Birthmarks: the name pretty much says it all - marks on the body that are with us from birth (or near enough). They can vary in colour, shape and size, and can appear pretty much anywhere on the body. While some embrace theirs, others don't feel the same affection. So, how do you remove a birthmark if you've decided that's what you want to do? Let's take a look at the different types of birthmarks, and laser birthmark removal - the non-invasive treatment capable of reducing or removing them.
What are the different types of birthmark?
There are two main types of birthmarks: vascular - which are down do abnormal blood vessels (these include ‘port wine stain’ birthmarks); and pigmented - which are caused by masses of pigment cells. This type of birthmark includes congenital moles.
While the majority of birthmarks are harmless and many people embrace them - think popular celebs like Madonna, Cindy Crawford and Marilyn Monroe to name just a few - for some people they can have a huge impact on their confidence, especially if they are in noticeable parts of the body such as the face or neck.
Is there a non-invasive treatment to remove birthmarks?
The great news is that there is a treatment that safely removes birthmarks - without having to go under the knife.
So, what is this non-invasive birthmark removal treatment? What does it involve, and what are the potential results and side effects? Let’s have a look…
Laser birthmark removal
You might have heard about laser treatments for reducing scars and pores, and for evening out skin tone, but did you know they can also be used to reduce the appearance of birthmarks?
Pulsed dye laser is a popular non-invasive method for treating both children and adults.
Laser treatment works by directing pulses through the skin and into the affected area. The energy from the light heats up and targets the blood vessels that make up the birthmark, combatting and breaking it up. Each session targets the area, making it lighter still each time, until there’s a significant difference. It also works on reducing the raised ‘cobblestone’ effect on birthmarks that often occurs with age.
Laser skin treatment sessions can last from just 15 to 60 minutes depending on the size of the birthmark.
Does laser treatment for birthmark removal hurt?
Laser treatment is more uncomfortable than painful, and many people compare the sensation to being pinged by an elastic band, or as a stinging feeling. Depending on the area you’re treating, your practitioner might offer you anaesthetic or numbing cream.
How many laser treatments are needed?
Before treating the birthmark, the practitioner might want to do a patch test first to make sure you respond well to it. Some people will notice more significant, quicker improvements to their birthmarks after laser treatment than others, so might need fewer sessions, while others will need more treatments in order to really notice a difference. But overall, 3-10 laser treatments are needed, once every few weeks. You should be able to see some improvement after the first session.
What are the side effects of laser birthmark removal?
After laser birthmark treatment, many people experience swelling or bruising, but this should only last a couple of weeks at most. You’ll also find that you’ll become very sensitive to sunlight, so avoiding it where you can is a good idea, and using a high SPF will help ensure the area doesn’t become darker.
Although you can get back to your day as usual (if you don’t have anaesthetic), practitioners suggest that you don’t exercise for the first 24 hours following the treatment. Ice packs are a great way of soothing and cooling the treated area if it feels uncomfortable.
Find out more about the different types of laser skin treatments available for a range of skin concerns in our handy treatment guide.