What is a hemangioma?
Hemangiomas are benign blood vessel tumors that occur in childhood. The most common type of hemangioma is the “infantile” version (referred to sometimes as “strawberry mark”). Children are not born with these tumors typically. They appear in the first few days to weeks of life as a faint red or pink blemish that can rapidly grow into a larger mass. Growth will peak at around 12 months of age and plateau thereafter.
What are options for hemangioma treatment?
Most hemangiomas, being of the “infantile” variant, require no specific intervention. Over time, the hemangioma will initially increase in size, then plateau, and continue on to involution. Often, the entire hemangioma will disappear at the end of this process with no residual signs that it ever was there. Sometimes, hemangiomas may require treatment. This is true of large hemangiomas, those that cause visible disfigurement, ones that have failed to involute completely, or those that can obstruct vital functions such as vision or breathing. In these cases, treatment can take the form of medication or surgery.
Currently, medical treatment has taken a big leap forward with the discovery of propranolol for hemangiomas. Propranolol is a blood pressure lowering medication used all over the world and for many decades in adults. It is known as a beta-receptor blocker (or, a beta-blocker). In 2008, it was discovered that children with hemangiomas that were incidentally treated with the medication demonstrated sudden improvement in the appearance of the birthmarks. Although it will not work in all hemangiomas, there does seem to be an excellent response rate. It is important to understand that the medication will not necessarily shrink the hemangioma, but it will help stop its growth during the “proliferative” phase within the first year of life. Thereafter, the hemangioma will continue to involute as it normally does. The medication can be started as early as one month of age when necessary. Alternatives to propranolol include oral steroids, steroid injections, or a chemotherapeutic agent (ie, vincristine) for aggressive and resilient types.
Why choose Dr Panossian
- He received his medical education at Tufts University School of Medicine.
- Graduated at the top of his class at UCLA, receiving Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude honors.
- Was accepted into an elite combined general surgery and plastic surgery residency at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
- Completed subspecialty training in craniofacial surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and Harvard Medical School.
- Was mentored by Dr. Ron Zuker in the practice of facial paralysis reconstruction. This prestigious fellowship position was available to only one surgeon in the United States.
- Is affiliated with various charitable and educational organizations, including Operation Smile and Mending Kids.
- Is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the highly selective American Association of Plastic Surgeons, reserved for only a select group of individuals nationally who have demonstrated excellence in academic plastic surgery.
- Holds memberships in several other professional societies including the American College of Surgeons and the American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery.
- He serves on the Board of Directors for Mending Kids and the Gondobay Manga Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the improvement of lives in Sierra Leone.
- Has been nominated by his peers annually since 2012 as a “Super Doctor.”
- Served as an expert medical consultant and appeared on The Doctors, Grey’s Anatomy, and Nip/Tuck.
- Has been featured as “Top Doctor” in US News and World Report, Pasadena Magazine, and Los Angeles Magazine.
Last modified by Dr. Andre Panossian