Most birthmarks are made of blood vessels bunched together in the skin. They can be flat or raised and pink, red, or blue in color. Ten out of 100 hundred babies have vascular birthmarks. Their cause is unknown. Some will go away on their own, whereas others need to be treated. There are several different types of vascular birthmarks, such as hemangiomas and port-wine stains (also known as a nevus flammeus).
The prescribed treatment will depend on the type of birthmark and in many cases, a combination of lasers are used. Several laser sessions are generally needed for successful treatment with the number of sessions depending on how dark and thick the birthmark is. Fortunately, these types of lesions are typically neither dangerous nor malignant. However, if a hemangioma is close to the eye, glaucoma (high pressure of the eyeball) may occur in very rare cases, and consultation with an ophthalmologist may be necessary. Some vascular birthmarks are small, requiring only a few laser pulses, while others are very large, requiring hundreds to thousands of laser pulses. For these larger ones, we will sometimes treat them under general anesthetic. In a large number of cases (particularly those on the face), treatment of these lesions at the Groot DermaSurgery Centre is completely covered by Alberta Health.
**Actual patients. Individual results may vary.
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