Lasers can safely and effectively remove unwanted birthmarks
Several studies have shown that it is easier to remove port-wine stain birthmarks when patients are younger. A new study demonstrates that it may be advantageous to use a pulsed-dye laser to do so.
Researchers from the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York and from St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, also in New York, have reviewed nearly 50 cases of pulsed-dye laser removal of facial port-wine stains on babies. Treatment was performed with a 595-nm V-beam pulsed-dye laser from Candela Corp. of Wayland, Mass., with fluence ranging from 7.75 to 9.5 J/cm2, a 10-mm spot size and 1.5-ms pulse duration. Treatments took place every four to six weeks until the port-wine stain appeared normal or until the parents were satisfied. The investigators evaluated the cases after one year of treatment.
They found that the treatment was more effective when the birthmark was small to begin with. In any case, the average area cleared was as high as 85.6 percent for patients with stains covering more than 20 percent of their faces and up to 90.7 percent for those with stains covering less than 20 percent. The ability to remove the birthmark also varied with its location on the face. No atrophy or scarring occurred.
The researchers concluded that the treatment is both safe and effective for treating facial port-wine stains in infants less than 6 months old. They noted that cryogen-based laser-spot cooling enables higher fluence levels and greater spot sizes, which permit shorter treatment times. The investigators plan to study patients such as these over a longer period of time, as they suspect that the birthmarks will have a lower chance of darkening later when treated before 6 months of age as compared with treatment of babies older than 6 months. (Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, August 2007, pp. 563-568.)
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