Birthmarks are common skin lesions that are either present at birth or develop shortly afterwards. They fall into two main categories: vascular birthmarks which result from a proliferation of blood vessels or pigmented birthmarks which consist of pigment producing cells.
Vascular birthmarks in children are either port wine stains or hemangiomas. It is important to distinguish between these two types as most hemangiomas will fade gradually on their own while port wine stains will not fade and can darken and thicken over time. Dr. Chapas is a leading authority in the treatment of vascular birthmarks in children and her research demonstrated that treatment of vascular birthmarks with pulsed dye lasers such as V-Beam Perfecta® before 6 months of age can significantly improve the appearance of these lesions (e.g., see Chapas AM and Geronemus RG (2009), “Physiologic changes in vascular birthmarks during early infancy: Mechanisms and clinical implications,” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 61(6): 1081-1082).
Most vascular birthmarks are treated in the office and require multiple treatments. Complicated cases may require general anesthesia and treatment by Dr. Chapas at the New York Eye and Ear hospital facility.
Pigmented birthmarks such as cafe au lait spots, Nevus of Ota, Becker’s Nevus and congenital nevi can also be improved with laser treatments. Pigment-targeting lasers such as the Q-switched Ruby and Alexandriate laser and the GentleMax® can lighten these lesions over multiple treatments.