What causes birthmarks?

Birthmarks can develop at birth, or shortly after that point. They can form in many shapes and colors, and although they are common and harmless, scientists still aren’t 100% certain why they develop. What we do know is that some can be the result of:

  • improperly formed blood vessels
  • melanocytes (the cells that give our skin its color) grouping together
  • skin overgrowth

Pigmented brown spots

Pigmented brown birthmarks include moles (pigmented nevi & congenital nevi) and cafe-au-lait spots. Pigmented nevi and congenital nevi can develop anywhere and occur when your skin cells grow in clusters, instead of spreading out evenly. The main difference between pigmented and congenital nevi is that congenital marks come with an increased risk of skin cancer.

Cafe-au-lait spots are light tan or brown spots that are oval in shape. While these spots are considered normal, the presence of several spots larger than a quarter may stem from the genetic disorder, neurofibromatosis (which causes abnormal cell growth of nerve tissues) or other conditions.

Vascular red spots

Port-wine stains, and strawberry & cavernous hemangiomas are all examples of red birthmarks. Port-wine stains are flat, purple-to-red marks made up of dilated blood capillaries. They usually form on the face and are permanent.

Strawberry hemangiomas commonly appear on the face, scalp, chest, or back. Cavernous hemangiomas usually have a reddish-blue color and appear as a spongy mass of tissue filled with blood.

Vascular birthmarks

Vascular birthmarks are the result of your blood vessels not properly forming. These marks are often pink, red, or purple in color, and develop after birth.

While most of these birthmarks are thought to be permanent, effective treatment options are available. At our clinic, we use laser technology to reduce & eliminate these marks.* Learn more about IPL and V-Beam by clicking on the links below. To schedule your consultation with Dr. Rubinstein, either in Studio City or Simi Valley, use our online scheduling portal.

*Individual results may vary; not a guarantee.

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We're happy to answer any questions you may have, feel free to call us at
(818) 505-9300