Birthmarks are benign irregularities on the skin and can appear anywhere on the body.
Birthmarks can be a significant source of embarrassment for adults and children alike. These markings can also be challenging to treat without the proper expertise and devices that allow for customization of each treatment to the unique needs of each patient.
The physicians at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York ® are renowned experts in a wide variety of laser birthmark treatments, allowing us to treat numerous patients that may not find help elsewhere. Many of our techniques are now being utilized throughout the world. We treat patients of all ages including young infants. We also treat a variety of vascular and pigmented birthmarks including port-wine stains, hemangiomas, Nevus of Ota, Nevus of Ito, café au lait macules, epidermal nevi, blue nevus, and venous malformations.
Treating young patients for birthmark conditions is a dedicated part of our practice. Our office has been designed to be kid-friendly and comfortable for families. Dr. Geronemus treats patients of ages, including infants and toddlers. He believes that early intervention is the most effective way to successfully treat vascular birthmarks, using fast and painless treatments in his office.
What devices are used to treat birthmarks?
What are vascular birthmarks?
Vascular birthmarks develop when blood vessels near the surface of the skin do not form correctly, creating an overgrowth of cells. The most common type of vascular pigmentations include:
- Port Wine Stains – These birthmarks are reddish discolorations, most often appearing on the face, neck, arms, and legs. In some cases, they can be quite large, covering a significant portion of the face or limb. They are caused by dilated capillaries just underneath the surface of the skin.
- Hemangiomas – Deep pigmentation that may look like a red mark (strawberry mark). They originate with a cluster of larger blood vessels that begin growing prior to birth. We use lasers to treat the red component in hemangiomas.
- Venous Malformations – These malformations are caused by defects within the veins and can often resemble a varicose vein. The markings are bluish in color since they are deeper beneath the skin’s surface. Venous malformations do not go away naturally – they always require treatment to eliminate.
What are pigmented birthmarks?
Pigmented birthmarks are the result of large concentrations of melanin in one spot, and are usually brown in color. Some types of pigmented birthmarks include:
- Café Au Lait Spots – Pigmentations that are light tan in color that looks as though coffee with milk has been spilled on the skin.
- Nevus of Ota -This discoloration is typically brown or blue and appears around the eyes. Pigment can also occur in the whites of the eyes.
- Epidermal Nevi – Birthmarks that are light or dark brown and tend to grow thicker over time. They form in clusters and can resemble warts.
- Moles – (also known as nevi or nevus) Moles are a general term for any tan, black, or brown discoloration on the skin that may be present at birth or develop later in life. It is crucial to monitor moles for any changes in size, color, texture, and sensation to determine whether or not they have become cancerous.
For more information on Vascular Birthmarks and Vascular Malformations, please visit the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation website, where Roy G. Geronemus, M.D., can be found as one of the leading local and international laser specialists. You can also find information on the Roy G. Geronemus, MD, Humanitarian Scholarship that is awarded each year to applicants who are living with a vascular birthmark, tumor, or syndrome.
Successful and safe use of Q-switched lasers in the treatment of nevus of Ota in children with phototypes IV-VI
Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, 2018 Jan 50(1):56-60.
JAMA Dermatology (2017)
Effect of General Anesthesia on Neurodevelopmental Abnormalities in Children Undergoing Treatment of Vascular Anomalies With Laser Surgery: A Retrospective Review
Dermatol Surg. 2016 Dec 26. doi: 10.1097
Single-treatment resolution of vascular blebs within port wine stains using a novel 1,064-nm neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet laser
Dermatol Surg. 2013 Jul;39(7):1113-5.
Retrospective study of the treatment of infantile hemangiomas using a combination of propranolol and pulsed dye laser
Dermatol Surg. 2013 Jun;39(6):923-33.
Laser treatment in the management of infantile hemangiomas and capillary vascular malformations
Tech Vasc Interv Radiol. 2013 Mar: 16(1):51-4.
Laser treatment in the management of infantile hemangiomas and capillary vascular malformations
Tech Vasc Interv Radiol. 2013 Mar: 16(1):51-4.
Infantile hemangiomas treated with a combination of propranolol and pulsed dye laser
Lasers Surg Med. 2012; 44(S24):3-4.
Commentary of “Beneficial effects of early pulsed dye laser therapy in patients with infantile hemangiomas”
Dermatol Surg. 2012 Oct; 38(10):1739-40.
Ablative Fractional Resurfacing for Involuted Hemangioma Residuum
Arch Dermatol. 2012 Nov; 148(11): 1294-8.
