Vascular Anomalies Center | Coping and Support

A vascular anomaly can elicit a range of emotions for parents, the affected child and the entire family, especially if it is prominent. Even those anomalies that will ultimately go away invariably challenge parental coping skills and children's self-esteem.

Fortunately, there are resources available to help families weather the emotional ups and downs that invariably occur. And with adequate information and continued support and guidance, most parents and patients find they are able to manage very well. Many of these resources are available through the Vascular Anomalies Center. And we can help patients who live far away seek and connect with resources closer to home.

  • A vascular anomalies specialist—One important source of support is a vascular anomalies specialist, who can help you understand how your child's vascular anomaly may change over time and guide you—and your child, as she becomes self-conscious about the birthmark—to resources that can help her deal with many of the emotional issues.
  • Your primary care physician (e.g., pediatrician)—Your child's primary care physician—if he communicates with the vascular anomalies specialist and is knowledgeable and up-to-date about the latest treatments for vascular anomalies—can be a source of ongoing support as well.
  • Counselors and other mental health professionals—Some families find it helpful to seek counseling with a mental health professional. For instance, counselors and social workers, such as those available through the Vascular Anomalies Center, can help children deal with the psychological and social issues related to having a birthmark, and can often serve important roles for siblings as well.
  • Friends and family—Your friends and family—including extended family members—can be a valuable source of support and provide a much-needed respite from strangers' stares and questions. One recent study showed that parents of children with disfiguring facial hemangiomas found it helpful to interact regularly with adults and children who knew their child and were accustomed to his appearance.
  • Advocacy and support groups—Communities of families with the same or similar experiences can be a tremendous source of strength, advice and support. They provide parents an opportunity to share their experiences and feelings with others in a similar situation.

As a helpful resource, we have compiled a directory of advocacy and support groups that focus on vascular anomalies. In addition, we invite you to explore the Vascular Anomalies Experience Journal, a collection of stories, videos and personal experiences that represents the vascular anomalies community's “collective wisdom,” touching on all aspects of what it means to have a vascular anomaly.