When Should I Get My Birthmark Removed?

birthmark in the sun

No matter your complexion, most people have at least one birthmark of some kind. Birthmarks are typically present from birth, but a variety of skin markings can occur at any time in life.

There are two main types of birthmarks:

  • Vascular Birthmarks: These result from abnormal or damaged blood vessels.
  • Pigmented Birthmarks: These come from inconsistencies in pigmentation.

Port wine stains are probably the most well known type of vascular birthmark. These distinctive marks, which often appear on the face and hands, arise due to a capillary malformation in the skin. They have a light red, red, dark red, or violet coloration.

Moles and cafe au lait spots are both very common types of pigmented birthmarks.

A mole is a sort of benign neoplasm, a new and abnormal growth. A person can be born with these growths or acquire them over time. Greater risk is associated with congenital moles, but the vast majority are harmless. They do not typically grow or change shape over time.

Cafe au lait spots are flat, pigmented birthmarks. They frequently emerge on the skin of people with fair to light complexions and range in color from brown to black. Most are relatively small and round, but are easily distinguished from the raised profile commonly presented by moles.

There are many other types of birthmarks, with a complete spectrum of shapes, sizes, and colors.

Is Birthmark Removal Right for Me?

Any otherwise healthy adult can have birthmark removal. Before planning a procedure, however, it is sometimes advisable to consult a dermatologist. It may be necessary to perform a biopsy, where a small amount of tissue is excised from the birthmark and examined for signs of disease.

A full examination of a birthmark is advisable if it has recently changed in size, shape, or color. For the most part, no aspect of a benign birthmark should change quickly, but some types are prone to lighten with age. Any significant changes may suggest the presence of cancer.

Most patients decide to go forward with birthmark removal for one of three reasons:

  • The birthmark interferes with normal activity;
  • The birthmark bleeds or displays other distressing symptoms;
  • The birthmark makes the patient feel uncomfortable or self-conscious with his or her appearance.

Laser Birthmark Removal Treatment for Benign Birthmarks

It’s easiest and most effective to remove benign birthmarks with laser birthmark removal. Today’s medical lasers are extremely powerful and precise, allowing unwanted marks on or under the skin to be removed with a minimum of risk. The procedure is quick and discomfort is mild.

Laser birthmark removal is an outpatient procedure that does not require anesthetic and is done in under an hour. There may be mild swelling, tenderness, bruising, and discoloration in the treated area for a few days afterwards. However, all side effects should fade away within a week.

Before your birthmark removal process begins, tell your doctor about any medication or supplements you are using. Some may need to be adjusted or discontinued before treatment. During care, a pulsing, high-energy laser is used to lighten the birthmark. Most patients report only a mild tingling sensation.

Birthmarks of virtually any size can be removed. Some areas of the body, such as the face, may be more sensitive to laser light – for this reason, the laser must be carefully calibrated to patient needs.

If you have a birthmark you wish to remove, it’s essential to get help from an experienced expert. At Hollywood Dermatology & Cosmetic Specialists, we have helped patients just like you to look and feel better by eliminating unwanted birthmarks. To find out more and to see if you’re a good fit for birthmark removal, contact us today to make an appointment.

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