Hemangioma & Birthmarks

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Hemangioma on baby-- operation?!

March 2008

Our 10 month old baby has a deep hemangioma in a highly visible spot. We went to see a specialist at UCSF and she said we should consider treating the hemangioma with an operation sometime in the next 2 years ''before the baby is aware'' that people are repeatedly responding to the hemangioma. I would love to hear from someone who went ahead with the operation because, of course, it's hard to think about putting our baby through even a relatively simple operation. What were your considerations around age/time? What was your experience of the operation? How successful was it?
Want To Do The Right Thing

Our daughter had a fairly large Hemangioma on the top of her head and it was bright pink and raised. We had to be careful brushing or combing her hair as they are very vascular but we are really happy we let it be because over time it's flattened out and is barely visible. Our now 2 year old has a flat lightened colored Hemangioma but it's almost gone! I would suggest getting another opinion because as long as they are not causing any harm maybe you will be able to leave it and let it take it's course. I know we got tons of stares and people saying ''Oh my what is that, is your baby ok'', but in the end it's almost gone and no surgery had to be involved. Good luck! jennifer
There are cultures in the world where hemangiomas are highly valued , even considered lucky or auspicious. Alas, ours is not one. However, one reason I heard that some cultures value them is that they are so fleeting. My son had 7 strawberry hemangiomas as a baby. Two were quite large and prominent. Yes, he did get stares, and at the pool where they all showed, there were some children who acted scared or rude. Yet the hemangiomas were so lovely! One looked like a big kiss right on his chest; another looked like a button on his hand. The other five were smaller and drew less attention. Every doctor I talked to told me to wait before doing anything about them. Perhaps you've heard too--they tend to get bigger for 9-12 months, then start to get smaller, and most go away completely with no medical intervention. You can still see traces of the two biggest hemangiomas on my now 7-y-o son, but traces only. The other five are gone. When the two big ones did not completely disappear by age 7, I asked my son if he wanted to have them removed, and he insisted, absolutely insisted that he loved them and wanted to keep them for as long as possible. I love them too, really, and am glad we still see traces of them. Get a second opinion. And wait a while, too, to see if they resolve on their own. Carolyn
Our daughter had her hemangioma removed at 8 months. Hers was on her torso, but large (like an avocado) and also deep. The outer skin couldn't support the growth of the tumor and was ulcerating, causing pain, and we had to have her on antibiotics for fear of an infection while we tried many alternative therapies (like off label use of a growth hormone to speed up recovery of the ulcer), nothing worked so we opted for surgery. We were in New York at the time and went to the leading birthmark surgeon, Dr. Milton Waner. She had a 2 hour surgery, and it was one of the most difficult experiences waiting for her. But, it was the BEST thing we ever did for her too. She recovered so quickly (maybe a week at most -- children heal so quickly!). She has an almost invisible line along her torso (about 7 inches long). I highly recommend Dr. Waner. At the very least, find out who he recommends out here. If you have any questions, please email. susan
I know that many childrens' hemangiomas do in fact disappear over a period of several years. My son had one on his arm - fairly big and noticeably dark red- but it did in fact fade almost completely by the time he was 3 (now I can only see faintest outline if I'm really looking). On the other hand, my niece had a very large hemangioma on her face which covered much of her eyebrow and was pushing down a bit on her eyelid. Ultimately, my brother and his wife decided to have laser surgery done on it and they are VERY glad they did b/c subsequent docs have told them this one was quite deep and would not have gone away on its own. It was a very hard decision for them at the time, but made easier by the fact that it was starting to press down on her eyelid and the docs had concerns about that. They had to have a series of laser surgeries- maybe 6 or so altogether (this was in NYC with a doc renowned for doing laser on hemangiomas). My always-adorable niece is now 3 and doing great (pretty sure she doesnt remember the surgeries) and at this point, only a very faint outline is there. I wanted to throw in the 2 cents from a perspective of a child whose hemangioma would not have just faded away. Good luck with your decision! Trish

