The Office of Dr. U possesses foremost expertise needed for significant improvement in the appearance of unwanted birthmarks or at best, their complete removal. A certified dermatologist, like Dr. Umar would be able to assess individual presentations and issue an appropriate diagnosis for each case. Following, effective decisions can then be made for choosing the best treatment. Although the use of lasers is usually ideal for precisely targeting specific tissues and cell groups, surgery may be a better choice for some patients.
What Causes Birthmarks?
Birthmarks result when certain types of tissue grows at a rapid rate and proliferates. Examples include:
- blood vessels
- muscle tissue
- fibroblast cells
Although most birthmarks are harmless and only pose cosmetic issues, certain rarer manifestations may indicate more serious medical conditions that should be addressed as early as possible.
Types of Birthmarks
Birthmarks can generally be categorized as being one of three types:
- pigmented: resulting from the clustering of melanocyte cells
- vascular: caused by the proliferation of blood vessels within a given area.
Generally, pigmented birthmarks can be expected to be tan or deeper shades of brown. And vascular birthmarks are often of reddish shades. However these manifestations are also likely to assume other colors as well, such as:
- pale blue
Pigmented birthmarks are caused by melanocytes. These are specialized cells which produce a pigment called melanin in the skin. Normally they are evenly distributed. But sometimes they can group together. Common types include:
1) Cafe Au Lait spots
3) Mongolian spots
Cafe Au Lait Spots
These types of birthmarks are of a light brown shade as the name suggests. They may be already present at birth. Or they can develop during early childhood. Removal of Cafe Au Lait Spots will require the help of a physician since they will not fade over time.
Having one or two of these birthmarks is normal and no cause for concern. However, if four or five are present, this may indicate a genetic condition known as neurofibromatis. This occurs when nerve tissue forms into tumors and contributes to the darkening of the skin.
Scientifically known as congential nevus, Moles often occur as small dark spots or dots on the skin. They may be flat or raised. Their coloration tends to vary, depending on the individual’s skin tone. For example, dark brown moles (close to black) can typically be found in patients with darker skin.
Moles on patients with lighter colored skin can be expected to be a lighter shade of brown.
Birthmarks known as Mongolian spots are flat and bluish in coloration. They tend to be found in individuals of the following backgrounds:
- East Asia
- East Africa
- Native Americans
Mongolian spots are benign and congential (present before or after birth). They may continue to develop into the infant’s first month.
Vascular birthmarks originate from the overgrowth of blood vessels within a concentrated area. Therefore, they tend to be reddish in color. Common types include:
- Stork Bites
- Port Wine Stains
- Strawberry Marks
In medical literature, Stork Bites are formally referred to as nevus flammeus nuchae. Common nicknames have also been coined for this type of birthmark. Examples include: “Angel Kiss” and “Salmon Bite.”
Stork Bites occur in nearly half of all babies born. They tend to be flat, irregular in their shape and pink or tannish in color. Common areas of the body where they may be found include:
- top lip
- back of the neck
Port Wine Stains
Port Wine Stains are also called nevus flammeus. They occur in 0.3% of the population in both males and females As one would imagine a wine stain, this birthmark is usually pink or reddish in hue. As another notable characteristic, the boundaries tend to be irregular.
Port Wine Stains occur due to a deficiency in nerve fibers connected to the blood vessels, causing them to dilate. Within this context, blood tends to pool, resulting in the reddish, stain-like appearance.
For the most part, Port Wine Stains tend to be flat and smooth. But in some cases they may also be ridged or bumpy in texture.
Although they are mostly benign, examination by a dermatologist can help determine if they are indicative of a more serious medical issue.
Strawberry Marks tend to occur most commonly in infants. With this type of birthmark, there is a proliferation of endothelial cells which line the inner walls of the blood vessels. While they are commonly present during the first few weeks following birth, they often disappear on their own by age ten.
Lasers For Treating Birthmarks
The Office of Dr. U offers the following laser systems for getting rid of unwanted birthmarks. These include:
1) Fraxel lasers
Fraxel lasers may be recommended as an excellent form of treatment for pigmented birthmarks. Energy wavelengths will be absorbed by melanocyte cells. These tiny structures will be destroyed by the heat produced, turning into waste tissue that is carried away by the body’s own removal systems.
2) Q-Switched laser
In Q-Switched lasers, the laser beam switches on and off in a rapid fashion to maximize the impact of the energy that is emitted. This will target the melanin pigment itself, causing it to break down in order to be removed by the body’s lymphatic system.
Additionally Q-Switched lasers can also be applied to remove unwanted blood vessels contributing to vascular birthmarks. An example would include the Vbeam laser which uses the 595nm wavelength and micropulse technology to achieve objective through the gentle emission of heat. In addition birthmark removal, Vbeam is also an excellent choice for removing other forms of skin discolorations due to blood vessels or pigmentation such as:
- broken capillaries
- diffuse redness
- dilated facial veins
- age spots
- thin veins appearing on the face
Besides the Vbeam laser, other forms of Q-Switched lasers include:
- Ruby laser
- Alexandrite laser
- Nd:YAG laser
3) Pulsed Dye Lasers
Pulsed Dye lasers work by selectively shutting off blood vessels without disturbing surrounding areas of tissue. Following this process, the unwanted tissue degenerates and is cleared away by the body.
Pulsed Dye technology is ideal for clearing Port Wine Stains and hermangiomas.
About 3-6 procedures are usually needed for pigmented birthmark removal. And usually 8-12 treatments can be expected for the clearance of vascular birthmarks
Using Laser Treatment in Children For Removing Birthmarks
Large conspicuous birthmarks may cause children to feel self conscious, especially if they are noticed and pointed out by their peers. Therefore, procedures to have them removed can have a beneficial effect on a child’s confidence and self esteem.
Although lasers offer a highly effective form of treatment for addressing birthmarks, parents would understably want to know if they are safe enough for children.
Since lasers utilize concentrated light energy, they are highly focused in treating target areas of tissue without incurring the risk of side effects in other parts of the body. To optimize safety for the child, the practitioner would need to use milder settings.
Cost of Birthmark Removal Procedures
The cost of treating birthmarks typically varies according to the nature of each condition. Usually more than one session is needed if laser is used. And on average the total cost of such procedures is about $1000 for the treatment series.
Choosing Laser Versus IPL For Getting Rid of Birthmarks
IPL is often hailed as having many types of benefits for the skin. This is because this form of light therapy uses many different wavelengths. And as a result one might experience the improvement across a variety of different skin issues, including birthmarks.
However, because it uses so many different types of light wavelengths, the results of IPL are not as predictable or focused compared to laser treatments. Therefore it would be difficult to ascertain what type of outcome is possible or the number of treatments needed.
Birthmark Removal For Los Angeles Patients
The Office of Dr. U offers free initial consultations for patients in the greater Los Angeles area who want to get rid of birthmarks. We will assess your condition and discuss the best treatment option for your particular case.
You may fill out our online consultation form at the top of the page. Or you may contact us at 877-337-6424.