Most birthmarks are small and often disappear in a few years. Some, however, are very visible and can even cause health problems, making them candidates for birthmark laser removal. All birthmarks should be evaluated by a doctor to ensure they are not caused by any underlying health issues. Some birthmarks, particularly vascular birthmarks, should be monitored for the first year or two, since they can grow rapidly, interfering with breathing or other normal functions.
The growing use of lasers for cosmetic purposes has provided a means of removing or reducing the appearance of many types of birthmarks. Laser treatment is non-invasive, unlike surgical removal techniques, and can be done quickly and with few side effects. A high-powered laser is used to shrink capillaries that contribute to vascular birthmarks, or to remove the concentrations of pigment that cause pigmented birthmarks.
Who Is a Candidate for Laser Birthmark Removal?
Anyone with a birthmark that presents a health risk, causes physical discomfort, or results in self-consciousness, can be a candidate for laser birthmark removal. Removal of birthmarks in very small children might not be recommended without an immediate medical need. Pigmented birthmarks are less responsive to laser treatment, and might reoccur or even darken.
The best candidates for laser treatment are those with vascular birthmarks, such as port wine stains and hemangiomas, which tend to respond well to this approach.