A birthmark is a spot on the skin that is either present at birth or appears shortly after that. There are two main types: pigmented and red birthmarks. Pigmented birthmarks are dark and include moles and café-au-lait spots. Red birthmarks involve the blood vessels, owing their color to blood. Port-wine stains and hemangiomas are examples of red birthmarks.
What are hemangiomas and port-wine stains?
A hemangioma is a small vascular tumor that is generally both harmless and painless. The strawberry hemangioma is also called a strawberry mark or hemangioma simplex. It can appear anywhere on the body, but is most common on the face, scalp, back or chest. A strawberry hemangioma is made up of small blood vessels packed together that grow rapidly at first and then stabilize at a fixed size until disappearing, usually before the child is ten years old. It may leave behind slightly puckered or discolored skin.
Port-wine stains are the red birthmarks most likely to need treatment since they don’t fade away as the child gets older. They are permanent, likely to appear on the face. Port-wine stains vary in size and are flat birthmarks composed of dilated capillaries, taking on a red or purple hue.
Do red birthmarks need treatment?
Most red birthmarks are harmless. They should be treated, however, if they large, disfiguring, or near the eye. They should also be removed if they make the child self-conscious.
What is IPL therapy?
IPL therapy is a kind of laser therapy used to treat abnormally red skin, like that seen in rosacea or red birthmarks. The acronym stands for Intense Pulsed Light. Unlike conventional lasers, IPL uses several different wavelengths of light, not just one. A machine sends light energy into the target cells and heats them up and thus damages the cells. An advantage of IPL therapy is that it can be used to treat the lower layers of the skin without affecting or damaging the upper layers.
What does IPL therapy involve?
The patient will have to stay out of the sun for several weeks before and after the treatment. During the treatment, a topical anesthetic may be applied to the treatment site. Then, a cool gel is added to the site, and protective eyewear is provided to the patient. The glass surface of the IPL machine’s treatment makes contact with the skin to deliver pulses of light to the birthmark.
A treatment session typically takes 20 minutes, and the patient can immediately leave and go about their business afterward. The patient will usually need 4 or more sessions every 3 to 6 weeks to get the desired results.
Are there any side effects?
The patient may experience the symptoms of a mild sunburn-like redness and peel for a few days after the treatment. Blisters occur in a few rare cases.
At Metro Dermatology, we are dedicated to helping clients with their cosmetic needs. If you are interested in IPL therapy, contact us to schedule a consultation. We would be happy to discuss your goals, provide in-depth information regarding the procedure, and tailor a treatment plan right for you. Contact us today to get started.