Removing Birth Marks

If my child has a birthmark, when is the best time to take it off?

Our Daddy MD Guide’s reply: This depends on the birthmark and the child as well. Many birthmarks start out larger and decrease in size over time. This goes for “hemangiomas,” blood vessels that appear in the first year of life and diminish after this. Laser treatment, while very modestly helpful, won’t ever approach the results of just letting nature take its course with these.

That doesn’t mean that there are some instances where laser isn’t appropriate, but generally speaking, hemangioma birthmarks will disappear with time, making heroic measures unnecessary.

On the other hand, Port Wine Stain, a type of flat reddish birthmark, will not change with time and needs to be evaluated by a dermatologist if removal or lasering is in the picture. Generally, this is removed when the child is old enough to vocalize desire to remove it and stay still during any treatments (unless the child is anesthetized).

Joel Schlessinger, MD, a father of two children; a board-certified dermatologist, a board-certified pediatrician and a board-certified dermatologic cosmetic surgeon in private practice;  and the president of LovelySkin, Inc, in Omaha, Nebraska

Q&A by Wyatt Myers