What laser treatment is right for birthmarks?
18 Jul 2012
Most people have some sort of birthmark, ranging from strawberry marks to port-wine stains. Some may be small and insignificant others can have a huge impact on a person's life.
Laser treatment is one of the safe and effective non-surgical treatments available for birthmarks. Previously, extreme and debilitating birthmarks could only be treated through invasive surgical procedures. Now, thanks to laser technology, you can undergo treatment on your lunch break.
What type of laser treatment you undergo depends largely on the type of birthmark you have. Arteriovenous malformation, cafe au lait spot, cavernous haemangioma, nevus flammeus (or port-wine stain) or strawberry haemangioma are just some of the types identified. Birthmarks are largely either caused by vascular deformity (clusters of blood vessels) or a build up of pigmentation. A specialist consultant can tell you which category your birthmark falls in.
For pigmented birthmarks, such as cafe au lait spots, q-switch lasers are very effective. These treatments are the same as the ones used for tattoo removal, and use pulses of light directed at the build up of pigment. This then disperses and is eliminated safely from the body.
In the past, one of the most difficult but very common types of birthmarks to treat was the port-wine stain. However, the development of pulsed-dye lasers has meant these are far more treatable. Pulsed dye laser uses concentrated beams of light that target the blood vessels, converting the light beam into heat and destroying the vessel. This is also used to treat rosacea and similar skin conditions.
Regardless of the type of birthmark and type of laser treatment, you will generally be free to go with few after effects.
You can expect some soreness and redness immediately after, and should use strong sunscreen until this passes. However, this should be minor and not interfere with your daily routine.
You may require several treatments to get the desired results; but in the care of a specialist practitioner, your birthmark can be a distant memory.