Prior to laser treatment birthmarks could not be treated very successfully, but advances in laser technology has revolutionised the treatment of birthmarks. Birthmarks are often referred to medically as naevi as the word Naevus is derived from the ancient Greek for “maternal impression”. Birthmarks fall into 2 main categories either Vascular or Pigmented.
The commonest vascular birthmark is the Port Wine Stain. These are birthmarks which can range from diffuse pinkness through to dark red/purple stains which are often lumpy. Laser treatment can result in a significant improvement by flattening the lumps and lightening the skin.
Some vascular birthmarks such as Strawberry Naevi usually disappear in the first few years of life and as such treatment is avoided unless absolutely necessary.
Pigmented birthmarks involve areas of increased melanin pigment resulting in brown marks on the skin. These may be largely in the surface (epidermal) layer of the skin such as café au lait macules or in the deeper (dermal) layer of the skin such as Naevus of Ota and Naevus of Ito.
The choice of laser for treating birthmarks will depend on whether the birthmark is comprised of blood vessels or a pigmented birthmark and comprised of melanin pigment. To treat vascular birthmarks such as the Port Wine Stain the laser of choice is the Pulse Dye Laser. In treating pigmented birthmarks the choice of optimal laser will depend on the depth of the melanin pigment. In general shorter wavelength (532nm) lasers are used for epidermal birthmarks and longer wavelengths (1064nm) are used for dermal birthmarks. At the Cosmetic and Laser medical centre we have a range of lasers including both short and long wavelength lasers which enables us to tailor treatment to individual requirements.
Vascular and pigmented birthmarks often require multiple treatments and sometimes some cannot be completely removed with any number of treatments.