While it isn’t medically necessary to treat most birthmarks, if you have a prominent birthmark that makes you feel less confident, you may be wondering how to remove it.
Some birthmarks will fade on their own, and others will require treatment options like:
- laser therapy
- certain medication
Your dermatologist may also recommend that certain moles or raised birthmarks be removed for medical reasons. Sometimes these surgical methods can leave a scar.
Most birthmarks can be removed or at least made less noticeable. Anyone can be a good candidate for birthmark removal, but your doctor will help you decide what treatment option is right for you based on the type of birthmark, including:
The price of birthmark removal will depend on whether it’s covered by insurance. Laser resurfacing can cost $1000 to $3000 per session, and you may need more than one. Shave or surgical excisions can cost $100 to $500.
Vascular birthmarks, like hemangiomas, may require that you take a certain medication, which is likely covered by your insurance.
Besides the appointment itself, you shouldn’t need to take time off from work.
Depending on the type of birthmark you have, your doctor may recommend:
- taking a medication
- having a laser treatment
- having it surgically removed
Shaving or surgery physically removes the birthmark, whereas lasers shrink blood vessels to make vascular birthmarks less visible. Medication is also used to shrink certain birthmarks, like some hemangiomas.
- Laser therapy can help lighten red birthmarks like port wine birthmarks.
- The laser light converts to heat, which shrinks or eliminates blood vessels, making birthmarks less noticeable.
- Laser therapy is most effective when used from infancy, but it can also be used on children and adults.
- A small 1995 study and a 1991 research review showed that in some cases, lasers can fully get rid of birthmarks, especially café au lait marks or congenital vascular birthmarks.
Surgery or shaving
- Birthmark surgery is typically done in an office setting with local anesthesia. If the birthmark area is very large, it may be done under general anesthesia in a surgery setting.
- A small scalpel is used to remove the birthmark.
- In some cases, doctors may prescribe beta-blockers, which are typically used for high blood pressure.
- They shrink blood vessels and reduce blood flow to an area, making certain birthmarks, such as hemangiomas of infancy, less noticeable.
- Corticosteroids also shrink blood vessels and can minimize hemangiomas of infancy.
- These treatments are only effective during the birthmark’s proliferative phase, when it grows, which ends when someone is about 1 year old.
- After that, they typically begin to disappear on their own. Any remnants can be removed surgically or with laser therapy.
Birthmarks on your face, scalp, and neck are commonly removed because they are in highly noticeable spots on your body.
Birthmarks anywhere on your body can be removed, but if it’s in a spot that’s not super visible, it likely won’t need to be removed.
There are some side effects associated with birthmark removal. If surgery or shaving has been done, look for symptoms of infection including:
- fluid coming from the incision
In rare cases, medication taken to reduce birthmarks can cause side effects including:
- slowed heart rate
- constipation or diarrhea
- sleeping problems
Talk with your doctor immediately if your child is experiencing side effects.
Here’s what to expect after the different types of treatments for birthmark removal.
- There may be redness or discoloration, swelling, bruising, or irritation for 24 hours after laser therapy to remove a birthmark.
- Keep the area clean and avoid the sun.
- You may experience peeling around the treated area.
- The area should be healed within a week.
- Results are permanent, but the birthmark may not totally disappear.
- There shouldn’t be much downtime after surgery to remove a mole or a birthmark.
- Keep the incision site clean and dry, and avoid strenuous activity that could irritate the stitches.
- Results are permanent, though there may be some scarring.
- Typically your child will need 14 to 18 months of a prescription to see final results, which should be permanent.
- Your doctor should have your child taper off the medication rather than stop cold turkey.
It can be helpful to see before and pictures from real patients when deciding whether or not to get a birthmark removed.
- If your doctor advises it, be prepared to stop taking blood thinning medications, smoking, or drinking alcohol in the days before your appointment.
- Ask your doctor if you’ll need to arrange for someone to drive you home.
- Try to arrive at your appointment with clean, dry skin.
- About 1 to 2 weeks in advance, make sure to ask the doctor or nurses any questions you may have about the procedure.
- Tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking.
Home remedies will not be able to remove or lessen the appearance of a birthmark, and could actually be harmful. Talk with a medical professional if you or your child has a birthmark that you’d like removed.
Most birthmarks will not need to be removed for medical reasons, but if you have a birthmark you’d like to make less visible, you may be interested in treatments to remove a birthmark. These can include:
- laser therapy
It’s important to note that the results may not be permanent. The cost varies by procedure and will not be covered by insurance if it’s done for cosmetic reasons.