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CostHelper > Health & Personal Care  > Dermatology & Skin Care > Birthmark Removal

Birthmark Removal Cost


How Much Does Birthmark Removal Cost?

 
low costOver-the-Counter Cream: $10-$50+average costIntense Pulsed Light Treatment: $750-$7,000+high costSurgical Removal: About $1,000-$15,000+
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Patients often seek birthmark removal for cosmetic or social reasons or, much more rarely, because the birthmark is causing pain or another physical problem. Birthmarks fall into two categories -- vascular, meaning they are caused by a cluster of blood vessels, and pigmented, meaning they are caused by excess pigment. Common types of birthmarks for which patients seek removal include: port wine stains, which are vascular and deep red or purplish and cafe au lait spots, which are pigmented and light brown.

Typical costs:

  • For patients not covered by health insurance, birthmark removal typically costs less than $10 to $50 or more for an over-the-counter skin lightening cream. For example, Ambi Fade Cream with hydroquinone costs $4.99 at Walgreens.com and Meladerm skin lightening cream costs about $50. However, it is best to visit a dermatologist before attempting to treat a birthmark at home.
  • For patients not covered by health insurance, birthmark removal typically costs $750 to $7,000 or more for laser or intense pulsed light treatments. In general, small birthmarks would fall on the lower end of the range and larger birthmarks on the higher end. Most birthmarks require about five to 10 treatments. For example, Anderson Cosmetic & Vein Institute[1] in Cincinnati charges $150 to $350 per session for laser birthmark removal. Medispa Institute[2] in Houston, charges $150 per session for a quarter-sized or smaller birthmark and up to $400 or more per session for larger birthmarks, depending on the size. Intense Pulsed Light Therapy for a birthmark typically costs about $300-$600 per session.
  • For patients not covered by health insurance, birthmark removal typically costs from less than $1,000 to $15,000 or more for surgical excision. The cost would be on the lower end for a small pigmented birthmark, such as a cafe au lait spot, and on the higher end for a large hemangioma[3] .
  • Birthmark removal often is considered a cosmetic procedure, but some insurance companies cover it in some cases. For example, Aetna[4] considers pulsed dye laser treatment medically necessary for port wine stains or other hemangiomas only if they are on the face or neck. And CIGNA[5] covers laser treatment of port wine stains if they result in bleeding or painful nodules, and in other rare cases. The Vascular Birthmarks Foundation[6] offers a guide to insurance appeals. For patients covered by health insurance, costs would include office visit copays or coinsurance of 10% to 50% for surgery.
Related articles: Intense Pulsed Light Therapy, Scar Removal, Stretch Mark Removal

What should be included:
  • A dermatologist will perform an initial consultation to determine the type of birthmark. . The Mayo Clinic[7] offers descriptions and photos of the most common birthmarks.
  • A pulsed dye laser often is used to treat vascular birthmarks such as port wine stains. Typically, no anesthesia is used, and the doctor uses a machine that cools the skin with water, and then emits a laser beam, targeted to destroy the blood vessels that make up the birthmark. Multiple treatments usually are required. The Baylor College of Medicine Department of Dermatology[8] offers an overview.
  • Many other types of lasers and light-based therapies, such as IPL, are used to treat various types of birthmarks. The American Society for Dermatologic Surgery offers an overview of commonly used lasers and which types of birthmarks they can treat.
  • Surgical excision might be the recommended treatment for pigmented birthmarks that cannot be treated with lasers, or for some difficult-to-treat hemangiomas.
Additional costs:
  • If a birthmark that has been treated reappears, a repeat of the initial treatment, at the same cost, or a different type of treatment, might be necessary.
Discounts:
  • Many dermatologists and plastic surgeons offer a per-treatment discount if a package of laser or IPL treatments is purchased, for a savings of about 10% to 20%. For example, Lorrie Klein, M.D.[9] offers discounted IPL packages.
Shopping for birthmark removal:
  • A birthmark should be evaluated by a board-certified dermatologist or, if the patient is a child, a pediatric dermatologist. The American Academy of Dermatology offers a directory[10] of board-certified dermatologists. The Society for Pediatric Dermatology offers a pediatric dermatologist finder[11] ; board certification can be verified with the American Board of Dermatology[12] .
  • Birthmark removal also can be performed by a plastic surgeon. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons[13] and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery[14] offer referral services.
  • Risks of pulsed dye laser treatment can include discomfort, bruising, dissatisfaction with results and, in rare cases, scarring. Risks of IPL can include some pain, redness, irritation and dissatisfaction with results. Risks of surgery can include reaction to anesthesia, bleeding, blood clots, infection and death.
Material on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Always consult your physician or pharmacist regarding medications or medical procedures.
 
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External Resources:
  1.  www.anderson-cosmetic.com/index.cfm/PageID/1139
  2.  www.medispainstitute.com/menu_laser_birthmark.html
  3.  www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001459.htm
  4.  www.aetna.com/cpb/medical/data/500_599/0559.html
  5.  /cignaforhcp.cigna.com/public/content/pdf/coveragePolicies/medical/mm_0313_coverageposi...
  6.  www.birthmark.org/node/33
  7.  www.mayoclinic.com/health/birthmarks/SN00033
  8.  www.bcm.edu/dermatology/index.cfm?pmid=1838
  9.  www.ocdermatology.com/ipl-photo-facial-rejuvenation/
  10.  www.aad.org/find-a-derm/
  11.  www.pedsderm.net/locator.php
  12.  www.abderm.org/home/verify_certification.html
  13.  www1.plasticsurgery.org/find_a_surgeon/
  14.  www.surgery.org/consumers/find-a-plastic-surgeon
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