However a pioneering new treatment has found a way to quickly erase birthmarks without pain or trauma.
Birthmarks are caused when abnormal blood vessels form in the womb when the walls of the vessels weaken and then bulge. They are thought to be genetic.
Birthmarks can grow over time as they can swell with blood. They can occur anywhere on the body, but are common on the head and neck.
Laser removal of birthmarks can be successful in getting rid of or reducing the appearance of superficial birthmarks, but they do not work on deeper birthmarks.
Another removal method is injecting alcohol into the birthmark site to destroy them, but alcohol is very toxic and can cause ulceration and scarring.
But in Japan a pioneering new treatment that involves injecting a drug usually used for treating cancer called bleomycin into the site of the birthmark. Injecting bleomycin causes the abnormal blood vessels to seal and close.
The new treatment is showing promising results, with 93% of patients responding to the treatment. In addition the re-grow rate of the birthmark after treatment with bleomycin injections is only 1%, which is very low compared to other treatments and the results do not leave any scarring.
The procedure takes about half an hour. The patient is either sedated or has a light general anaesthetic because the injection is painful, though there’s very little pain afterwards.
An average of four treatments at 3-6 weeks apart are required for full results.