Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev who was known for his distinctive birthmark has died aged 91.

According to Sky News, Gorbachev died on Tuesday (August 30) following a long illness in which he had been receiving treatment for at a hospital in Moscow.

As well as his political legacy, Gorbachev was also well known for his red blemish, which was on the right of his forehead, but what type of birthmark was it? Let’s take a look…

Pinocchio | New Trailer

Pinocchio | New Trailer

What was Mikhail Gorbachev’s birthmark?

The former Soviet leader was born with a port wine stain birthmark, according to a 1987 report by The Washington Post.

As explained by Healthline, there are two types of birthmark. Vascular, which is where blood vessels in a particular area do not form as normal, and pigmented, where a particular area has an excess of pigment cells. 

Port wine stains are a vascular type of birthmark as on the body, they are seen to appear as red or purple blemishes or patterns.

Gorbachev’s birthmark was situated on the right side of his forehead, with Web MD adding that the type of birthmark often appears on an individual’s head or neck, as well as arms and legs.

As per the NHS’s Great Ormond Street Hospital site, port wine birthmarks are developed in early pregnancy. It is due to a mutation that causes the blood vessels to change.

You can get the birthmark removed, but Gorbachev didn’t

President Gorbachev Speaks To Press
Photo by Ron Sachs/CNP/Getty Images

In most cases, port wine stains are thought to be harmless and do not require treatment. However, some opt to undergo cosmetic treatment, including laser, to help their coloring fade.

Port wine stains are permanent, meaning they will remain on the individual throughout their life, although they made fade slightly.

Occasionally those who have the birthmark may find over time that it may become thicker or darker in appearance.

In a 2013 interview with Vogue, the then 82-year-old’s birthmark was described to have “retreated” with age. Reflecting on the last time he spoke with Gorbachev, an Independent journalist Evgeny Lebedev reported his birthmark to be “a mere smudge in a face blotched by age.”

His birthmark became his most distinctive feature

Mikhail Gorbachev
Photo by David Caulkin/Keystone/Getty Images

ABC previously referred to Gorbachev as one of the most famous people to have a port wine stain. The Independent previously referred to the blemish as being the “world’s most famous birthmark.”

While it became a signature part of the figure’s public being, it also became a source of satire. During the run of the British satirical puppet series Spitting Image, his birthmark was redrawn as the hammer and sickle reflecting the flag of the Soviet Union.

Elsewhere in 2011, The Telegraph reported that the shape of Gorbachev’s birthmark had also drawn comparison’s to a small group of islands part of Russia known as Durak Aprel.

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