4-month-old has strawberry hemangiona on her face

Oct 2007

Our 4 month old baby daughter has a strawberry hemangiona on her face, about one inch wide and quite puffy. our periatrician assures us that there is nothing to worry about, that it will go away, and there is no treatment for it. when i look up ''hemangiona'' it seems that statistics say it could take up to ten years for it to go away. that worries me. if anyone reading this has had experience with their child having a strawberry heangiona, i would love to hear about how long it lasted etc. thank you very much. fd

My daughter had one too - it was a small one (bigger than a dime, smaller than a nickel) and it was on her head, near the crown. It's now pretty covered by hair as she is 18 mos, but it is also almost gone! It's no longer pronounced/puffy, just slightly red an the size of a large mole. anon
My son (now almost 4) has a hemanginoma. We were upset at first because it was so large and he was so small! It popped up when he was just a few weeks, and I'll bet your daughters at 4 months is probably just growing before your eyes and it can be quite upsetting. There is a highly regarded specialist at UCSF, I don't recall her name but my dermatologist Dr Glogau in SF recommended her. My pediatrition did as well. She gave my son a series of injections to stop the growth and help flatten it out. This was covered by insurance.

It can be quite frightening and upsetting but please rest assured that they do fade, and they do go away. My son is almost 4 now and we LOVE his spot! His face has grown and matured and it's nearly gone but we just see it as part of him and a little reminder of his infancy. I think we will be truly sad when the spot is completely gone because we think it is just so cute like the rest of him.

When his sister showed up we joked with him - hey? where's her spot? and my husband and I have found various discolorations on ourselves to point out, see - Mama has a spot on her tummy, Daddy has a spot on his leg. Please know however, that our lightheartedness about the whole think was a slow transition over the last few years. But you will adjust as the spot fades and your child grows. I'd check into finding that specialist at UCSF and start getting some treatments early on. It will get better with time.

My daughter, now 4, had a hemangioma on her forehead. It appeared maybe a month or so after her birth, can't remember exactly when. About the size of a pea, bright red, somewhat raised. It peaked at about 6 months as I recall, and was gone by the time she was about a year old. The only evidence of its existence now is in her baby pictures. anon
Our daughter was born with a hemangioma similar to the one you describe. She just turned one, and it has slowly faded over the year to almost nothing. Your baby's will probably do the same. Try not worry!! I know that's easier said than done. diana
My 11-month old daughter has had one on her ear since birth (they even re-tested her hearing to make sure it wasn't something hearing-related). It grew redder and puffier in her first few months of life, and we were very worried. Her pediatrician told us it would likely go away within a few years. It is now hardly noticeable! The puffiness is gone, and it has faded quite a bit. I really think it will be completely unnoticeable in another year. esther
My son had seven, count 'em, seven hemangiomas as a baby. They ranged in size and puffiness, and were scattered across his body. The most prominent ones were on his chest and on his wrist. He is now seven years old, and four of them are completely gone, while three are quite faded. Your doctor is right, most hemangiomas fade on their own within a few years. If they don't and it's a problem for you or your daughter, there are laser treatments that will take them away. But give them time to resolve on their own. And don't be surprised if you find yourself missing them as they fade and start to go away. There are cultures that consider hemaniomas to be quite lucky markings because they are so fleeting. Try to see your daughter's that way and it will be. another mom
Our daughter has a hemangioma of about that size, originally puffy or pillowy, on her chest... she's now six, and while it's flattened to a significant degree, it's still quite visible. We've not really investigated options for dealing with it, but it's not as visible as one on the face would be, and she seems fine with it for now. Dad
My daughter was born with two hemangioma: one on her neck (one inch by one inch) and one very small one near her anus. She is nearly three and the one on her neck is quite faded. The one on her bum looks the same. During infancy, the hemangioma were puffy and red and looked like they were fragile enough to bleed when you touched them (but never did). Your pediatrician gave you good advice. They do fade with time. Greta
My daughter, now 5, had a hemangioma on her lower lip. At first we too received the standard advice--wait. I am pretty conservative medically so this seemed fine to me. When my daughter was around 1 to 1.5 yrs old we took her to Dr Frieden at UCSF. You will see from the archives that she is the expert in the Bay Area and we are lucky to have her here. She was able to tell us at that appointment that my daughter would definitely require surgery to remove the hemangioma. She wanted us to wait until the hemangioma had begun to resolve on its own and until she was older than 2. We had the surgery at UCSF last year when my daughter was 4. We felt we had the best possible care and although it was harrowing everything worked out very well. At UCSF--if Dr. Frieden recommends it--you can take your child to the vascular anomalies clinic where specialists from a large variety of fields evaluate your child and come up with a course of action. So I guess the main point I would emphasize here is that Dr. Frieden will be able to tell you what the best course of action is. Of course, this will depend on the case. I know of many in which the hemangioma did resolve completely on its own.

