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Let’s talk about Birthmarks!
Birthmarks, also known as beauty marks, although mostly harmless, can cause significant cosmetic stress to many people. Good news is, some birthmarks fade over time while some can be improved with aesthetic procedures.
What are Birthmarks?
Birthmarks are a portion of discoloured or raised skin, usually present at birth or appear shortly after birth. There are two main types of birthmarks: Vascular and Pigmented.
1. Vascular Birthmarks
Vascular birthmarks occur due to malformation of blood vessels in the skin. Vascular bidthmarks that we commonly see include as below:
Haemangiomas (Strawberry Nevi)
Haemangioma usually occurs during the first week of life and subsequently enters a proliferative phase and becomes elevated. Superficial haemangiomas appear as bright red fleshy tumors while deeper haemangiomas can appear as a bruise or swelling under the skin. About 90% of haemangiomas undergo involution by the age of 4.
Complete involution is possible, however, in many cases, redundant fibro-fatty tissue and telangiectasias remain. Most haemangioma does not require treatment unless complications arise such as bleeding, ulceration, or large lesion occluding vision or airway.
(Salmon Patches / Angel Kisses / Stork Bites)
This is the most common birthmarks occurring in almost one third of infants. It is harmless and usually disappear during the first year of life. In some cases, those that are located at the nape of neck just below the hairline can be permanent.
Port Wine Stain (Nevus Flammeu)
Port wine stain birthmark looks like someone spilled or splashed dark red wine on the face. Unfortunately, it does not fade over time and tend to grow bigger in proportion. It may become thicker and darker and start to feel like pebbles under the skin.
2. Pigmented Birthmarks
Nevus of Ota and Ito (Ocular Dermal Melanosis)
This Birthmark has a characteristic grey-blue appearance. Nevus of Ota can be found in the conjunctiva and sclera of the eye along with skin on the same side. On the other hand, Nevus of Ito usually presents over the shoulder. Although it is usually harmless, continuous monitoring of the birthmark is required as there is a risk of malignant transformation and glaucoma.
Café Au Lait
This birthmark appears as a flat spot with the color of coffee with milk as the name suggests. Present at birth or in early infancy and tends to be more apparent as it gets darker after sun exposure. If you have a single isolated birthmark, then most likely you have nothing to be worried about.
However, if there are multiple spots, medical consultation is advisable as they can be associated with some systemic diseases such as neurofibromatosis (NF), McCune Albright syndrome, Legius syndrome, and Noonan syndrome with multiple lentigines syndrome.
Fun fact! It is called Mongolian spot as the blue spot is found in almost 95 percent of Mongolians. Characterized by flat bluish spots looking like bruises, they are frequently distributed over the lower back and buttocks. Most Mongolian spots fade completely in 2 years.
How do we treat Birthmarks?
There are several approaches that we use to improve the appearance of the birthmarks. Sometimes combination of treatments are required to increase the success rate of treatment.
This medication reduces inflammation. It can be taken orally or injected directly into birthmarks to shrink vessels and reduce blood flow, therefore reducing the size and improving the appearance of birthmarks.
2. Beta-blockers such as Propanolol & Timolol
These medications can be used to prevent birthmarks such as haemangiomas from growing and shrinking at the same time.
3. Laser therapy
Laser can be used to lighten most birthmarks and the treatment success rate is much higher when started during infancy. Usually, multiple sessions are required. Follow-up with your aesthetic doctor is also important to check the response to laser treatment.
Some birthmarks can be removed surgically, for instance, very deep hemangiomas. This treatment option is less popular due to the risk of leaving scars.
Wish to lighten your birthmarks? Come and consult with us and find out more!