Authors Pamela M. Crawford, MD, R. Gregory Lande, DO and Bonnie J. Ramsey, MD Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America – Vascular Birthmarks of the Head and Neck, Volume 9, Number 4, November 2001
“The presence of vascular birthmarks may stir many passions in the new parent. The emotions are sometimes traceable to irrational beliefs when parents silently blame themselves for their child’s misfortune. Most parents are relieved when the physician absolves their guilt by providing a medical cause for vascular birthmarks. In other cases, anxiety, anger, and blame are unrelenting and like a whirlpool, threaten to drag the entire family down. One factor that may contribute to the downward spiral are competing, nonmedical explanations, for the presence of birthmarks.”
Predicting a child’s reaction to medical treatment, including surgery, requires a consideration of the child’s age, presence of psychiatric pathology, the child’s experience with prior illness or injury, parent’s contributions, and the degree of presurgical preparation.
“Children up to two years old will tolerate surgery if they perceive that their caretaker is calm, accepting and nurturing.” Life between the ages of 3 and 6 is when “the child learns control but may develop shame and doubt if not handled well…continues to become more assertive but may be too forceful, leading to guilt feelings.” Age 6 to 12 in school is when “children must deal with demands or risk a sense of inferiority”.
These “important milestones of development help set timelines for intervention-preferably before age 3 years (when a sense of self develops) and definitely by age 5 to 6 years (school age).”
The authors state that some studies indicate that “unattractive children are disadvantaged in society, the facially disfigured even more so…”
Other Parental Resources
- The Facial Surgery Center
- Port Wine Stains
- Sturge Weber Foundation
- National Organization of Vascular Anomalies
- Medical University of South Carolina Children’s Hospital
- The Hemangioma Treatment Foundation
- Roper St. Francis
Recommended Reading for you and Child
- Children’s Book, Sam’s Birthmark, Author Martha Griffin – a story about a boy with a birthmark and how every child is unique and special in their own way. Through illustrations and easy to understand words, Sam s Birthmark shows that each of us has something about us that makes us one-of-kind. Sam s Birthmark is a great teaching tool to have this conversation with children starting at an early age.
- Children’s Book, Buddy Boobys Birthmark, Children’s Book, Painted Keepsakes: A Book about Birthmarks, Author Blithe Payne – The straightforward book started with a little girl pointing an unassuming finger at another girl’s face, and asking, “What’s that mark on you?”.
- Children’s Book, Annabelle’s Birthmark, Authors Bielli Adele and Annie Gallion
- Children’s Book, Frankie Froggy and The Butterfly Birthmark , Author Iris Williams deals with bullying and issues with children with “different” faces from a child’s point of view.
- Children’s Book, The Surgery Book: For Kids, Author Shivani Bhatia, MD takes a potentially scary experience and turns it into a fun adventure. The story, complete with great illustrations, is a wonderful way to introduce surgery to children. A must read for any young child who needs an operation.
- Children’s Book, Children’s Book About Surgery: A Kids Picture Book About Surgery With Photos and Fun Facts, Author Abigail Tyler – This easy reading picture book for children contains interesting facts about having surgery and is written for children ages 4 to 10. It contains a variety of information on common kinds of surgery.
- Children’s Book– I’m Like You, You’re Like Me, Author Cindy Gainer – A child’s book about understanding and celebrating each other. Simple words and lush illustrations draw children into this gentle story of discovery, acceptance, and affirmation.
- Parents’ Book- Children With Facial Difference: A Parents’ Guide, Author Hope Charkins
- Kids’ Health for Kids website Website for children and parents about Hemangiomas