To me the social/psychological ramifications are as important as the medical. Until past the age of 3 NOT A SINGLE CHILD ever teased or said a mean word to my child. She went to daycare and pre-school had plenty of friends; she is exremely outgoing and socially confident (much more so than her parents!)

BUT the problem was the adults. Almost every single day an adult would ask me in front of her ''what happened to her?'' ''What's wrong with her'' etc. And all this for a birthmark. My husband and I were often enraged and tried to figure out ways to forestall comments but this was not always possible. Also, many well meaning people in stores for example would ask my daughter ''did you fall down?'' she would just be confused until she was mature enough to answer. It was just incredible to me since no one would walk up to an adult they don't know and ask ''what's wrong with you?'' etc.

A little after the age of three I noticed some children would ask my daughter about it. They were kids in parks etc. not kids at her school. But there were always friendly and simply curious. They never teased. Still I wish we had had the surgery maybe 1 year to 6 months earlier for this reason. anon

10 week old daughter has two hemangiomas on her face

July 2005

Does anyone know of a good pediatric dermatologist in the East Bay? My 10 week old daughter has two hemangiomas on her face. I would like to get a second opinion about possible treatment options as I have been told to let them grow bigger for a year and hope that they then fade away. Anyone have experience with a child with this vascular birthmark?

Our 15 mo. old daughter was born with a 4 mm. hemangioma that has not grown nor diminished, as predicted. It is inside her hairline so we have felt no pressure to alter it. Just before she turned one, it became a bit flaky, a few white flecks and the ped. thought this a sign that it would go away. Alas- she still has it. No advice for you, just our situation... a little advice, afterall: I would wait to see what happens within her first year. christina

13-month-old girl developed a hemangioma on her cheek

May 2003

Hi We are parents of 13 months twin girls. Unfortunately, one of our daughter's developed a hemangioma on the left side of her cheek at three weeks old. We have been lucky enough to have the *best* care availble. Dr Freiden at UCSF and now we see Dr. Reinisch in LA. We live in Berkeley but will go LA for a follow up surgery in May. I would like to meet other families who are experincing or have experienced Hemangioma - just to talk:). anon

When I was 14 mo. old, I had a very large hemagioma removed surgically; it was so large my parents had to authorize for pictures to be published in a medical journal. They removed a hernia in my belly button at the same time. All went well I guess...I don't remember a thing. I have a scar on my left side but always wore bikinis anyway. I am 42 now & married with 2 healthy kids. Jenny
My 14 month old daughter also has hemangioma, but on her left eyelid. And we also see Dr. Frieden at UCSF. It has stopped growing after using a steriodal ointment and so have elected not to do surgery at this time. But it's an option we'd like to keep open if the hemangioma does not recede. I don't want it to affect her self-esteem as she gets older. I'd love to talk more. Frances
My son has several hemangiomas, two of them significant, but on the advice of his doctor we did not seek treatment for them. Rather, we are letting them resolve on their own. Now that he is two-and-a-half, we can really see them going away. I'm not sure how long it will take for them to disappear completely. But it's quite different in the second year to watch them go away rather than get bigger as was the case in his first year. You didn't say what treatment you are getting, but I hope it is working. Carolyn
My almost 7 month old daughter also has a hemangioma on her left cheek, it is close to her eye, and it started too when she was about 3 weeks old. We also have been seeing Dr. Frieden at UCSF, who recommended just to watch it. The hemangioma is now in the latent phase. We will see if there is need for surgery in about 6 months to a year. I also live in Berkeley, and would like to talk to other parents whose children have Hemangiomas. arohena
My son saw Dr. Frieden several times. He now is nearly 3 and his hemangioma - once bright red, very raised and the size of a half- dollar coin (above his right eyebrow) is now barely noticeable. I, too, was like you, at first, research and constant dermatologist visits - even consultations w/a pediatric plastic surgeon.

