A birthmark is a colored mark on or under the skin that has been present since birth or shortly after, usually within the first month. They can occur anywhere on the skin. Birthmarks vary in size and shape, and can be blue, black, tan, brown, pink, red, purple, or white. Some are smooth and some are raised and rough. Moles can be birthmarks.
Almost all birthmarks are painless and harmless. However, to be safe, it’s important to have a doctor check birthmarks, especially if there are rapid changes in appearance.
What are Birthmarks?
Birthmarks are categorized into two main groups: Those that appear as patches of brown skin (pigmented lesions) and those that appear as patches of red skin (vascular lesions). Pigmented birthmarks are made of a cluster of pigment cells which cause color in skin. They can be many different colors, from tan to brown, gray to black, or even blue. Two types of vascular birthmarks are hemangiomas and port-wine stains. They are caused by the presence of abnormal blood vessels that are bunched together and do not grow normally.
Treating Pigmented Birthmarks (Excessive Melanin)
Utah Valley Dermatology has developed unique, holistic approaches to target birthmarks. Through precise shave birthmark removal treatment, the birthmark can be removed safely and effectively.
Laser energy can also be used, changing the molecular structure of melanin. Consequently, the melanin is no longer recognized by the body and the immune system breaks down and dissolves it within 3-4 weeks. Depending on the extent of melanin in the birthmark, 3-7 treatments are typically required in order to remove all the excess and bring skin back to its normal color. Remarkably, the birthmark removal treatment is so precise that only low levels of energy are required, making it virtually pain-free.
A customized, specially formulated cream may be used in conjunction with laser treatments to assist in suppressing melanin-producing cells in your skin (melanocytes) from regenerating unwanted pigmentation.
Causes of Birthmarks
Birthmarks appear because of an overgrowth of blood vessels, melanocytes, smooth muscle, fat, fibroblasts, or keratinocytes. No one knows what causes many types of birthmarks, but some run in families. Most birthmarks are not serious and some go away on their own. A dermatologist will look at the birthmark to see if it needs any treatment or if it should be watched. Pigmented birthmarks are not usually treated, except for moles. Treatment for vascular birthmarks includes laser surgery. Birthmarks rarely cause problems, other than cosmetic changes. Permanent birthmarks are usually not treated unless they cause unwanted symptoms, or until a child is at least school age. Some indications for treating red birthmarks are disfiguring appearance, psychological distress, pain, bleeding, a rapid increase in size, and at-risk locations such as the eye, where it may obstruct vision, or near other vital structures. Treatment can sometimes be painful and does not always work. Unless the birthmark is causing problems with sight, feeding, hearing, or breathing, parents need to weigh the potential problems with the expected benefits for the child. It is important to understand that not all birthmarks can be treated. In many cases, the doctor may be able to make a fairly accurate prediction of how the child’s birthmark will progress. Treatment options depend on several factors, including the location and severity of the birthmark.
If you have questions concerning Birthmark Removal, call our office and schedule an appointment to meet with Dr. Myers. At your visit, Dr. Myers will work with you to develop an individualized treatment plan for your condition.
Vascular Birthmark Removal and treatment
With excellent precision, laser energy targets hemoglobin in the blood that fills the birthmark. The hemoglobin absorbs the laser’s energy, instantly vaporizing the blood. This causes the abnormal micro-capillaries to collapse. Often, the color of the birthmark changes to a darker shade of brown, which indicates that the treatment is proceeding successfully. Over the course of a few weeks, the body dissolves the fragments of the destroyed vessels. Depending on the structure, depth, and complexity of the birthmark, 3-7 removal treatments are typically required to remove all the birthmark layers resulting in beautiful, birthmark-free skin.
Because abnormal blood vessels making up a hemangioma occupy space in the deeper layers of the skin (dermis), small indentations may appear where the abnormal veins once were. These small indentations, or pockmarks, are caused by space left unfilled when the vessels collapse. This is typical of thicker hemangiomas that have a multi-layered and complex tangle of abnormal blood vessels penetrating deeper into the collagen structure of the dermis. Once the hemangioma has been removed, our collagen regeneration procedures can be used to heal damaged collagen left by the hemangioma, restoring a smooth texture to the skin.
Dr. David Myers
Dr. David Myers is a board certified dermatologist and Fellow of the American Society for Mohs Surgery. His expertise and attention to detail make him a trusted doctor in his community.