Laser Therapy for Birthmarks

Topic Overview

Laser therapy only works on birthmarks that are close to the surface of the skin. It commonly is used to lighten the appearance or reduce the bumpiness of port-wine stains. Laser therapy is used to treat a superficial hemangioma only in rare cases, because this type of birthmark generally goes away on its own.

Laser therapy for birthmarks can be an effective treatment. Ask your doctor to show you photographs of birthmarks that have been treated and photographs of birthmarks that have not been treated.

  • Laser therapy involves aiming short bursts of laser light at the birthmark to lighten the color of the birthmark, shrink the birthmark, or cause it to stop growing.
  • Laser therapy can cause pain. Young children may need to be given a general anesthetic or other medicines so they do not move during the treatment.
  • After laser therapy, the treated skin becomes dark purple for about 7 to 10 days. After that time, the skin should return to its normal color. But the purple area sometimes can take 6 to 8 weeks to completely disappear.
  • A child may need more than one treatment with laser therapy, depending on his or her tolerance for the procedure and the size of the birthmark.
  • Laser therapy for port-wine stains has better results when it is done at a young age.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Last Revised March 8, 2013

Last Revised: March 8, 2013

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