In fact, I believe my research came up w/the physician you're seeing in LA. I guess I probably sound like a broken record to you (as other moms and my umpteen physician's sounded to me) - it will go away, not disappear.

I was, probably like you, obsessed w/his hemangioma. I thought it would be disfiguring and he would be picked on. Now he barely gets any comments and he only very recently started noticing it himself.

Today his hemangioma is 70% involuted, more than 50% skin color (vs. deep, deep red) and if I close my eyes and rub my fingers across it, I can't tell there's any skin disruption. Terry

Lightening a birthmark

July 2003

Can anyone recommend anything to lighten a brown birthmark? Thank you

I have a friend who had it removed by laser. I assume a dermatologist could give you information about all the latest techniques... Anon
In the latest issue of Parents Magazine there is an article about how dermatologists can really lighten up very disfiguring birthmarks so that they are much less noticible. I can't remember if they used laser or what. You can view the magazine at your local library and read that article. Sometimes you can find free copies at your pediatrician's office or other places where little kids frequent. Best Regards! Tiffany

15 month old son has a strawberry mark on his forehead

September 2001

My 15 month old son has a hemangioma or strawberry mark on his forehead. It's the size of a half-dollar coin. I am doing research on various options, including steroid injections and/or laser surgery. His current pediatric dermatologist is highly regarded, yet she's very conservative in her approach to treating his hemangioma. I am seeking surgeons who have had great success with removing hemangiomas on children with little or no scarring. If at all possible, I would like to consult with a surgeon who is affiliated with UCSF or Stanford, but am more interested in a surgeon who has specific experience with these kinds of cases. Thanks in advance for any leads. Terry

I don't have a recommendation of a dermatologist, but I thought I would mention that I had a similar, very red and obvious birthmark on my forehead at birth. My pediatrician didn't want to do surgery, but instead ran a piece of dry ice across it several times. Apparently it does something to the blood vessels. It has slowly been disappearing ever since, and now, as an adult (and for a long time--since back in gradeschool) is barely noticeable. Just a thought. Ann
My daughter has a Port Wine Stain and we had it treated while she was very young through Ilona Friedan at UCSF. She is highly regarded and conducts research as well as laser treatments for children. Strawberry birthmarks are by nature temporary, if I recall correctly, and will resolve themselves eventually. Permanent birthmarks such as Port Wine Stains will not. My daughter still has her birthmark, although it is less large and dark as it was at birth. Overall, I would say that parental anxiety over the impact of this condition upon of our children may outweigh the reality. Especially in the Bay Area where it seems society is a bit more enlightened about individual differences.

Our daughter is well adjusted, popular at school, and probably stronger than she would be otherwise. On the other hand I understand the desire to want to do all that you can to make life easier for your child, we had the same approach. However, the actual treatments can be quite stressful for the child, something we weren't prepared for really, and to this day we wonder whether they had a more negative impact on our child than the birthmark itself. The doctors insisted that we had to do this before there was any melanin build up so we went with the program. Since putting children under anesthesia is not recommended at younger ages, she was awake, strapped down and blindfolded during treatment. As you can imagine it was quite awful and absolutely frightening for her. I would be happy to discuss this in further detail with you, and talk about the social, medical and other issues that we experienced.

For several years I have been a patient of Dr Julie Billings, dermatologist, who works out of the Summit Medical Center buildings in Oakland. She's thorough, knowledgable, informative. Jill
I missed the posting for a red birthmark, I just saw the response. I highly recommend Dr. Iona Frieden at UCSF. She is a pediatric dermatologist. My daughter has a small strawberry hemangioma, which I was extremely worried about. The doctor relieved all of my fears and told us that 70% go away on their own by age 5, 90% by age 9. I do know a lot about these birthmarks feel free to e-mail me. Sharon