Skin Deep

hemangiomaI recently read a post by a mom who wrote about getting her toddler daughter plastic surgery. The headline grabbed me so I was curious to see just what kind of surgery it was. I live in Los Angeles, so I thought “it’s finally happened – some crazy parent got her baby a nose job.” But when I saw the surgery was to remove a hemangioma, I was 100% in favor of this Mom’s decision.

A hemangioma is (to put it simply) a blood vessel tumor. They usually appear on babies within weeks of birth and tend to
resolve on their own – but it can sometimes take ten years for one to go away completely. Females are three to five times more likely to develop them, and 80% of hemangiomas are located on the face or neck. They are very scary-looking but they are technically benign (although a hemangioma on an internal organ can lead to a multitude of complications). I say technically because, quite frankly, they are ugly and since they are often located in extremely visible areas, they can lead to psychological difficulties.

My daughter Madeline developed a hemangioma when she was six weeks old. I remember noticing it and grabbing a nurse to ask about it (she was still in the NICU at the time). The nurse was kind and explained that it was harmless, and I remember her saying specifically that Maddie was “lucky” because her hemangioma was on her back and not her face. The hemangioma on Maddie’s left shoulder blade grew bigger and bigger, and even though it never bothered her, I was a bit scared of it. It just seemed so big and angry – I used to have nightmares that it would burst. But her pediatrician told me it was nothing to worry about.

If Madeline’s hemangioma had been on her face, neck, or scalp, I wouldn’t have hesitated for one second to have it removed. While it may not have been a threat to her physically, it absolutely would have been the first thing people saw when they looked at her – not her beautiful blue eyes or wide open smile. It would have done a number on her self-esteem, and kids have plenty of other things that can damage that – why wouldn’t a parent do their best to remove unnecessary challenges their children might face? It may only be a “cosmetic” issue on the surface, but it truly is much more than that.

I applaud this mother for making the decision to have the hemangioma removed. Sure, the hemangioma likely would have gone away eventually on its own, but the damage would have already been done. Surgery can be a scary thing, but in a case like this, I definitely think it was worth it.

If this was your child, would you have done the same?


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