When is a Birthmark Cause for Concern?

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My new daughter has a tiny little red dot under her nose, right between her nostrils. She's had it since she was born (she is now six weeks old). I'm assuming that, if it doesn't go away, it will be a birthmark. This mark is small and I am not overly concerned about it, but I'm going to keep my eye on it anyway. Many children are born with what we call birthmarks, that are spots on the skin that are darker or more red than the rest of the skin. But, sometimes, as noted in a recent New York Times article, a birthmark is more than a birthmark, and sometimes it's a lot bigger or more present than we were expecting. These are known as hemangiomas, which are actually tumors--non-cancerous, thankfully, created by abnormal blood vessels.

Whether or not the hemangioma will shrink over time, or go away at all, is unable to be determined. Many parents are choosing to have surgery for children with hemangiomas rather than play the wait-and-see game. Surgery can be phenomenally expensive, as you can imagine, but that can seem like peanuts to parents with children who have a social stigma because of an unusual birthmark in an obvious place, like the face. Naturally most insurance companies refuse to provide coverage for procedures to remove the tumor or correct the situation as they consider such surgeries to be cosmetic.

Thankfully, a growing number of surgeons willing to perform the procedures for little to no money. Additionally, there are resources available to parents now such as the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation and the Vascular Birthmark Institute of New York to help parents consider their options and make the best choice for their family. While parents will love their children no matter their appearance, they are concerned about quality of life issues for their kids. There is a child at my son's daycare who has an unusual purple birthmark on her face. It's actually really beautiful, which may seem strange to say but is very true. I first noticed it when she started attending the daycare, but, honestly, I see her every day and didn't even think about it until I read the article in the NY Times. I got used to seeing it just as I assume everyone else did, but I would totally understand if the child's parents sought some sort of medical procedure. All this aside, when a child is born with any sort of birthmark the parents should watch it and even consider consulting with a dermatologist to ensure the mark is benign and continues to be.

What do you think? Should parents be opting for such surgeries for their young kids, or should they wait until the children are older to see what happens?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.