Birthmarks are marks or blotches on the skin when a baby is born. They can be flat or raised, have regular or irregular borders, and be different shades of coloring, such as brown, tan, black, or even pale blue, pink, red or purple.
Do birthmarks fade?
While birthmarks are often harmless and fade or shrink on their own over time, some can be disfiguring and even potentially impairing.
Hemangiomas are a vascular type of birthmark that can appear either on or deep beneath the skin’s surface. Surface hemangiomas appear as bright red marks that look like a strawberry, while those under the surface may appear blue, as they involve blood vessels in the deeper layers of the skin.
Do hemangiomas go away?
In many cases, small hemangiomas naturally shrink and disappear by the time a child is between 5 and 9 years old. But larger ones may still leave a scar, even as they start to go away. Others, particularly those that appear on a baby’s face or neck, may be large enough to interfere with a child’s vision or block the nose or mouth. In these cases, treatment is necessary early on in order to remove the birthmark and minimize any long-term appearance issues.
At Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, our team of pediatric plastic surgeons offers treatment options for removing birthmarks on kids.
We have conducted several long-term birthmark treatment studies* involving the use of lasers to help reduce the size of capillary hemangiomas, which are noncancerous tumors that have an abnormal growth of tiny blood vessels inside and typically appear within the first six months of a child’s life. For years, surgeons successfully used an external laser light applied to the surface of the birthmark to help directly shrink the blood vessels that were supplying blood to the area. But it is not as effective on birthmarks when the tumor is deeper under a child’s skin. Our team uses a form of fiber-optic technology to get the laser energy to deeper levels of the skin. We have been able to consistently shrink the diameter and thickness of the birthmarks, and there have been very few post-treatment complications.
In particularly severe cases, for which laser treatment has either not worked or is not a practical option, a child will undergo surgery to remove either the birthmark or scars that may result from it. Scar revision procedures or autologous fat transfer techniques, which involve the removal of fat tissue from other parts of the body to the birthmark site, can also be performed to repair the area to improve the appearance.