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The First Choice in Treatment for Young Children with Port Wine Birthmarks

Review article compares clinical outcomes between hematoporphyrin monomethyl ether-mediated photodynamic therapy and pulsed dye laser for the treatment of port wine birthmarks.

By Emilee Green | Apr 23, 2024

Wausau, WI (April 23, 2024) – Hematoporphyrin monomethyl ether (HMME)-mediated photodynamic therapy (HMME-PDT) has emerged as the first choice for the treatment of young children with port wine birthmarks (PWB) in many major hospitals in China during the past several decades, which has raised great attention and curiosity among scientific communities and the public. There is a knowledge gap for clinical outcome comparisons between HMME-PDT and pulsed dye laser (PDL). This review article aimed to evaluate whether HMME–PDT is superior to PDL by comparing the clinical efficacies of both modalities.

This review, led by Webin Tan, PhD, is titled, “Current clinical evidence is insufficient to support HMME–PDT as the first choice of treatment for young children with port wine birthmarks.”  The review article, published in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine (LSM), the official journal of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Inc. (ASLMS), was selected as the April 2024 Editor’s Choice.

“During the past decades, hundreds and thousands of young children with port wine stains (PWS) in China have been treated by HMME-PDT,” Tan said. “However, it is very curious for scientists, dermatologists, and parents of PWS children to know whether HMME-PDT renders a better efficacy than pulsed dye laser.”

PubMed records were searched for all relevant studies of PWB treatment using PDL or HMME–PDT. The data showed that PDL shows overall albeit insignificantly higher clearance rates than HMME-PDT in patients of all ages; particularly, statistical significance is nearly achieved in young children (< 3 years old). Collectively, current evidence is insufficient to support HMME–PDT as the first choice of treatment of PWBs in young children given overall inferior efficacy as compared to PDL, the risk of off-target exposure to meningeal vasculature during the procedure, the need for steroids for mitigation of side effects, and lack of long-term data on the potential impact of HMME on central nervous system development in young children.

Wenbin-Tan-croppedDr. Wenbin Tan is a tenured Associate Professor of the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, School of Medicine University of South Carolina, USA. He received his BS in Medicine and MS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Xiangya School of Medicine, Central South University, China, and his PhD in Neurophysiology and Neurobiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA. He joined Dr. J Stuart Nelson's group in the Department of Surgery and the Beckman Laser Institute at the University of California, Irvine in 2010. In 2018, he moved to the School of Medicine University of South Carolina as an Associate Professor. His lab focuses on congenital vascular malformations such as PWS and stem cell biology using disease-derived iPSCs as clinically relevant models.

Editor’s Choice is an exclusive article published in LSM, the official journal of ASLMS. View the complete manuscript.

The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Inc. (ASLMS) is the largest multidisciplinary professional organization dedicated to the development and application of lasers and related technology for health care applications. ASLMS promotes excellence in patient care by advancing biomedical application of lasers and other related technologies worldwide. ASLMS membership includes physicians, surgeons, nurses, and allied health professionals representing multiple specialties, physicists involved in product development, biomedical engineers, biologists, industry representatives and manufacturers. For more information, visit


The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Inc. is the world’s largest scientific organization dedicated to promoting research, education and high standards of clinical care in the field of medical laser applications. It provides a forum for the exchange of scientific information and participation in communicating the latest developments in laser medicine and surgery to clinicians, research investigators, government and regulatory agencies, and the public.

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