New options for childhood birthmarks?

January 18, 2010 9:47:29 AM PST
Vascular birthmarks, including hemangiomas and other malformations, occur in roughly 10 percent of births, which adds up to about 400,000 babies every year in the United States. Hemangiomas are the most common form of benign tumors affecting infants. They affect five-times more girls than boys and occur more often in individuals with lighter skin. Most hemangiomas (80 percent) are found on the face and neck. Many times, they are not visible at birth but appear after a child turns one month old. It is believed hemangiomas are a result of cells from the placenta that travel to the baby where they stay and grow. There are different degrees of hemangiomas. Superficial ones affect only the upper layer of the skin. Deep hemangiomas are those that form a lump on the skin. Compound hemangiomas are both superficial and deep. Sometimes, hemangiomas may interfere with vision, breathing, hearing or eating, or can be life-threatening. Hemangiomas also don't always occur on the outside of the body. If an individual has more than six or seven external hemangiomas, doctors perform an exam to look for internal ones.

DON'T WAIT, TAKE ACTION: Often, parents are given the advice, "Leave it alone; it will go away." However, as treatments are continually advancing, this is becoming an unacceptable practice. Hemangiomas grow for up to 12 months and then start to regress; however, that regression can be slow for some patients. Even after regressing, hemangiomas typically still aren't cosmetically acceptable for many patients.

TREATMENT: There are several ways hemangiomas can be treated. During its growing phase, patients may be prescribed steroids to help slow down the growth of the hemangioma. They can be removed surgically, but many doctors opt for laser treatments. The pulsed dye laser (PDL) is used to treat superficial components and reduce redness. It is sometimes used in combination with other treatments. Other types of lasers that are used include the Nd:YAG for treating deep hemangiomas such as in the oral cavity and larynx and the C02 or Erbium lasers for treating scar tissue and improving skin texture.

? For More Information, Contact:

Roper St. Francis Healthcare Physician Referral
Charleston, SC
(800) 863-CARE (2273)


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