The Difference Between Vascular & Pigmented Birthmarks

Posted on 11 Dec, 2023

Here at The Laser Treatment Clinic, one of our areas of expertise is in the laser removal of various types of birthmarks. From cafe au lait spots to strawberry hemangioma, we can safely and effectively treat birthmarks with the aim to reduce their appearance or remove them from your skin. We believe that everyone deserves to feel confident within their skin, and if your birthmarks are causing you to become self-conscious, we can take care of it. 

There are two main kinds of birthmarks, vascular and pigmented. In this article we will be discussing the key differences between the two that you should be aware of. 

The key difference between vascular and pigmented birthmarks is that vascular birthmarks occur due to abnormalities in blood vessels, whereas pigmented birthmarks are due to the overproduction of melanin. These different kidneys of birthmarks also differ in colour. 

Vascular Birthmarks

These birthmarks are caused by abnormal blood vessels. They are usually light pink/red/purple in colour. Below are the different types of vascular birthmarks.

Salmon patches: Also known as angel’s kiss or stork bite, these birthmarks are light pink/red patches of skin that are commonly found on the forehead, back of the neck, or eyelids. These birthmarks are very common but usually fade over time. If you have a prominent salon patch that hasn’t faded much with age, our laser birthmark removal therapy can help.

Hemangiomas: these birthmarks are raised red/purple benign growths. They happen a few months after birth due to blood vessel abnormalities and can continue to grow for a few more months before gradually shrinking over time. 

Port-wine stains: These pink, red, purple marks are caused by an overabundance of capillaries in the skin. The main difference between these birthmarks compared to other vascular birthmarks is that they do not fade or shrink over time, in fact they may darken. 

Pigmented birthmarks

Pigmented birthmarks are caused by an overproduction of pigment cells in the skin. These cells produce melanin, which is the pigment responsible for the colour of your skin. Below are a few of the most common types of pigmented birthmarks.

Cafe au lait spots: these birthmarks are a couple of shades darker than your skin colour and often appear at birth. Whilst one or two of these birthmarks are harmless, having lots of them can indicate an underlying disorder. 

Moles (nevus): Moles are clusters of melanocytes that can appear anywhere on the skin. While most moles are harmless, some may have the potential to become cancerous, so monitoring changes in moles is important.

The key differences

  • Vascular birthmarks are often red/purple, whereas pigmented birthmarks are usually tan-dark brown
  • Changes over time: Many vascular birthmarks, especially hemangiomas, may change in appearance over time, often becoming smaller and lighter. Pigmented birthmarks, on the other hand, may remain stable or change minimally.

For more information about laser birthmark removal, contact our team today.