Any mark, spot, or bump that is present in or around the time of birth on the skin of an infant is a birthmark. Birthmarks can be categorized according to their composition. Marks as a result of excessive accumulations of melanin are called pigmented birthmarks, since the great majority of them are brown to black. Other birthmarks appear lighter than the rest of the skin due to a relative lack of melanin. Some birthmarks are composed of blood vessels and are called vascular birthmarks. They are generally red, blue, or purple. Other birthmarks are composed of lymphatic tissue (cystic hygroma), breast tissue, and epidermal tissue, which are often yellow to flesh-colored. Other birthmarks may grow very quickly. Without medical treatment, they can become large, permanent areas of discoloration that may affect deep layers of skin.
New laser treatments have been shown to minimize or completely remove disfiguring birthmarks that could otherwise compromise a child’s appearance and self-esteem for years to come. Laser treatment uses highly focused beams of light to reduce the size and lessen the color of birthmarks. This includes red birthmarks, such as strawberry hemangiomas and port wine stains; brown birthmarks, such as café au lait spots; and nevus. For birthmarks that are brown or blue, the laser is used to target and decrease melanin, the substance responsible for skin pigment.
Laser therapy sessions last between 15 minutes and 1 hour, depending on the size and number of birthmarks to be treated. Several treatment sessions may be required to lighten birthmarks that are large or darker in color. Our dermatologists recommend scheduling treatment sessions at least four weeks apart to allow the skin to heal fully in between sessions.
Special care should be taken from sunlight after laser therapy sessions. We recommend covering the affected area with sunblock that has SPF 30 or higher.