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Venous lakes are benign vascular lesions that result from dilated venules. They commonly affect the lips, face, and ears.


Incidence: common

Age: most commonly observed in the elderly

Precipitating factors: may be related to sun exposure


Venous lake presents as dark blue to violaceous, elevated, soft, and easily compressible papule or nodule.


Pyogenic granuloma, melanoma, labial melanotic macule, atypical nevus, hemangioma.


Dilated thin-walled venules in the superficial dermis. Thrombosis may be observed.


Epiluminescence microscopy (ELM) reveals erythematous globules with no pigmentary network. It is helpful in differentiating this vascular lesion from a melanocytic lesion.


They usually persist for years and can bleed after trauma.


Venous lakes are frequently treated for cosmetic purposes. Multiple treatment options exist.

Figure 38.1

(A) Venous like on the lower lip of an elderly man. (B) Marked resolution of the venous lake after multiple treatment sessions with the pulsed dye laser

Figure 38.2

(A) Venous lake on the upper lip. (B) Five-month follow-up demonstrating complete resolution of the venous lake after a single treatment with an 800-nm diode lase, 30-ms pulse duration, at energy settings of 45 J/cm2 (one pulse), and 50 J/cm2 (one pulse)

Figure 38.3

Clinical efficacy of pulsed dye laser for a venous lake with compression of the vessels during treatment versus no compression

      • Pulsed dye laser (585–595 nm, 0.45–1.5 ms, 5–10 mm spot, 7–10 J/cm2, DCD 30–40/20, with and without diascopy). Pulsed dye laser provides inconsistent benefit for venous lakes.

      • Diode laser (800–810 nm, 30 ms, 30–50 J/cm2) can also be a very effective treatment. It is helpful to allow 3 seconds of compression of the lesion with the chill tip prior to the laser pulse. A physical “kickback” is often felt by the laser surgeon at the time of the pulsation. The clinical endpoint is immediate purpura.

      • Long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser and intense pulsed light (IPL) have also been reported to be effective.

  • Sclerotherapy: In one study, intralesional injections with 1% polidocanol have been shown to be effective in clearing two venous lakes after two sessions of sclerotherapy. A scar was noted to occur in one patient.

  • Electrosurgery, surgical excision, cryotherapy are ...

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