Nevus of Ota Birthmark Laser Removal

Birthmark Laser Removal


Nevus of Ota, also known as oculodermal melanocytosis, is a congenital birthmark characterized by the presence of melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) in the deeper layers of the skin (dermis). This condition affects individuals with Asian, African, and Hispanic descent, particularly women. Although Nevus of Ota is a harmless condition, it can be an emotional burden for those that have it and some individuals may opt for its removal due to aesthetic concerns. One of the most effective and commonly used methods for nevus of Ota birthmark removal is laser treatment.


Nevus of Ota birthmarks are caused by the migration of melanocytes (pigmented cells) from the neural crest to the skin during embryonic development. The pigmented cells settle primarily in  the region around the eye, including the eyelids and sometimes the forehead and cheeks. The birthmark typically presents as a bluish-gray or slate-colored patch of hyperpigmentation. Although benign, nevus of Ota can be psychologically distressing for some individuals, leading them to seek treatment options for its removal.

Laser treatment has revolutionized the field of dermatology and offers a safe and effective method for nevus of Ota birthmark removal for you. The procedure involves the use of specialized (q-switched) lasers that emit specific wavelengths of light to target and break down the excess melanin (pigment) in the affected areas.

  • Evaluation and Preparation: Before initiating the laser treatment, a thorough evaluation of the birthmark is conducted by our practitioners. Your assessment helps determine the depth, size, and location of the nevus of Ota. Additionally, your provider will inquire about your medical history, skin type, and any existing health conditions that may impact the treatment.
  • Selection of Laser Type: Several types of lasers can be used for Nevus of Ota birthmark removal, including Q-switched Nd:Yg (Yag) lasers and Q-switched Alexandrite lasers. The choice of laser depends on a range of factors, such as the patient's skin type, depth of pigmentation, and your provider’s expertise. Q-switched lasers such as the Medlite C6 are commonly used due to their ability to deliver high-energy, ultra short duration pulses, specifically targeting melanocytes in the skin. Most q-switched Nd:Yg lasers are appropriate for the treatment of this type of birthmark but because some are higher powered than others, there may be differences in how easily and how well they can remove the birthmark.
  • Procedure: During the laser treatment, you will be given protective eyewear to shield your eyes from the laser. We typically use corneal eye shields when treating Nevus of Ota birthmarks where the mark is on the eyelids or otherwise very close to the eye. This type of eye shield allows us to safely treat your birthmark all the way up to the lash line on the upper and lower lids. We use a small handpiece (typically 3mm spot size) to deliver powerful and precise laser energy to the affected areas. The laser light is absorbed by the excess melanin in the cells, causing the pigment to break down into smaller particles allowing the body to remove it.
  • Skin Cooling and Comfort Measures: To minimize discomfort, we may incorporate cooling mechanisms such as cold air blown on the skin and icing post treatment. There will be some discomfort during treating and this can be further lessened by arriving 30 – 45 minutes early for numbing cream (additional cost).
  • Multiple Sessions: Removal of a nevus of Ota birthmark requires multiple laser sessions because of the depth and layering of the pigmented cells. The number of treatments varies depending on factors such as the size, depth, and location of the birthmark, and the patient's response to the treatment. Sessions are typically scheduled several months apart to allow for the body to remove the excess pigment and for the skin to heal. Bruising and swelling are likely after each treatment for several days.
  • Post-Treatment Care: After each laser session, it is essential to follow your provider’s post-treatment instructions. This may include applying prescribed topical creams or ointments, avoiding excessive sun exposure, and practicing proper skincare to support the healing process.
  • Effectiveness: Laser treatment is an excellent method for removing shown significant success rates for Nevus of Ota birthmark removal. Although lasers can sometimes remove this type of birthmark completely, each birthmark is different from the next, so we set the expectation that significant reduction in the visibility of the birthmark or complete removal are both possibilities.
  • Risks: All laser treatments involve risk. This is why it is so important to find a practice that has the proper technology and depth of experience to achieve the result you are looking for. At Celibre, we have been treating Nevus of Ota birthmarks since the late
    2000’s and have performed thousands of successful treatments. The risk involved with laser treatment of a Nevus of Ota birthmark is that the energy used will be too high or not appropriate. A specific 1064 nm (Nd:Yg) wavelength of light is most commonly used and this is also the type of light that has the lowest incidence of side effect when treating this type of birthmark. If the wrong wavelength of light or improper settings are used, blistering, discoloration and other side effects are possible.

Q-switched laser treatment of Nevus of Ota birthmarks is not a new process. The procedure has been refined over the last several decades and is a well-accepted method for the birthmark removal process. Be sure that when considering your provider that you ask for and get access to before and after photos of previous patients that have been successfully treated at the practice. At Celibre, we have been treating Nevus of Ota birthmarks successfully since the late 2000’s and you can see before and after photos of our laser birthmark removal patients above.

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