A birthmark is a mark on the body that is present from birth or in the first few weeks of development. Birthmarks are groups of cells that have not developed in the right way in the womb. They are either red/ purple or brown in colour and can be anywhere on the body. In some cases, the marks fade over time. They are generally not harmful unless they are growing at a fast rate. Yet, they can often highlight other diseases. Many hospitals offer treatment at an early age to children with birthmarks that are visible or may pose a potential problem.
Most common birthmarks are either red (port-wine stains) or brown (congenital melanocytic naevi). Effect of such birthmarks on the confidence of the patients cannot be underestimated.
There is not an exact cause for birthmarks. Vascular birthmarks occur from abnormal blood vessels within the skin and pigmented birthmarks occur from a cluster or pigment cells. Port wine stain birthmarks may appear due to the nerves that control the widening or narrowing of the capillaries not functioning in the correct way. This means the blood is constantly supplied to the skin in that one area, which gives it the permanent red or purple colour.
The need to remove a birthmark will depend on where it is on the body, and how much it affects a person’s life. It is common to want to remove birthmarks that are visible, especially if they are on the face and neck or on areas of the body that are often exposed. Cosmetic birthmark removal is a well-accepted treatment and has been around for decades.
Types of birthmarks
There are 2 main types of birthmarks, vascular birthmarks and pigmented birthmarks. Vascular birthmarks are often caused by abnormal blood vessels in or under the skin. Pigmented birthmarks occur from a cluster of pigment cells.
These can occur in different ways; these are;
Salmon patch- Stork mark
Salmon patches are flat red or pink patches that may appear on a baby’s eyelid, neck or forehead at birth. They are the most common type of vascular birthmark and occur in around half of the babies born. Salmon patches aren’t harmful and may fade after a few months depending on where it is.
Capillary Malformation- Port wine stains
These are flat red or purple marks that affect a very small number of new born babies. Port wine stains often affect one side of the body and often occur on the face, chest and back.
Also known as strawberry marks, these types of birthmarks show as a raised mark on the skin and are often red.
They appear on the body in different ways too; some of them are;
Café au lait spots
These birthmarks are coffee-coloured patches on the skin. Many people, mainly children, often have one or two. Yet, if children have more than six by the time they are five, you should seek advice from your GP.
Mongolian blue spots
Mongolian spots are a blue-grey colour birthmark; they often look like bruises. These types of birthmarks are often present at birth. They’re more common in people who have darker skin and tend to appear on the lower back or buttocks. Mongolian spots may last for a few months or years, but they are completely harmless and often get mistaken for a bruise.
Congenital melanocytic naevi
These are also known as moles. They are often large in size and brown or black in colour. They’re quite common and occur from an overgrowth of pigment cells in the skin. These moles have a low risk of developing into skin cancer. Yet the risk increases the larger the mole is.
Laser treatment for birthmarks
Most Birthmarks are treatable, some birthmarks aren’t harmful and don’t pose a threat to a person’s health. Some birthmarks will fade and not disappear.
Laser treatment is the most common approach for treating both vascular and pigmented birthmarks. The laser creates small pulses of light that are then absorbed by the blood, or pigment. This causes them to heat up to a higher temperature than the area of skin around them. The heating destroys the cells that create the mark and so the discolouration fades. This may take some treatments.
At Everything Skin Clinic, we have many different lasers that can treat a range of different types and colours of birthmarks. The V Beam laser is the most used device, it’s used around the world in hospitals and medical institutions to treat birthmarks. In some cases, medical professionals will use the different wavelengths of other lasers as well as the V Beam. Which is the gold standard for birthmarks.
The laser treatment itself feels hot and a little like an elastic band flicking the skin, this is only for a fraction of a second. Afterwards the area treated may feel a little bit sore and hot for a few hours. In some cases, there may be some bruising and/or redness. This will depend on your skin’s reaction to the treatment. As with all laser treatments when the skin has a tan and is darker than its natural colour it reacts in a different way and laser treatments are not possible to carry out.
The number of treatments will depend on a range of factors. In general, 6-8 treatments will result in fading of the mark. A medical professional will discuss this in much more detail during your consultation.
Why choose Everything Skin Clinic?
At Everything Skin Clinic™, we have a team of highly trained Consultant dermatologists, who have completed specialist training in Dermatology and are on the specialist register of the General Medical Council. All our consultants hold substantive contracts with the best Dermatology centres in leading NHS hospitals. Therefore, you can be certain of the highest quality private care.
We offer a range of treatments and can offer one, or a combination of treatments to achieve the best results. Unlike many other clinics, we can offer diagnosis and treatment all under one roof by expert consultant dermatologist, so you know you’ll be in safe hands.