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Birthmarks are irregularities or blemishes on the skin that are present at birth or appear shortly afterwards. The causes of birthmarks are largely unknown. They can have regular or irregular borders, be raised or flat, and have different shades of color, including pink, red, purple, black, brown, tan and pale blue. Birthmarks cannot be prevented and are usually harmless. Some disappear or shrink over a period of time. Other birthmarks, however, may be associated with health problems and some are cosmetically disfiguring. These require the attention of a specialized plastic surgeon. Birthmarks may be treated with lasers, plastic surgery, corrective makeup or skin grafts, depending on the professional opinion of the surgeon.


A hemangioma is a vascular lesion that is present at birth  and most often found in the skin. These are usually superficial. Hemangiomas are made up of thin-walled, low-to-high-flow blood vessels. There are two types of hemangiomas. 

Involuting hemangioma

The rapidly shrinking (involuting) hemangioma is present at birth and can go through a rapid regression phase and may completely disappear by the time the child is 12–18 months of age.

Noninvoluting hemangioma

The non-shrinking (noninvoluting) hemangioma is also present at birth, but grows proportionately as the child grows. These hemangiomas do not go through a regression phase. 

Evaluation at an early age is important to determine what type of lesion the child has and to follow or treat the lesion over time. Hemangiomas can be treated with lasers, surgery or corrective makeup.

hemangioma before and after

Vascular malformation

A vascular malformation is another type of birthmark or congenital growth made up of arteries, veins, capillaries or lymphatic vessels. Hemangiomas and port wine stains are types of vascular malformations. 

Another vascular malformation is called a lymphangioma. Unlike hemangiomas, vascular malformations do not have a growth cycle and are usually unnoticeable at birth. Lymphangiomas are formed when excess fluid accumulates within the lymphatic vessels and sometimes involves blood vessels.

Vascular malformations should be medically evaluated as soon as they are noticed.

vascular malformation before and after


A nevus, also called a hairy nevus, is different from a birthmark or regular moles that appear on a child as a toddler or older child; they are present at birth. These nevi are often pale in color at birth and become darker and more visible shortly after birth and continue to grow with the child. 

A nevus appears as a dark-colored patch on the skin with any of the following: brown to blue or black in color, hair, regular or uneven borders, smooth or wart-like skin surface and/or small satellite areas. Although most congenital nevi are benign, they do have the potential to turn into malignant melanoma.

Early evaluation by an experienced physician is critical.

nevus before and after

Port wine stain

A port wine stain is a birthmark that looks like red wine was spilled or splashed on the skin. These birthmarks can be anywhere on the body, but are most commonly found on the face, neck, scalp, arms or legs. 

A port wine stain may be amenable to laser surgery. Corrective makeup may also be used.

port wine stain before and after