Laser Treatment for Pediatric Vascular Birthmarks

Laser Treatment for Pediatric Vascular Birthmarks is used to remove or minimize a variety of birthmarks that might harm a child’s development or wellbeing as they grow. This treatment is performed by a licensed and experienced physician and is completely safe for children of all ages.

Birthmarks are a common condition that are usually visible from birth. In fact, nearly one in every 10 babies is born with a birthmark. Some birthmarks are caused by irregular pigmentation in the skin, but vascular birthmarks are caused by blood vessels that formed incorrectly in the skin.

Though many vascular birthmarks are not harmful, they may affect the child’s confidence and self-esteem as they grow. You and your doctor may also decide to remove a large or deep vascular birthmark before it can create complications for their health.

How Does Laser Treatment for Pediatric Vascular Birthmarks Work?

During the laser treatment, the dermatologist uses either a pulsed dye laser or vascular laser to send beams of light into the child’s birthmark. As the cells absorb the light, it heats and destroys the malformed blood vessels that cause the birthmark. For darker birthmarks, the treatment can also reduce the amount of melanin in the skin to lighten the area. Though the laser destroys the unwanted blood vessels, it doesn’t harm the surrounding skin.

Conditions It Treats

Common vascular birthmarks that can benefit from laser treatments include:

  • Hemangiomas - These birthmarks form deeper in the skin and typically appear and grow during the first year of a child’s life. Some, known as strawberry hemangiomas, appear as bright red bumps that may break open and bleed. Others appear dark blue or purple. Hemangiomas often begin to shrink after the first year and may disappear within 10 years.
  • Port Wine Stains - Visible at birth, these birthmarks often form on the face and remain throughout the child’s lifetime. These flat marks can be red, purple, or pink and may grow darker, bigger, and thicker over time. Port Wine Stains can break and bleed more easily than other skin tissue, which increases the risk of infection.
  • Macular Stains - These birthmarks are visible at birth, often located on the child’s eyelid or between their eyebrows. Macular Stains may fade within two years after birth.

Who Should Get Laser Treatment for Pediatric Vascular Birthmarks?

Dermatologists typically treat birthmarks that may cause medical or psychological harm as the child ages. To prevent any issues, vascular birthmarks are often treated before the child starts school and often when they are still babies.

What to Expect from Your Laser Treatment for Pediatric Vascular Birthmarks Appointment

First, your child’s dermatologist will examine the birthmarks to determine the best treatment plan. During the laser therapy appointment, your child may experience slight pain, similar to small flicks to the skin. Your doctor may prescribe mild sedation or an anesthetic cream to minimize discomfort. Most laser treatment sessions last between 15 minutes and an hour, depending on the severity and number of birthmarks. If additional treatment is necessary, your dermatologist may schedule additional appointments at four-week intervals.

After treatment, the treated skin may be bruised, swollen, sore, or blistered. Your dermatologist will provide information on pain relief, which will likely include ice packs, medication, and/or ointment. You will also need to protect the treated area from direct sunlight following the procedure.

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