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Laser Birthmark Removal: Pros and Cons
- What is laser birthmark removal
- Four types of birthmarks
- Pros and cons as listed from different credible sources
Anyone born with an unsightly birthmark will attest to the embarrassment it can cause. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors and can appear anywhere on the body. There is hope with the new technology of laser to remove birthmarks.. Typically, the laser passes light through the skin and is absorbed by the vessels. The heating up process causes the vessels to shrink. However, laser removal is not the answer for all birthmarks. So what are the types of birthmarks and the pros and cons of laser birthmark removal?
There are four classifications of birthmarks:
1. Strawberry Birthmark
Develop on infants within a few weeks after birth where tiny blood vessels bunch together and grow rapidly. They are identified through discolorations of the skin and may disappear in a few months but most take years to fade or disappear. The strawberry birthmark is the most common among infants and you should consult with your physician before making any removal decisions.
2. Salmon Patches
These are thin, light pink or salmon colored patches. Usually appear on babies, most commonly on the upper eyelids, which can disappear within the first year. Salmon patches on the back of the next may not disappear.
3. Pigmentation Type
Include various types of birthmarks most coffee-cream spots are not severe and don’t require treatment or removal. Mongolian spots are blue to gray flat patches usually found on children and typically fade within the five years. Moles usually pose no health risk; however they may be a sign of melanoma or skin cancer if they change in size or color.
4. Vascular Malformations
A very common birthmark is the port-wine stain. Can be found anywhere on the body and does not fade away. These are the most common candidates for laser birthmark removal and may require several treatments.
The benefits of laser birthmark removal:
1. Virtually Painless
Laser birthmark removal is nearly painless and usually requires no anesthetic. Only a slight tingling sensation may be felt. Some have described it as the feeling of a rubber band snapping on the skin. Very sensitive patients can request a topical anesthetic.
2. No Hospital required
The procedure to remove birthmarks is usually done at an in-office appointment or in a doctor’s surgical suite, depending on the intensity of the treatment required. No hospital or over night stay is required. You can work your treatment around your busy schedule.
3. Fast recuperation time
There is a very short healing time after you remove birthmarks. In some cases, some bruising or tenderness may occur, but usually fades within a week.
4. Improved appearance
Removal of a birthmark increases self-esteem and self-confidence. This is the best benefit when you remove birthmarks. Studies have shown that an improved feeling of self-worth has the additional overall health healing.
5. No age limitation
There doesn’t seem to be any age limitation. Due to changes in the skin, counseling with a physician is recommended for children under 5.
The risk factors of laser birthmark removal:
1. Skin tone
Uneven skin tone, excessively light or dark areas of skin may occur. There is some risk of patches forming, darker areas surrounded by lighter areas of treated area. Most of these cosmetic risks are corrected by additional laser treatments.
2. Bruises, Scabbing, Scarring
The risk to laser birthmark removal is minimal but in rare cases, some bleeding, scabbing and bruising can occur. Some people have reported scarring of the treated area. The patient will be advised not to take aspirin, Advil® and Vitamin E to keep the potential of bruising down.
Laser treatment is not always successful at removing a birthmark. The pigmentation may be too deep for a laser to penetrate resulting in the darker pigmentation of the birthmark to again rise to the surface and darken further or reappear. In most cases, additional laser treatments can be effective in reducing the pigmentation as the darker pigment raises closer to the skin’s surface.
4. Birthmark removal cost
Laser birthmark removal is considered cosmetic surgery. Insurance usually does not cover it. Check with your insurance provider and work with your physician to so see what the dollar cost will be for you. Average cost varies, but seems to be around $400-$500 per session.
5. 1-12 Treatments
The number of laser treatments to remove birthmarks depends on the severity of the birthmark and how deep it is within the epidermis. Typically set the expectation for pigmented birthmarks (cafe-au-lait etc.) for 3-6 treatments and vascular birthmarks (port wine stains) may take 8-12 treatments. This adds to the above negative factor of the birthmark removal cost.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Pigmented Skin10 Nov 2009|