Birthmarks in the form of hemangioamas are rather difficult to treat since these are vascular in nature. This means that hemangioamas have an underlying blood supply in the form of blood vessels. A hemangioama is essentially a benign tumor that creates a raised, lump-like formation on the skin. Hemangioamas may or may not increase in size with age. However, they cannot be neglected since they can lead to many complications. Treatment options for such birthmarks include:
This treatment can be interpreted as a less potent form of chemotherapy used among cancer patients. Since hemangiomas have a tendency to grow, their development can be arrested using strong steroidal drugs. This may not lead to complete eradication of the hemangioma, but it helps to arrest its proliferation to a large extent, for some time. Systemic and oral steroidal drugs can be used for this purpose. Topical steroidal creams are also used for reducing the appearance of the hemangioama.
However, the high potency of these drugs and the need to treat hemangiomas in young children puts forth a major problem--the risk of side-effects. Newborns and toddlers aren't recommended for this treatment option. Sometimes steroidal treatment is used as a precursory treatment before other treatment options can be explored, to ensure that the birthmark doesn’t spread in the intervening period.
Laser treatment has a more comprehensive approach. Here, the goal is to remove the birthmark holistically, i.e. remove the lesion from the surface and the underlying tumorous growth. Sometimes, hemangiomas lead to the development of broken blood vessels that are called telangiectasias. The use of penetrative lasers ensures that the underlying tissues are heated and the swelling of the blood vessels is also cured. The heat also eradicates the developing tumor.
Laser treatment for such birthmarks is usually done in a number of sessions. The use of lasers like Nd:YAG also aids the aesthetic improvement at the site of treatment. The intense heating promotes the formation of new connective tissue and improves blood circulation. Many times, cosmetically-inclined laser treatments like CO2 or Erbium resurfacing are combined to ensure that no trace of such birthmarks is retained.
The appropriate time for surgery is determined in accordance with the state of the hemangioama, the age and overall health of the child. Surgery may not be recommended for sensitive areas like hemangioamas near the eyes. Here, laser or steroidal treatment is used and surgery is delayed until the hemangioama withdraws from the vascular or nerve supply of the eye. However, in certain cases, a surgical intervention might be the only option. This happens when the hemangioama is not treated at the appropriate time, allowing it to induce critical problems like airway obstruction.
Surgeries for hemangioamas ensure that the benign tumor is comprehensively removed and aesthetics of the overlying skin are significantly improved. Many parents choose to have scar-revision surgeries or laser treatments after a hemangioama surgery to ensure that the superficial trace of the hemangioama is completely eradicated. Though surgeries are an invasive treatment option and are associated with more potential risks than other alternatives, they are reputed to provide wholesome relief from birthmarks.