Venous Malformations (VMs)

Toddler at the doc with his mom

Venous Malformations (VMs)

About Venous Malformations

Venous malformations (VeMs) are the most common type of vascular malformation and can be simple and superficial or complex and deep in the body's muscles, bones, or organs. The bluish-colored lesions are a collection of enlarged veins that can grow over time. When blood has trouble flowing normally in a venous malformation, blood clots can form in the malformation and cause swelling and pain. Sometimes venous malformations can be combined with lymphatic malformations or seen in genetic-related mutation disorders such as Klippel-Traunanay Syndrome. There are several subtypes of VeMs, and genetically, they fall into two categories: sporadic and inherited. 

Sporadic venous malformations include:

  • Isolated venous malformations — clusters of abnormal venous vessels. Often, VeM occurs in the neck and face, but it can be anywhere in the body, including the lower half of the body, arm, or torso.
  • Verrucous venous malformations — a rare vascular anomaly that can cause a deep purple skin stain and develop into a bigger, bloodier, and more painful area. Most often affecting the lower limb.
  • Blue rubber bleb nevus syndrome — a rare congenital condition where venous malformations appear on the intestines and can cause internal bleeding.

Inherited venous malformations include:

  • Mucocutaneous venous malformation (VMCM) — an inherited vascular malformation that appears as small, bluish-purple venous lesions.  
  • Glomuvenous malformation — a type of vascular malformation involving the glomus cells which is formed by an abnormal growth of veins, which can be painful.


Symptoms can vary depending on where it is on the body and the condition that may be associated with it. Breathing or speaking problems can develop if they are located near the mouth, and in other places, painful swelling can develop. 


Columbia doctors can diagnose venous malformations in several ways, including:

  • Examination to assess signs and symptoms.
  • Ultrasound to evaluate the tissue and blood flow of the lesion.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to help confirm the diagnosis and evaluate the extent.
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) scans to assess.
  • Blood tests to check for blood and clotting abnormalities.
  • Biopsy to confirm diagnosis.

Treatments We Offer 

Some venous malformations just need to be seen or treated with either minor or intermittent interventions such as compression garments or anti-clotting medications. Others need more aggressive treatment, especially if there is severe pain, bleeding, deformity, or compression of vital organs or other structures. There are a wide range of advanced treatment options, either alone or combined that Columbia doctors can perform, such as:

  • Medications — to control abnormal cell growth. Anticoagulants or blood thinners are also part of treatment. The medications can used on its own or in combination with other treatments.
  • Sclerotherapy — medication is injected into the abnormal vein, which causes it to shrink and collapse gradually.  
  • Embolization — to block off the spot where the VeM connects to the other circulating veins. This technique can be performed in combination with sclerotherapy or surgery.
  • Surgery — to remove the abnormal veins and surrounding tissue lesions.  

Why Choose Columbia?

VeMs are not curable, but our team at Columbia will work together to discuss which treatments are the least invasive and most effective for your child. It is important to keep in mind that treatment is helpful in the long term to control the growth and the symptoms.