A Psychological Profile of Children With Hemangiomas and Their Families

Edwin F. Williams III, MD; Marcelo Hochman, MD; Bret J. Rodgers, MD; David Brockbank, BA; Linda Shannon, MS; Samuel M. Lam, MD

Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2003;5:229-234.

Objective To assess the psychosocial impact of hemangiomas and their treatment on children with the disease and their families. 
From the Divisions of Otolaryngology (Drs Williams and Lam) and Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery (Dr Williams), the Department of Surgery (Mr Brockbank), Albany Medical College, and the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation (Ms Shannon), Albany, NY; the Williams Center for Facial Plastic Surgery, Latham, NY (Dr Williams); The Facial Surgery Center, Charleston, SC (Dr Hochman); the Rodgers Center for Facial Plastic Surgery, Boise, Idaho (Dr Rodgers); and Lam Facial Plastic Surgery Center, Dallas, Tex (Dr Lam).

Design Thirty-nine children who were treated for hemangiomas were examined by a questionnaire that addressed the emotional attitudes of the parent and child toward the disease and the related treatment. 

Setting Two private ambulatory surgery centers (in Latham and Charleston). 

Results Overall, the survey found a negative effect on the child’s family, with considerable fear caused in part by adverse public commentary or attitudes–which was ameliorated by education from the primary care provider and specialist. However, the family’s perception was that the child was not deeply affected by his or her condition and that treatment (laser, intralesional corticosteroids, oral corticosteroids, surgery, or a combination) did not change the child’s emotional response to the disease. However, most parents observed that their child was too young to appreciate his or her malady. 

Conclusion Given earlier intervention for children with late-involuting hemangiomas and the advent of more effective therapies, our survey did not seem to indicate that the children experienced significant emotional trauma from their condition; nevertheless, their families experienced appreciable emotional and psychological distress.