Birthmarks: Is Plastic Surgery Worth It?

Birthmarks are blemishes on the skin that affect around 10% of people. These types of skin lesions are benign and will very rarely turn into malignant growths. Birth marks may be removed through surgery, but there are also a few risks involved, which need to be recognized by the patient.

Understanding Birthmarks

Birthmarks are skin lesions which can vary in color, but are typically red or brown. The size and shape may also vary. Typically, the birth marks are raised. However, the birth marks are not painful, itchy and won’t pose a health risk. In rare cases, if the birth marks are scratched and continuously touched, these can grow and may turn malignant.

The birth marks occur at birth and may become more noticeable after the baby grows. The birth marks can be located on the face or on other areas of the body. Typically, the facial birth marks are considered unaesthetic and many patients will want to get rid of these birth marks.

Birth Mark Surgery

Birth marks can be removed through a simple plastic surgery, known as a surgical excision. The surgery is performed by plastic surgeons or dermatologists. The birthmark removal procedure is performed under general anesthesia and may take anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the size of the lesion and complexity of the procedure.

The downtime after the procedure is up to 1 week. The surgery can completely remove the birthmark and will replace the skin with a new graft, taken either from the patient or form a donor. There may be scars remaining after the surgery.

Other Procedures to Remove Birthmarks

Birthmarks may also be removed with laser surgery or non invasive procedures that treat the surface of the skin. The laser beams are suitable to remove blemishes and other skin lesions, such as birthmarks, however, not all types of birthmarks can be removed with laser procedures.

Birthmark Removal Risks

Both the surgery and the laser procedures have risks. The surgery requires anesthesia, and this is risky. Also, the surgery may not always be successful. The skin graft may not be accepted by the body and the tissues will die and will have to be removed.

Is Plastic Surgery Worth It?

The patient should establish if the plastic surgery is a viable solution for the birthmark removal. The patient should consider the surgery risks and whether there are procedures that are less dangerous (i.e. laser treatment).

It is important that the patient knows that there will be scars where the birthmark was located and these scars will be permanent. In certain patients, the procedure may be worth it, as the scars will be smaller and less visible than the actual birth mark. However, in other patients the surgery won’t be worth it, as the complications after the surgery will be greater than the actual birthmarks.

The patient should discuss in detail with a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon and see if the surgery is the best option.