Hemangiomas occur from an abnormal buildup of blood vessels in the skin or internal organs. Hemangiomas appear as strawberry-colored areas on the body and they vary in size from tiny blebs to large and multiple tumor-like growths. Hemangiomas appear at birth and they can also form in the first several months of life. Most hemangiomas resolve on their own and never need treatment. Hemangiomas require treatment if they obstruct vision, hearing, breathing, eating or any other body function.
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According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, laser surgery can stop the growth of superficial hemangiomas, although deeper portions may still persist and grow. The laser shrinks the vessels and makes the red area less noticeable. Repeated treatments can almost completely remove superficial hemangiomas if the treatment begins when it’s first diagnosed. According to MayoClinic.com, the risks for laser surgery include pain, infection, bleeding, scarring and changes in skin color.
Corticosteroids treat large cavernous hemangiomas or mixed hemangiomas, reports Medline Plus. Cavernous hemangiomas develop deeper in the skin and mixed hemangiomas refer to hemangiomas that appear superficially and also have portions that grow deeper. Intralesional corticosteroid injections treat smaller hemangiomas that don’t appear on the face area, notes the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Larger hemangiomas require oral steroids instead of injections. Treatment with oral corticosteroids requires long-term or repeated usage to prevent re-growth. The oral corticosteroid dosages are tapered down and eventually stopped once the hemangioma shows signs of regression.
Alfa-interferon treats problematic or life-threatening hemangiomas and also ones that do not respond to steroids, reports the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. However, alfa-interferon causes spastic dysplegia, or a delay in walking, when it’s used in children.
According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, surgery treats life-threatening or disfiguring hemangiomas. Hemangiomas require surgery when they appear on the face area and do not reduce in size; they don’t show signs of shrinkage after a few years and won’t respond to the most aggressive therapy, such as corticosteroid use and laser surgery; or they are rapidly grow and interfere with breathing, feeding or other vital functions.