Birthmark RemovalA birthmark is a splotch on our skin, which can appear in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. While some birthmarks are small and inconspicuous, others have a more prominent appearance, which can be bothersome to some, and can even lower their self-esteem. In some cases, certain types of birthmarks can become a health risk. Some birthmarks do fade or completely disappear over time, however, there are others that will never fade or go away. Birthmark removal offers a solution to people who are self-conscious about their appearance and even help reduce the possibility of health risks associated with certain moles.
With the increasing popularity of various cosmetic surgery procedures, including birthmark removal, it is important that the prospective patient research and understand different issues like what the procedure can and cannot treat, inherent risks, costs, and other factors. Keep in mind, cosmetic surgery is just that – a surgical procedure whose results cannot simply be erased. While the information contained in this website will provide you with a good introduction to birthmark removal, when considering this or any other cosmetic procedure, we recommend that you consult a qualified provider with significant experience. Some important elements you should understand regarding birthmark removal include the following:
Types of BirthmarksBefore determining how to remove these birthmarks, here is some information on the more common types and how to identify them:
Pigmentation-type birthmarks – These can include various types of birthmarks including moles (congenital nevi), Coffee-cream spots, and Mongolian spots. Mole is a nonspecific term for nevus, which is a pigmented skin spot. While most moles pose no health risks, some large nevi may have cancerous effects later on during one’s life. Coffee-cream spots are caused by too much pigment in the skin. They do not fade away, but do not require treatment. Mongolian spots are flat, slate blue-grey patches commonly found in children. These birthmarks usually disappear when children reach school age.
Macular stains (salmon patches) – These are very thin, light pink, flat patches of discoloration. These are usually found on babies, either on the back of their neck, or on their upper eyelids. Most of the salmon patches on the eyelids disappear during the child’s first year, while most of the ones found on the neck do not.
Vascular malformations – These are caused by abnormal development of blood vessels and are almost always present from birth. Port-wine stains, a very common birthmark, are a type of vascular malformation and can be found anywhere on the body. These can be identified as flat birthmarks that are pink-red at birth and darken to a red-purple color after several years. Port-wine stains do not fade or go away. These birthmarks may be a concern if located on the face above or around the eye because they may be associated with eye and/or brain problems.
Hemangiomas – These are lesions that develop on infants within a couple of weeks after birth. These are caused by many tiny blood vessels that are bunched together and can grow quite rapidly during the child’s first six to nine months. These are the most common tumors found in babies and usually develop around the head and neck. Some hemangioma will grow on internal organs, like the stomach, liver, intestines, or kidneys. This can be identified with discolorations in the skin. Some disappear within a few months after birth, while most take years before they disappear or fade. Please consult with a physician about these conditions.
Common Questions about Birthmark Removal
Who would best represent an Ideal Candidate for Birthmark Removal?People who feel their birthmarks may cause risks to their health constitute as qualified candidates for the procedure, as would those who are bothered by the appearance of birthmarks. Undergoing birthmark removal can help enhance one’s appearance and possibly provide a boost to one’s self-esteem. However, one must remember that cosmetic surgery is meant for improvement, not perfection. It is important to have realistic goals and expectations when considering birthmark removal.
How is Birthmark Removal Performed?There are different ways that a birthmark can be removed, depending upon its type, size, location and other factors.
Laser therapy: Lasers are used to treat birthmarks that are close to the surface of the skin, such as port-wine stains. This method can be performed at any age. During treatment, short bursts of laser light are aimed at the birthmark in order to shrink it or cause it to stop growing. Multiple visits may be necessary to achieve optimal results.
Surgery: This method is used when other non-surgical treatments have not worked. A hemangioma that is large, or found on an internal organ also requires surgery and general anesthesia.
What should be expected after undergoing Birthmark Removal?After undergoing laser therapy, the treated skin becomes dark purple. This should only last about seven to ten days and disappear soon after. However in some cases, it can take six to eight weeks for the purple area to completely disappear.
Following treatment, it is recommended that patients do not scratch the treated area. It is also important to stay out of the sun while healing. When in the sun, patients should use sunscreen. The healing process takes about six weeks after treatment; during that time, the results of the procedure should become more evident.