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Hemangioma - Basic definitions

There are basically three types of hemangioma - each having a different prognosis for the child. All are vascular malformations. Joey had two of the three. The one he did not have was the port wine stain.

The port wine stain is generally smooth, but could be slightly raised. It generally starts out at birth, and darkens as the child grows, but it does not really grow. Port Wine Stains can be treated with laser surgery by zapping the capillaries.

The red, raised raspberry birth mark-type hemangioma are present at birth. They are raised up and can even be sac-like. Joey had three of them. Two on his back and one on his side. Over the first couple of years, these, left untreated, will go away by themselves. They will both flatten and turn fleshy colored. If I look hard enough now, I can find Joey's three hemangioma, but I have to look really hard for a texture, and not for any red or raised mark.

The last kind is the one that can be very serious. It is called a subcutaneous, cavernous, hemangioma. These are not present - or only slightly present - at birth, but begin to grow shortly after. It will begin by looking like a swelling, and then the swelling will discolor. They grow to the inside as well as to the outside and can be quite disabling. Surgical removal can be expertly done, and it can still grow back. These are often treated with steroids to halt or slow the growth, and then many times are surgically removed.

Joey had a subcutaneous hemangioma over his spine. We came out exceptionally lucky on that one. It was watched closely, but turned out to be one of the few cavernous types that simply did not grow. Eventually, the body resorbed it. He was either 7 or 8 years old when it was finally declared gone. However, there still remains a lump-looking thing on his spine. The vertebrae over which the hemangioma rested, because of the engorgement of blood in that area, grew larger than the others. It does not seem to affect him, and over time we suspect that the others will catch up.

Also, contact the National Vascular Malformation Foundation at 313-274-1243.

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