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VMs have many different symptoms, depending on what parts of the body are affected. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Lumps under the skin
  • Lesions [lee-SHUNS], or cuts in the skin that may leak blood or lymph [limf] fluid
  • Infection
Some malformations can also cause additional stress on the heart or other organs. 

When to See a Doctor

If you think your child might have a VM, you should take them to see a doctor so they can begin treatment as soon as possible. 


At this time, the exact cause of VMs is not known, and there is no known prevention for them. It is thought that they are caused when the cells in the vein walls are not formed smoothly, as they would be in a healthy vein.

Diagnosis and Tests

To help diagnose a VM, your child’s doctor will perform a physical examination. and ask about your child’s medical history.

Tests, such as an MRI, may be needed to find out of your child has a deeper VM on one on an organ that cannot be seen or felt during a regular physical exam. An MRI can also help determine if there is a VM on one of your child’s joints.

Your child’s doctor may use an ultrasound or a camera pill to see into your child’s body to diagnose VMs that may be on the inside of your child’s organs or deeper in the body. In some cases, your child’s doctor may ask your child to swallow a pill that has a camera in it, which will be used to record information about the inside of your child’s digestive tract and help determine if there is a VM anywhere in there.

VMs are often confused with other disorders, and can be difficult to diagnose. In some cases, they can be identified at birth but, in other cases, they may not be diagnosed until your child is a teenager or young adult. 


If your child’s doctor finds that your child has a VM, they will send you to see a specialist that has experience specifically treating VMs. A VM can affect several different places in the body, so your child’s specialist will consider the location of your child’s VM in order to figure out the best way to treat it. Some treatment options your child’s specialist may think about include:

  • Observation. In cases where the VM is small, your child’s specialist may choose to observe it and see how it progresses. In these cases, treatment might be more harmful than no treatment.
  • Medicine. Sometimes your child’s doctor will be able to prescribe medicines that help treat your child’s VM.
  • Compression clothing. Your child’s specialist may require your child to wear special compression clothing that squeezes certain parts of the body and helps with circulation.
  • Laser therapy. This type of therapy uses lasers to help reform or correct damaged veins.
  • Sclerotherapy. In this type of therapy, a solution that irritates the malformation is injected in to the deformed vein, causing it to shrink and reform. It can also be combined with surgery if the lesion is very large.
  • Surgery. In some cases, the VM can be removed surgically.
Talk to your child’s specialist about the different treatment options to figure out what will work best for your child. 


At this time, the exact cause of VMs is not known, and there is no known prevention for them. 

What is Venous Malformation?

Venous [VEE-nus] malformation, called VM for short, is a type of vascular [VAS-kyuh-ler] deformation that your child is born with (congenital). A VM is when the network of veins are not correctly formed, and often do not work properly. VMs can slowly get larger over time, causing the malformation to worsen and become painful. They can also grow very quickly during a growth spurt, hormonal changes, or with trauma. VMs can occur anywhere in the body, including on the skin, muscles, or internal organs. They are concerning because they can cause blood clots to grow.