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Many of us are born with a mole, a small dark patch, or other birthmark. These small imperfections or “beauty marks” can make us unique. However, a large distinctive birthmark can become a source of insecurity–especially for kids.
Port-wine stains are fairly common red or purple colored birthmarks that most often appear on the face, neck, arms, legs and scalp. If the stain is prominent it might cause low self-esteem issues or confidence problems. Parents whose children have port-wine stains often face a conundrum: is it worth it–and safe–to treat this visible discoloration?
Comprised of tiny blood vessels, these birthmarks can become darker in color over time. In some cases the port-wine stain can become lumpy or thick. Although previous treatment methods such as skin grafts were painful and could cause scarring, an advanced Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL) treatment is an effective solution for people suffering from port-wine stains, even children.
The Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL) works by specifically targeting the hemoglobin inside the blood vessels that create the birthmark. The laser eliminates the stain from inside by heating up blood vessels, which damages and removes them. Usually multiple treatments are necessary with approximately 6 to 16 treatments needed for successful results. The treatments are normally spaced out about 2 months apart. Depending on the location of the port-wine stain– some locations on the body are more difficult to remove–PDL can significantly reduce this type of birthmark. After a PDL session the skin may look darker or bruised but this typically lasts only 7 to 14 days.
Although PDL treatment can cause some discomfort, it is considered completely safe for children. Since it can be a bit painful, a topical anesthetic is usually used before treatment. However, in many cases no anesthetic is needed as babies often tolerate the PDL treatment well. In addition, the laser has a cryogen spray that helps cool the area being treated. Due to the innovative design of the laser the spray touches the skin a split second before the laser in order to reduce discomfort during treatment.
The laser can be used on patients as young as a few days old. Studies have shown that 90% stain clearing can be reached if treatment is begun during infancy. In fact, it is often recommended that treatment begin when the child is an infant in order to achieve best results before the time the child is of school age. Although PDL treatment is effective in adults, early intervention often yields better stain elimination. Furthermore, by completing the treatment before the child is five or six years old the child may avoid managing potential social stigmas and self esteem issues.
Advanced Dermatology is pleased to offer patients with port-wine stains a safe and effective solution. This is especially the case for infants or children with port-wine stains; a PDL treatment is safe and secure for kids as well. With office locations in both New York and New Jersey, Advanced Dermatology’s highly skilled dermatologists can provide expert treatment to patients at the office most convenient to them. Contact the office closest to you for more information on treatment options for port-wine stains.