We usually think of a birthmark as a small, harmless marking in some obscure place on the body, usually out of plain sight. However, more often than we realize, birthmarks can be large, unsightly spots on the skin or even on the face. They can be embarrassing, cosmetically displeasing, and possibly disfiguring. There are many types, shapes, colors, textures, and sizes of birthmarks, but most of them can be removed or reduced in appearance through birthmark removal with laser skin treatment.
Types of Birthmarks
Birthmarks are caused in one of two ways: through a pigmentation defect or a vascular defect. Pigmented markings develop through an overabundance of melanocyte cells, fibroblasts, or smooth muscle tissue. These manifest in a colored marking, ranging anywhere from tan to dark brown or black, and can be raised or flat in texture, large or small. This classification popularly includes:
- -Café au lait spots
- -Mongolian spots (these are dark blue, like a bruise)
Vascular markings occur because of a malfunction among certain blood vessels. These are usually red or pink in color, are generally flat in texture, and can be large or small. These typically include:
- -Port wine stain (can be extremely large)
- -Strawberry mark (the only vascular marking that is raised—classified as a benign tumor)
- -Stork bite/angle’s kiss
Laser Skin Treatment for Birthmark Removal
Different lasers are effective for specific causes. Thus, the laser technology that treats pigmented markings versus vascular markings varies. For pigmented birthmark removal, a physician would need to use a wavelength of light energy that targets melanocyte cells and breaks them apart, thus relieving the colored blemish on the surface. The Q-Switch laser does just that. Different types of Q-Switch lasers include the ruby laser, the alexandrite laser, and the Nd: YAG laser.
For vascular birthmark removal, a laser skin treatment that targets the blood vessels and can correct their outward appearance is what is needed. A physician has two options in this instance: a pulsed dye laser system or the V-Beam perfecta laser. The former shuts down specific blood vessels, causing the blood vessel walls to close in and become absorbed by the body. The latter employs micro-pulse technology to warm up the blood vessels, thereby reducing their appearance on the surface.