Birthmarks are spots on the skin that typically appear at birth or shortly after. Some are benign and may fade or disappear, but you may want to remove yours for cosmetic or health reasons.
CosmeticSurgery.com lists four common birthmark categories:
- Pigmentation birthmarks include coffee and cream spots, which are light brown. They don't fade but are harmless. Mongolian spots, which are flat and slate blue-grey, may eventually disappear. Congenital nevi, i.e., dark moles, pose a risk of developing skin cancer in adults, according to MayoClinic.com. Therefore your physician may recommend removing a congenital mole.
- Macular stains (a.k.a. salmon patches and stork bites) are pink or reddish patches, typically found above the hairline at the back of the neck, on the eyelids or between the eyes.
- Vascular formations (a.k.a. port-wine stain) are pink-red at birth and later turn red-purple. They don't fade or disappear. The patch may thicken and become pebbled. If located above or around the eye they could be associated with eye and/or brain complications, according to CosmeticSurgery.com. Children with port-wine stains are often teased about them, and as adults may develop a poor self-image, according to research mentioned on CosmeticSurgeryAustralia.com.
- Hemangiomas are pink or red. They can grow rapidly during an infant's first 12 months and can form on internal organs as well as on the skin. MayoClinic.com says fast-growing hemangiomas may require removal, especially if they interfere with the eye, throat, mouth, groin or an internal organ.
CosmeticSurgeryAustralia.com says the key to successful birthmark removal to treat the mark as early as possible, when it's lighter and therefore requires fewer treatments. Early removal also spares a child from feeling self-conscious and being teased.
Topical creams can sometimes be used successfully to fade lighter birthmarks. Surgical options for darker and more complicated birthmarks include laser therapy and surgical excision.
Laser therapy, according to CosmeticSurgery.com, is used on birthmarks that are close to the skin's surface, like port-wine and external hemangiomas. Short bursts of laser light shrink the birthmark it or cause it to stop growing. Multiple visits may be required.
Surgical excision is used on large hemangiomas and hemangiomas found on internal organs, and for birthmarks that haven't responded to non-surgical treatments.
Ask your dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon about which method would be best for you.
To learn more visit CosmeticSurgery.com, MayoClinic.com and CosmeticSurgeryAustralia.com.