Birthmark is a broad term used to describe skin irregularities that are present at birth or appear later in life. Most birthmarks do not indicate a medical problem, and some will resolve spontaneously over time. While most birthmarks have no reason to cause concern, some may present a cosmetic problem, a medical problem, or be associated with future medical issues.
If you have a questionable pigmentation, or if you’re unsure whether that spot on your arm is, actually, a birthmark, visiting one of our offices is an excellent start. Our practitioners are experienced with every type of skin lesion, which means we can assess your mark, let you know if it’s something to worry about, and suggest various treatment options.
What Causes Birthmarks
Though the name may imply otherwise, not all birthmarks appear at birth. In many cases, they can develop hours, days, weeks, or even years later. Birthmarks are caused by an overgrowth of structures or cells normally found in the skin. For example, extra pigment could cause a large mole at birth. Additionally, blood vessels could cause “angel kisses” or “stork bites” on the forehead, eye lids, back of the neck, scalp, or lower back. Large, irregular blood vessels can cause “strawberry” hemangiomas, port wine stains, or larger more significant hemangiomas. The type of birthmark you have will indicate the way in which it was formed.
The two most common types of birthmarks are vascular and pigmented birthmarks. When blood vessels grow abnormally, they form vascular birthmarks, which are usually pink or red in color. The color of larger or deeper vascular birthmarks may range from red or purple to blue. By contrast, pigmented birthmarks are caused by extra pigment in the skin and may vary in color from brown or blue to slate gray.
Birthmarks can be different shapes and sizes, flat or raised. A birthmark should not cause any pain, but if it hurts, itches, bleeds, becomes infected, or interferes with vision or eating, the birthmark should get immediate attention from your dermatologist.
Types of Birthmarks
While there is a nearly endless list describing types of birthmarks, some are more common than others. Below, you’ll find descriptions and causes of some of the most common types of birthmarks we see.
- Port Wine Stains – These birthmarks are deep red or purple marks that are flat. They are composed of dilated blood capillaries and often appear on the face. These birthmarks are permanent, which means some patients may be interested in port wine stain treatment.
- Blue – Also known as Mongolian Spots, blue birthmarks are flat and typically appear on the lower back and buttocks. They can also be found on the arms or legs, and they are permanent.
- Stork Bites – These birthmarks appear on the back of the neck, on the forehead, between the eyebrows, or on the eyelids of newborns. They typically last into adulthood.
- Strawberry Hemangiomas – Small, closely packed blood vessels comprise these birthmarks. They appear when blood vessels grow rapidly, and they can appear anywhere on the body. Strawberry hemangiomas typically disappear with age.
- Angel Kisses – These birthmarks most often appear on the forehead and eyelids.
Birthmark Treatment and When to See a Specialist
Most birthmarks are harmless and will require no medical intervention. Your dermatologist should examine large moles that were present at birth annually. In addition, large gray patches present at birth on the trunk or face should be documented in the patient’s medical record. Discuss the prognosis and treatment of raised or large hemangiomas with your dermatologist. Birthmarks that appear in childhood as rough patches or warty lines on the neck, scalp, or extremities should also be brought to the attention of our dermatologist or skin care specialist.
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*Results may vary per patient. Services vary by location.
Zel Skin & Laser Specialists – Plymouth ★★★★★ on Google
5:27pmFelt COvid safe ... always a great experience working with professionals
Dr. Zelickson is thorough and patiently attentive to my concerns. Such a great practice and so easy to deal with. A great emphasis on safety during this pandemic which I really appreciate.
Brian brings a unique combination of medical science, clinical expertise, integrity and compassion to his patients. He provides the latest technology available in the field of dermatology but with a personalized touch for each patient. He is highly respected by his colleagues throughout the country for his expertise and sincerity.
Everyone I have met at Zel is amazing!
It is rare to find a dermatologist who is as knowledgeable about the many facets of clinical and cosmetic dermatology as Dr. Zelickson. Because of his knowledge and honesty, doctors worldwide know they can depend on his assessment of new therapies, procedures and medical devices. This, in turn, has made him a much sought–after speaker for the plethora of professional medical society meetings and engagements that we have throughout the year. I am honored to know Dr. Zelickson and consider him a friend to the profession.
Dr. Brian Zelickson was one of our initial Thermage investigators and helped us understand the mechanisms of non–invasive skin tightening. He is a renowned expert on how collagen can affect skin tightening and wrinkle reduction.
Dr. Brian Zelickson is one of this country’s leading laser experts. Not only is he unparalleled as a laser surgeon, it is not an exaggeration to state that his superb research helps determine the future of dermatologic laser surgery.
Dr. Zelickson is a highly regarded skin/light expert in our industry. When Candela looks for both medical and scientific advice for new laser applications, we often turn to him for his counsel. The input he provides us always starts with patient safety and satisfaction. We feel fortunate to be able to tap into Brian as an independent resource. The patients who are treated with Candela devices are often the beneficiaries of Brian’s input to us.
Most patients prefer seeing a doctor who is known for a particular specialty or procedure, but all patients want to see the doctor who invented the procedure or therapy. Dr. Brian Zelickson is one of the most respected physicians in the field of cosmetic dermatology and aesthetic medicine. He has lectured around the world and is one of the most sought–after speakers for all major meetings in dermatology.
I would rate Dr. Zelickson's clinic 10 stars!
We have felt honored to have Dr. Brian Zelickson, a world–renowned dermatologist who is distinguished as a high–quality care physician, serving as the investigator evaluating Syneron non–invasive skin tightening technology
I trained with Dr. Zelickson at Mayo Clinic, and I found him to be a very bright and creative dermatologist and scientist. Later, he was our best advisor when we set up our clinic in the Basque Country in Spain. I call him the ‘paparazzi of dermatology.’ His contribution to our speciality is probably among the best of this century.
Tuve la suerte de conocer al Dr. Brian Zelickson en Minneapolis hace muchos anos y desde entonces acudo regularmente a compartir sus conocimientos. Es un científico honrado, brillante, creativo e innovador. Nunca deja de sorprenderte agradablemente.
Dr. Zelickson is a very well–respected dermatologist, not only in the U.S., but also in Europe. He is famous for being the author of relevant dermatological studies published in many prestigious medical journals and for the improvements he’s made on minimally invasive cosmetic procedures that are being used by dermatologists all over the world.
Our view from Europe of Dr. Brian Zelickson is that he is one of the leading four or five U.S. laser dermatologists. His research contributions, his superb lectures and his expert knowledge of laser skin surgery make him a valued friend, colleague and guest.
Dr. Brian Zelickson is one of the world’s leaders in cutaneous laser surgery. He has performed groundbreaking research over the past decade, advancing the field as well as expertly providing the most up–to–date laser treatments for his patients.
Brian Zelickson is a world–renowned laser expert who helps develop the lasers and treatment parameters used by the rest of the world. He is where others turn to learn the latest techniques in laser surgery. If you want the best treatment available, delivering the best results in the safest environment available, there is no need to look anywhere else.
I have met many laser experts in my 20 years of teaching, lecturing and running a busy practice. There is no one who I respect more than Brian. If I have a clinical question or research idea, Brian is one of the few individuals I call, as I know I can count on his intellect, integrity and common sense.
Dr. Zelickson is one of America’s most knowledgeable laser experts. He has done pioneering work with many of the laser and light–based technologies developed in the world over the last 10 years. He is a giant in the field.
Dr. Zelickson is one of the world’s leaders in the field of lasers for the treatment of the skin. His many years experience in treating thousands of patients with lasers and other medical devices makes him one of the most sought–after doctors in this field. Innovation and caring are his trademarks.