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What is a pigmented birthmark?

A person may have a pigmented birthmark if they have an overgrowth of the cells that produce color in the skin. These birthmarks can have a variety of colors, textures and borders and look different on each individual.

There are three main types of pigmented birthmarks.

  • Nevi (moles): Moles can take on a range of colors (brown, black, tan, pink), and they may be flat or raised. While not all moles present health risks, large or giant ones should be checked out to make sure they aren’t precancerous (also known as atypia or spitz nevus).
  • Café-au-lait spots: Taking on the color of coffee with milk, these birthmarks can appear anywhere on the body and there can be one or multiple. These marks are usually harmless, but larger ones should be evaluated to make sure they are not a result of abnormal growth of nerve tissues (neurofibromatosis).
  • Mongolian spots: Appearing more often in children with darker skin, these bluish-gray patches can be found on the lower back or buttocks. They usually fade on their own within a few years.

What to expect

If you or your child has a pigmented birthmark, you should be examined by a dermatologist first. They can determine if the mark is harmless and should simply be monitored over time, or if it needs to be treated/removed. If necessary, they will refer you to our team of plastic surgeons, who will determine the best treatment approach depending on your specific type of pigmented birthmark.


The risks will vary depending on the type of birthmark and which treatment option is selected. Your doctor will discuss the specifics with you.


Recovery will look different for each person depending on their type of birthmark and treatment plan, but it should be a fairly quick and easy recovery. Young children heal especially fast and have less scarring due to increased elasticity in their skin. Our surgeons use incisions designed to mimic natural facial lines and shadows to reduce the appearance of scars even further.

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