Birthmarks & Nevus
Hemangiomas, Vascular Malformations
Hemagiomas (Strawberry mark)
Hemangiomas are a type of birthmark made of blood vessels. They usually appear as soft masses with red or blue coloration. These tend to grow when the child is very young. Hemangiomas can shrink and some can disappear usually by 5-9 years of age. However, they can leave a scar or skin irregularity. These can be treated by careful observation, occasionally medications to help the hemangioma shrink more quickly, or excision if scarring does occur.
Hemangiomas on the face can sometime block vision or hearing or cause breathing difficulty. In these cases, early treatment is necessary in order to allow hearing and seeing to develop normally. Treatment usually entails direct excision or medications to shrink the hemangioma quickly.
Capillary Malformation (Port-wine stain)
Capillary malformation, or more commonly called Port-wine stains, are also a birthmark made of blood vessels; however, these appear as flat red splotches. They can vary significantly in size. These do not fade with time, and treatment with a laser is recommended. The laser shrinks the blood vessels, causing the red color to fade. Best response to laser occurs if treatment is started early, before one year of age.
Melanocytic nevus (mole)
Congenital melanocytic nevus, also known as a mole, is brown, flat or raised birthmark. These marks happen when pigment-producing cells in the skin grow excessively and produce melanin (brown pigment). Most commonly, these are small and do not need any treatment.
However, if these moles are large or have suspicious features (irregular borders, growing, bleeding, itching, variegated color), they have a small risk of becoming a cancer, called melanoma, and may need to be excised. Sometimes, these moles can be very large, greater than the size of the palm of your hand, and removal is recommended to decrease cancer risk and improve appearance. If large, tissue expansion may need to be done to remove the whole mark. Tissues expansion is a procedure where the skin is stretched with saline-filled tissue expanders placed under the skin.
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