected, girls in particular. Whilst they are often benign, the must be treated as soon as they start leading to complications.
The different types of angioma
We can distinguish between numerous types of angiomas which are divided into two main groups depending on their origin: hemangiomas and vascular malformations. Hemangiomas are benign tumours which often occur at birth, and develop for up to 6 or 12 months before naturally disappearing with age. This is what is commonly called the 'strawberries' on an infant.
On the other hand, vascular malformations are anomalies which do not disappear over time. Among them, we find plane angioma, more commonly known as a birthmark. It is a red mark which generally present from when a baby is born and stays for the rest of their life without changing.
In some cases, plane angioma can be linked to more serious anomalies. This is the case for example in Sturge-Weber syndrome which is where angioma is accompanied by neurological problems such as epilepsy or spasms.
Spider angioma is a small vascular tear in the shape of a star which is usually found on the face or hands. It often appears in people who are suffering from liver failure, such as cirrhosis, or during pregnancy.
Cavernous angioma otherwise known as a brain tumour is a malformation in the brain or the spinal cord. It is rarely diagnosed, unless it causes a brain haemorrhage or spasms.
When the malformation forms in the lymphatic vessel, we call this lymphangioma.
Angiomas are often benign and do not require treatment. However, it can cause either aesthetic or physical (when moving) difficulties. In these cases, it is possible to remove them.
Two techniques can be used which depend on the size and the place of the angioma. Using a laser can whiten the skin and make the marks disappear. This also helps to coagulate the abnormal blood vessels where the angioma was found. Likewise, surgery can completely remove the mark from the skin.