The team of pediatric specialists at the North Carolina Cleft and Craniofacial Center provide comprehensive care for children with hemangioma and other craniofacial differences. A hemangioma, made up of extra blood vessels in the skin, typically appears at birth or during a child’s first few weeks and looks like a red birthmark. Hemangiomas most commonly appear on the head, neck and face, grow rapidly during a baby’s first few months, and usually fade over time.

Our board-certified medical professionals will carefully monitor your child’s hemangioma to determine if treatment is necessary.

The cause for hemangiomas is unknown, although they are more likely to occur in girls than boys and are associated with premature birth, low birth weight, and twin pregnancy. A hemangioma typically starts as a red mark and grows into a spongy bump or lesion. Different types of hemangiomas have varying growth rates and potential risks. After a rest phase, hemangiomas typically shrink gradually, and over time, some can disappear completely.

The major types of hemangiomas are:

  • Superficial hemangiomas are the most common type. They occur on the skin’s surface, starting as a flat red mark and becoming raised and bumpy as they grow.
  • Deep hemangiomas occur under the skin with a bruise-like or bluish appearance and have a smooth surface.
  • Segmental hemangiomas grow over a larger area. They grow quickly after birth and for up to two years. They can cause complications depending on the area where they are located. Treatment may be if they become life-threatening, with complications that can impact heart and lung function.


A doctor caring for your child will typically notice a hemangioma during an exam and continue to monitor it at regular intervals. An ultrasound or MRI may be needed in some cases to identify if a lesion extends below the skin’s surface and if additional lesions are present.


Our team of specialists collaborates to provide the best possible care for your child and is here for you from initial consultation to treatment and aftercare. Decisions about treatment for hemangioma are tailored to the child. Consideration is given to the child’s physical and psychological development, the location of the hemangioma, the possibility that the hemangioma may fade without intervention, and also the potential risks for complications.

Treatment options for hemangioma include:

  • Medications: With careful monitoring, our physicians may choose from any number of medications, such as topical antibiotics or beta-blockers or steroids. Medications may be administered by mouth, intravenously, or applied to or injected into the hemangioma, helping to slow growth or even causing them to shrink.
  • Laser treatment: Using powerful light waves, usually while the patient is under anesthesia, this mode of treatment aims to restore the color and texture of the skin to its regular appearance.
  • Surgery: For lesions that have not responded to other treatments and are not likely to shrink without intervention, or are causing certain complications, our specialists may consider surgery.


Children with hemangiomas are carefully monitored during and after treatment and receive supportive aftercare services from our team of pediatric specialists.