Treatment of Nevus of Ota in Fitzpatrick skin type VI with the 1064-nm Nd:YAG laser
Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, 2011 Feb
Glomuvenous Malformations (familial generalized multiple glomangiomas)
Dermatol Online J. 2011 Oct; 17(10):9. Review.
Letter regarding early laser treatment of periorbital infantile hemangiomas may work, but is it really the best treatment option?
Dermatol Surg. 2010; 36(9):1495-97.
Early laser treatment of periorbital infantile hemangiomas may work, but is it really the best treatment option?
Dermatol Surg. 2010 Sep; 36(9):1495-7.
Treatment of Superficial Infantile Hemangiomas of the Eyelid USing the 595-nm Pulsed Dye Laser
Dermatol Surg. 2010 May; 36(5):590-597.
Outcomes of Childhood Hemangiomas Treated with the Pulsed-Dye Laser with Dynamic Cooling: A Retrospective Chart Analysis
Dermatol Surg. 2009 Dec; 35(12):1947-54.
Efficacy of Early Treatment of Facial Port Wine Stains in Newborns: A Review of 49 Cases
Lasers Surg Med. 2007 Aug; 39(7):563-8.
Our approach to pediatric dermatologic laser surgery
Lasers Surg Med. 2005 Oct; 37(4):255-63.
Hemangiomas: evaluation and treatment
Dermatol Surg. 2001 May; 27(5):475-85.
Treatment of port-wine stains by variable pulse width pulsed dye laser with cryogen spray: a preliminary study
Dermatol Surg. 2001; 27:963-5.
High fluence modified pulsed dye laser photocoagulation with dynamic cooling of port wine stains in infancy
Arch Dermatol. 2000; 136:942-3.
Stress and family satisfaction in parents of children with facial port-wine stains
Pediatr Dermatol. 1999 May-Jun; 16(3):190-7.
Treatment of port wine stains
N Engl J Med. 1998; 339:635-6.
Effect of dynamic cooling on 585 nm pulsed dye laser treatment of port-wine stain birthmarks
Dermatol Surg. 1997; 23:657-62.
Multimodal management of diffuse neonatal hemangiomatosis
J Am Acad Dermatol. 1997 Dec; 37(6):1019-21.
Guidelines of care for hemangiomas of infancy
J Am Acad Dermatol. 1997 Oct; 37(4):631-7.
The pulsed-dye laser for infantile hemangiomas
Plast Reconstr Surg. 1996 May; 97(6):1302-3.
Adverse effects associated with the 577 – and 585 – nanometer pulsed dye laser in the treatment of cutaneous vascular lesions: a study of 500 patients
J Am Acad Dermatol. 1995 Apr; 32(4):613-7.
Effect of 7 mm vs. 5 mm spot size on pulsed dye laser treatment of port-wine stains and hemangiomas
Lasers Surg Med. 1995; 7:56.
Pulsed dye laser therapy of resistant port-wine stains
Dermatol Surg. 1995; 21:515-21.
Anatomical differences of port-wine stains located on the trunk and extremities in response to treatment with the pulsed dye laser
Lasers Surg Med. 1994; 14(6):47.
Anatomical differences in the treatment of port wine stains with the pulsed dye laser
Arch Dermatol. 1993; 129:182-8.
Interferon alfa-2a therapy for extensive perianal and lower extremity hemangioma
J Am Acad Dermatol. 1993 Jul; 29(1):98-9.
Pulsed dye laser treatment of vascular lesions in children
J Dermatol Surg Oncol. 1993 Apr; 19(4):303-10.
Supraumbilical midabdominal raphe, sternal atresia, and hemangioma in an infant: response of hemangioma to laser and interferon alfa-2a
Pediatr Dermatol. 1993 Mar; 10(1):71-6.
Failure of the flashlamp-pumped pulsed dye laser to prevent progression to deep hemangioma
Pediatr Dermatol. 1993 Mar; 10(1):77-80.
The flashlamp-pumped pulsed dye laser in the treatment of cutaneous vascular disorders
Monografias de Dermatologia. 1992; 5(1):34-9.
Treatment of peri-orbital port wine stains with the flashlamp-pumped pulsed dye laser
Arch Ophthalmol. 1992 Jun; 110(6):793-7.
Treatment of a port wine stain in a black patient with the pulsed dye laser
J Dermatol Surg Oncol. 1992; 18:147-8.
Q-switched ruby laser therapy of nevus of Ota
Archives of Dermatology, 1992 Dec.
