Some babies are born with a raised red birthmark, or the birthmark develops during the first few weeks of life. This is called a hemangioma, which is a non-cancerous form of a tumor involving the blood vessels. While a hemangioma can grow in size during infancy, they usually subside and decrease in size on their own as a child grows older. However, there are some cases where a large hemangioma needs to be surgically removed due to its size, location, or health complications it may cause. If your child's doctor has recommended that he or she have his or her hemangioma surgically removed, continue reading to learn more about what to expect.
If your child is born with one or more hemangiomas or develops one during the first weeks of life, your infant's pediatrician will closely monitor it. If the hemangioma grows rapidly or shows signs of negatively affecting your child's breathing, vision, hearing, feeding, or is continually bleeding, you will be referred to a vascular anomalies specialist. The vascular anomalies specialist will conduct a thorough exam and order any testing that may be needed. If surgery is found to be the best course of treatment, it will be scheduled for as soon as possible.
Due to the nature of hemangioma surgery and the young age of most patients, general anesthesia is used. It can be scary for parents to know that their young child will be under general anesthesia, but you can rest assured that your child will be under the care of an experienced pediatric anesthesiologist.
Your child's surgeon will discuss everything you need to know to to help ensure your child for general anesthesia prior to surgery. Make sure that you pay close attention and follow all directions so the surgery can be performed as scheduled.
After your child's hemangioma is successfully removed, he or she will most likely spend at least one night in the hospital for observation as the anesthetics wear off. The surgery site will be cleaned and dressed; your child's doctors and nurses will provide you with information about caring for the surgery site at home.
Your child may experience some discomfort as the surgery site heals, but using infant over-the-counter pain relieving medications can help. As a parent, you will need to watch for signs of post-surgical complications, such as fever, redness or pus around the surgical site, or excessive fussiness that may mean that your child is in pain. For more information about hemangioma surgery, contact a doctor near you.