Changes in our skin as we age are inevitable, including loss of moisture, changes in…
Considering around 80% of people have birthmarks, the chances are that you do too. As a result, you might be wondering how to get rid of that mole or discolouration. Especially if it’s somewhere noticeable and affecting your confidence.
Many people explore potentially dangerous ways to remove birthmarks at home, in desperation. Others seek professional help. But most start where you are, online, looking for clear information and advice. And that’s what today’s post is all about.
There are a couple of direct ways to remove birthmarks, such as surgery and laser therapy. Additionally, certain medications can shrink them or reduce their visibility. However, some birthmarks are tough to remove entirely and may require a combination of treatment and makeup to conceal.
How Are Birthmarks Treated?
Thanks to the marvels of modern medicine, there are more ways to get rid of birthmarks than ever.
Here are the most common methods:
- Laser therapy
- Medications (topical and oral)
- Surgical removal
Deciding which treatment is best for you comes down to the type of birthmarks that you have.
Surgery is usually best for physically removing blemishes like moles. In contrast, laser therapy makes vascular (red and pink) birthmarks fainter and less noticeable.
And in some cases, medication can also help dissipate birthmarks and keep them from reappearing.
We’ll dive into each treatment option in more detail in a moment. That way, you can choose the best one for you. But first, let’s tackle a big question that gets asked a lot…
Can You Remove Birthmarks at Home?
If you’ve stumbled upon an at-home birthmark removal treatment that sounds drastic, we highly recommend you avoid it at all costs.
Some people swear by the efficacy of at-home treatments, while others denounce them as old wives’ tales. Thankfully, the only ones worth trying won’t break the bank or cause you any harm if they don’t produce the results you’re hoping for.
Here are two at-home options that could be worth your time:
- Lemon Juice – a historical topical method of fading freckles and lightening hair.
- Olive Oil – a natural moisturiser, particularly effective for those with dry skin.
With either of these at-home remedies, dab a few drops on the birthmark and leave it to soak for up to 30 mins. Next, wash it off with warm water, dry the area, and repeat at least three times daily.
If these don’t work, do not try more drastic at-home measures. It’s time to let medical science step into the ring…
Laser Therapy for Birthmarks
One of the most popular (and least invasive) ways to get rid of birthmarks is laser therapy. Just like it sounds, highly concentrated and precise lasers are focused on your birthmarks.
Depending on how that laser gets calibrated, it can eliminate different types of congenital blemishes.
For vascular lesion birthmarks (which are typically red or pink), the laser targets the underlying blood vessels. While for blue and brown birthmarks, the beams instead focus on decreasing local melanin.
Laser therapy can treat a range of different birthmarks, including:
- Port-wine stains
- Strawberry hemangiomas
- Café au lait spots
- Facial dermal melanocytosis
- Mongolian spots
Prices for laser therapy vary depending on the size of the birthmark.
Generally, you can expect sessions to cost around £200-£500. And while that’s a fair price for peace of mind, keep in mind that you may need to pay for several visits.
Still, laser therapy is an excellent solution for zapping away unwanted blemishes. Studies have shown it can efficiently remove marks at little to no risk to your health.
Medications for Treating Birthmarks
Believe it or not, there are medicines out there that can reduce the visibility of birthmarks.
Or get rid of them entirely!
One of the most common and effective medications is propranolol. Commonly used to treat high blood pressure, it can also stop hemangiomas (birthmarks that appear in infancy).
Research shows beta-blockers like propranolol, in general, are excellent at tackling vascular birthmarks. They reduce blood flow to that area and shrink blood vessels, making vascular lesions less noticeable.
In fact, beta-blockers have even saved many babies from vision problems. Because if hemangiomas spread to an infant’s eyes and go untreated, they can cause blindness.
Some other medications used to treat birthmarks includes:
- Other beta-blockers
Finding the correct medicine for you can be tricky. Particularly since some only work well for children or infants.
As a result, consult a doctor before trying any sort of topical or oral birthmark treatment.
Surgery to Remove Birthmarks
For some birthmarks, laser therapy and medicine will have little effect.
Moles, for example, tend to stubbornly resist any non-invasive treatment. Regardless of how many “miraculous remedies” you might come across online.
That’s where birthmark removal surgery comes in.
In cases where nothing else works, you can have a doctor cut your birthmarks off. And it’s not always a cosmetic decision either.
Removing certain birthmarks, like moles, is critical in preventing cancer.
Another form of birthmark removal surgery is cryotherapy. This is where your doctor uses super-cooled liquid nitrogen to freeze birthmarks away.
Impressive as these procedures are, remember that surgery isn’t always an option. For example, it’s not practical or efficient to remove a port-wine stain by incision. Also, if you want to go the surgical route, be prepared to pay a pretty penny.
Removal of birthmarks like moles can run anywhere from £500 to £3000. Not to mention the NHS and other providers won’t cover it unless the blemish is cancerous or life-threatening.
Then again, is there anything more priceless than feeling good in your body?
What About the Risks?
While all those options sound incredible, you might be wondering about the risks involved. After all, there has to be a catch, right?
As it turns out, birthmark removal is almost always safe.
Laser therapy, in particular, is the least likely to cause you issues. The non-invasive nature of the procedure means that adverse side-effects are unlikely. You might get some bruising and soreness. But these laser therapy-related issues typically self-resolve in a week.
In contrast, surgical birthmark removal carries the most risk.
Following a birthmark removal surgery, you might experience:
- Pus or fluid coming from the incision site
However, serious complications are rare.
Medicines to treat birthmarks, particularly beta-blockers, have some side effects too. While taking them, you or your child might experience:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feeling cold
Are Some Birthmarks Permanent?
Unfortunately, you can’t completely remove all types of birthmarks.
Some, such as port-wine stains, won’t completely disappear over time and are resistant to treatment. Though, repeated laser therapy visits can help reduce how noticeable they are.
Other birthmarks, like café au lait spots, respond well to laser therapy in the short term. However, they tend to come back. Meaning regular sessions are necessary if you want to keep them away.
When all else fails, remember that makeup can be a lifesaver when it comes to concealing congenital blemishes.
While this is not a secret to the ladies, men often don’t realise how effective makeup is. If you’re a guy who hasn’t tried it, you’ll be surprised how much a little cover-up boosts your confidence.
If you’re trying to get rid of a birthmark, there are thankfully more options than ever. Just remember that these solutions aren’t one-size-fits-all. And you may need to combine a couple of different treatments together for the best results.