Capillary hemangiomas and treatment with the flashlamp-pumped pulsed dye laser
Arch Dermatol. 1991 Feb; 127(2):202-5.
Flashlamp-pumped pulsed dye laser for port wine stains in infancy: earlier versus later treatment
J Am Acad Dermatol. 1991; 24:467-72.
The medical necessity of the evaluation and treatment of port wine stains
J Dermatol Surg Oncol. 1991; 17:76-9, 1991.
Treatment of port wine stains during childhood with the flashlamp-pumped pulsed dye laser
J Am Acad Dermatol. 1990; 23:1142-8.
Porokeratosis of Mibelli with underlying hemangioma treated by the flashlamp-pumped pulsed dye laser
Cutis. 1990 Nov; 46(5):410-2.
The use of the pulsed dye laser for the treatment of port-wine stains in children
N Engl J Med. 1989; 321:901-2.
Birthmarks In The News
Questions and Answers
Q: What Are Some Groups Related to Birthmarks?
A: Below are some groups relating to birthmarks.
• About Face – A non-profit organization dedicated to providing information, emotional support, and educational programs to individuals who have a facial disfigurement, and to their families.
• Angioma Alliance – A non-profit international voluntary health organization created by people affected by cavernous angioma (cerebral cavernous malformations).
• Birth Defect Research for Children, Inc. – A non-profit organization that provides parents and expectant parents with information about birth defects and support services for their children.
• Changing Faces – A website in the UK dedicated to inform, challenge and inspire – and ultimately change the way we all see disfigurement.
• Children’s Craniofacial Association – A non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with facial differences and their families.
• Children’s Miracle Network – A non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals across North America.
• Cutis Marmorata Telangiectatica Congenita – A Netherlands website for help and information on CMTC.
• Faces – Dedicated to assisting children and adults who have craniofacial disorders resulting from disease, accident, or birth.
• KidsHealth – Providing doctor-approved health information about children from before birth through adolescence.
• KT Foundation – A non-profit organization to benefit those with Klippel-Trenaunay syndrome.
• Klippel Trenaunay Syndrome Support Group – Established to provide information about the group and about Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome, and to provide families, adults with K-T, and professionals with links.
• Miracle Flights – Provides transportation via airplane to ensure that no child is denied medical treatment because of the inability to pay for transportation.
• National Organization for Rare Disorders – This 501(c) 3 organization is a unique federation of voluntary health organizations dedicated to helping people with rare “orphan” diseases and assisting the organizations that serve them. NORD is committed to the identification, treatment, and cure of rare disorders through programs of education, advocacy, research, and service.
• National Organization of Vascular Anomalies – Dedicated to providing information and assistance on the diagnosis and treatment of vascular anomalies.
• Operation Smile – Provides life-changing surgeries to children throughout the world suffering from correctable facial deformities.
• Sturge-Weber Syndrome Community – A branch of the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation, providing support and services freely and upon a volunteer basis for individuals and families living with SWS and vascular birthmarks while sponsoring research and promoting physician education and awareness, as well as education of the public at large.
• Sturge-Weber Foundation – A non-profit organization dedicated to serving people with PWS, SWS, and KT and their families.
• The Disfigurement Guidance Center – Acts as an international information and resource bureau and gives information on treatments, literature, compensation and all other relevant services and facilities.
• The Hemangioma Treatment Foundation – Provides treatment to children who are affected by hemangiomas and other vascular birthmarks and educates physicians in the management of these lesions. This is an international organization that will offer support, treatment, and education based on need not country of origin.
• The Pediatric Glaucoma & Cataract Family Association – Canadian website for pediatric glaucoma and related eye conditions.
• Vascular Birthmarks Foundation – International charitable organization that provides support and informational resources for individuals affected by hemangiomas, port wine stains, and other vascular birthmarks and tumors, sponsors relevant research and promotes physician education.
• Von Hippel-Lindau Family Alliance – Dedicated to improving diagnosis, treatment, and quality of life for individuals and families affected by Von Hippel-Lindau disease.
Support Groups/Individuals and Parents – Discussion boards and support groups for birthmarks and related issues.
• Birthmarks and Hemangiomas (iVillage) – Support, encouragement, and friendship.
• PHACES Support (MSN Groups) – Public forum for parents and individuals living with PHACES.
• Sturge-Weber Syndrome Support Group (MSN Groups) – Public forum for parents and individuals living with Sturge-Weber syndrome.
• Vascular Birthmarks Support (MSN Groups) – Public forum for parents and individuals living with vascular birthmarks.
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