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Hemangiomas of the Face: How to Treat Them

By HERWriter
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Her daughter was born with a small blister, a hemangioma, on her lower lip that grew larger as the girl got older. Visits to doctors proved fruitless as each indicated that there was nothing that could be done and told her it would fade on its own.

One doctor indicated that if steroids had been used on the hemangioma when the daughter was younger, it might have stopped the blister’s growth.

Devastated and full of guilt that her delay in treatment had doomed her daughter to a future with a disfigured lip, she swore to herself and God that if she could find someone to fix the deformity, she would devote herself to keeping the same experience from happening to other children and parents.

A doctor did appear and grant her prayer. Dr. Milton Waner performed a special surgery to remove the lip hemangioma, which by this time had become larger than a golf ball on the 18 month old’s lip. Dr. Linda Rozell-Shannon made good on her promise and started the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation which is available to link the 40,000 patients who are born each ear with vascular related birth defects to knowledgeable doctors, written resources and a supportive discussion forum. The website acts to guide others who will do anything to help themselves or their children regain the self confidence and self esteem lost from years of cruel, thoughtless statements from others.

What is a hemangioma?

A hemangioma is an excess growth of blood vessels, usually veins and capillaries, and tissue. They can occur anywhere on the body, though facial hemangiomas occur 30% of the time. Hemangiomas are classified as superficial (strawberry hemangiomas), combined or deep (cavernous hemangiomas). They are more common in females, white infants and those babies born prematurely. Over 90% of hemangiomas resolve (called involution) by the time a child is nine years old but for those that do not or are creating other risks, there are interventions that may help.

Facial hemangiomas are a source of concern for parents due to their appearance and because of the psycho-social strain children experience.

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What I really like about Linda Shannon's vascular birthmark site is that parents can send photos to experts and find additional advice even if their own pediatrician thinks they should just "watch and wait". Doctors such as yourself should be consulted to come up with an action plan on what to do if the vascular defect does not show signs of resolving within an acceptable time frame.

November 24, 2009 - 8:36am
EmpowHER Guest

Thanks for highlighting this important condition. Many parents are often told to "watch and wait" when in fact, many treatments if given early can often minimize the need for future interventions. While some doctors have seen small or less visible hemangiomas resolve on their own, hemangiomas are unique in that no two are ever quite alike, and we cannot predict which ones will need treatment and which ones can be observed. Linda Shannon who has advocated that all children with vascular birthmarksat the 4-week check up be seen by a specialist, or as soon as they are detected.

Dr. Gregory Levitin

November 23, 2009 - 1:57pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.