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Birthmarks are a type of abnormal vascular lesions and can get progressively darker or larger on the body. With advances in technology, birthmark removal can be achieved through laser surgery and laser pigment removal. While the birthmark may not be entirely removed in some cases, successful treatments can lighten or cause the area to be completely cleared of abnormal coloration.
Birthmark removal is done with a pulsed, Q-switched or CW laser. These laser types all pass light through the surface of the skin in order to break down pigments and lesions. The lasers also help in preventing the spread of the birthmark as well.
A CW, or Continuous Wave, birthmark removal laser can focus the laser's energy in a constant beam over the affected area. A pulsed laser only emits its energy in short, yet rhythmic, bursts. A pulsed laser allows the laser to heat the affected area just enough to get the targeted pigmentation. Continuous Wave lasers can damage surrounding areas because the heat transference may spread throughout the skin. Pulsed lasers typically only give enough heat to affect a very small area and then move on. Q-Switched lasers are a type of pulsed laser that saves up energy in order to provide extremely high dosages in short increments.
The lasers provide a heat which causes swollen vessels to grow old and die, removing their intense coloration. The most dramatic type of birthmark is called a port wine stain, or PWS birthmark. These marks most commonly appear on the face and neck, accounting for about 2/3 of all PWS birthmarks, and are evident at birth. Port wine stains can be found on the body and they can also grow with time.
If a PWS birthmark is not treated at an early stage, it may cause the skin to wrinkle abnormally, as well as leave a largely affected stained area. The birthmarks, when especially severe, may also impede some natural functions like sight or breathing. It is usually best to undergo a birthmark removal in these types of instances.
Another kind of birthmark is the Nevus of Ota. Generally found in Asian populations only, the Nevus of Ota is a non-vascular bluish lesion. Nevus of Ota birthmarks are usually very easily treated with laser treatment.
Early birthmark removal is usually most effective because the marks do not have time to mature and expand. The treatments for early birthmark removals usually do not take as many visits as removals done later in life. All birthmark removals require multiple office visits and several different types of treatments combined.
The key to having a successful birthmark removal is by seeing a board-certified laser surgeon only. These experienced birthmark removal professionals are generally the most technologically advanced practitioners in their fields. Careful and thorough treatments are the best and most effective courses of action in birthmark removal surgery.