What are birthmarks?

There are two basic types of birthmarks. Red or vascular birthmarks are most commonly seen, and are caused by an irregularity in the blood vessels. These include port wine stains and hemangiomas. Pigmented birthmarks, known as nevus (singular) or nevi (plural), are brown in color and are often less pronounced. Many birthmarks fade away before children reach school age, but they may remain and undergo changes over time.



What light-based treatments are most effective for vascular birthmarks?

Systems combining pulsed laser light and a broad band of Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) offer the most effective and long-lasting treatment for vascular birthmarks such as port wine stains and hemangiomas. IPL /Laser systems  selectively close off different size blood vessels at varying depths below the skin's surface, thus causing the birthmark to fade. Physicians are able to treat complex birthmarks with pinpoint accuracy, eliminating the birthmark while sparing healthy tissue from damage.



Can children be treated with lasers and IPL?

Yes, in fact, most effective treatment programs for birthmarks begin in childhood. However, depending on the patient's age and the size and location of the birthmark, the child may have to be anesthetized to remain calm during treatment. Many laser specialists have experience in pediatrics and know how to manage such cases.



How long does a laser or IPL treatment take?

The length of a single treatment depends on the size and characteristics of the birthmark. Using IPL, treatment of a large facial birthmark may take about 30 minutes, with a series of treatments required for the maximum effect.



What is purpura?

Purpura is the temporary purple discoloration, the bruising effect that is sometimes left by the laser or IPL after a treatment of a port wine stain. Purpura usually subsides and disappears in two to four weeks.



What is a treatment with IPL like? Is it painful?

A pulse of Intense Pulsed Light energy may feel like a pinch or a rubber band snapped against the skin. A chilled gel applied to the skin and an optional, topical anesthetic prevent discomfort. Patients must wear protective eyewear to shield their eyes from the therapeutic flashes of light. The entire process is brief and non-invasive.



Are treatments with IPL safe? Are they approved by the government?

IPL systems are FDA-cleared to market for the treatment of a wide range of vascular and pigmented lesions. The system has an excellent safety profile.