All About Birthmarks and How to Remove Them… If You Want To

Posted March 02, 2022
Learn about birthmark removal

Birthmarks are extremely common, with some estimates claiming that roughly 10 percent of newborns are born with some form of birthmark on their body. Birthmarks are defined as abnormalities of the skin, typically presenting themselves as a permanent brown or red mark on the body at birth. They vary in shape, size, and placement, and sometimes even go away on their own within a few months. Others, however, stick around and become a permanent fixture on someone’s body.

When it comes to birthmarks, everyone has their own unique relationship with the one they have, and whether or not it’s something to be removed is up to each individual person. For many people, their birthmark is something they are proud of, and they learn to embrace it as a feature on their body that is completely unique to them. Others may not look at their birthmark as fondly, and it may be the source of insecurity and embarrassment.

There is no right or wrong way to view a birthmark on your body, and if it’s something you love, it’s important to not let anyone deter you from that. However, if you happen to have a birthmark that you’re unhappy with that causes you distress, you’ll be pleased to know that there are several options available to treat them. In this article, we’ll discuss the two main types of birthmarks and explore the various ways to treat them today.

Vascular Birthmarks

There are two different types of birthmarks: vascular and pigmented. Vascular birthmarks are made up of blood vessels that didn’t form correctly, and are usually red in color. They vary in size and shape and are typically present on the body at birth, although sometimes they show up soon thereafter. While they may look alarming, particularly when they’re on the face, studies show that 90\\% of these birthmarks will go away on their own.

Pigmented Birthmarks

Pigmented birthmarks occur when there’s an overgrowth of the cells responsible for creating color in the skin. Unlike vascular birthmarks, which consistently present themselves as a red cluster, pigmented birthmarks vary greatly in appearance. They can be either brown or tan in color, or sometimes even a bluish-gray. They also vary in shape and size and can either lie flat on the skin, or be raised, like a mole.

Birthmark Removal Treatment Options

There are three options available when it comes to diminishing/removing birthmarks, and which option you are best suited for will be determined by your doctor upon evaluation. They will take into consideration the type of birthmark you have, as well as other factors such as the size and placement.

  • Medication - One of the best ways to treat vascular birthmarks in particular is by taking blood pressure medication, specifically propranolol or other beta-blockers. They work by shrinking the blood vessels, and studies have shown that the birth mark can start to soften within 24 hours. While there are instances where the medication will make the birthmark go away completely, the goal is usually to minimize the appearance so that it’s no longer bothersome. This treatment is likely covered by your insurance.
  • Laser - Laser treatment is also a viable option, particularly when medication doesn’t work. It’s typically only guaranteed to considerably shrink the birthmark, though there are instances where they get rid of it completely. It can be a fairly painful process, and it requires multiple sessions. Price for this treatment typically ranges from $1,000-$3,000 per session.
  • Surgical Incision - Also referred to as shaving, this treatment involves a surgeon using a scalpel to physically remove the birthmark. It’s most effective on pigmented birthmarks, and while it’s the most invasive of the three options, it’s also considered the most effective. Cost of this treatment is generally around $500. 

Risks Involved with Birthmark Removal

The risks with all of these treatments are fairly minimal, though it’s important to discuss them with your provider should you choose to undergo treatment. It’s also important to note that while most birthmarks themselves are completely harmless, there are instances in which having them removed is medically necessary, particularly in cases of certain types of pigmented birthmarks that can occasionally lead to cancer. Whether or not you want to have a birthmark removed, it’s recommended to have it evaluated by a doctor at least once to make sure it’s not anything that could lead to complications in the future.

Where To Go From Here

If you have a birthmark that you no longer wish to have, or if you have a child with one that you would like to have treated, speak with your dermatologist about the possibility of having it removed and see which of the above treatments you’re best suited for.

- BJ


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