21 answers

Infant and Surgery

My son was born with an extra thumb on his left hand. I was told that this is not too unusual (about 1 in 1000 births.) It is not affecting his health or development. It does not bother him (or me) in any way. In order to have it removed, he will have to have surgery under general anestesia and will have a full arm cast on for 4 weeks. He will be 10 months old at the time of the surgery. This is an elective procedure. I am very confident in the doctors and they say everything will be fine.
I am having mixed feelings about doing surgery on a baby that is not medically required. Yes, I understand that he will not remember any of this and that when he is older that he will want his hand to look "normal." Should I wait until he is old enough to understand what is being done to him?
Has anyone had a similar experience with elective surgery. Did anyone wait until thier child was old enough to understand?

2 moms found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?â„¢

Wow, almost exactly a year to the date I was looking back at my posts and saw this one. We decided to do the surgery. We had to cancel several times because of illness and bad weather. He was 17mos. when it was finally done. All went well. He is now almost 2 1/2 and is a healthy, happy boy.

Featured Answers

Hi C.,
I did have some of the same experience. My son was born with a lump on his neck which I was told was a piece of cartiladge possibly from his ear, his ears are both developed fine though. At any rate the lump was noticeable and I was told it would grow as he aged. My husband and I opted to have it removed at 9 mos. of age at Childrens Memorial Hospital. The staff and doctors are all very understanding knowing the parents are upset and they make you feel very comfortable. My husband and I are very glad we did this as we will never remember what happened and kids can be very cruel we didn't want him to have to go that teasing at school. Let me know what you decide. Good Luck

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

My daughter had the exact same surgery 2 years ago. She was born with an extra thumb on her right hand. Hers was medically necessary because of the position of the extra digit.

We were told by our peditrician and the surgeon to wait until she was at least 1 year old, so we waited until she was 15 months old.

She did great during the surgery, she woke up crying from the anestesia, but they let me go in and hold her until they made sure she was ok. The whole thing took about 5 hours from the time we arrived until we left.

She was absolutely fine and she didn't even notice anything. It was amazing to see how fast she delt with it. They also told us that she would be in a cast, but they did not need to put a cast on, just a soft bandage for 2 weeks. You can't even tell now, other than a little scar.

Where are you having the surgery?

1 mom found this helpful

Hi there-

You have gotten quite a few responses to this, based on personal experience and opinions from just Mom's and how they would deal with it. I wanted to give you an opinion on the social stigma of having an extra digit so I sent this request to my husband to see if he had ever experienced this and he had. Here is what he had to say. Thought this would help from a social perspective. Hope this honesty helps!

"Well, I knew a guy in one of my classes in grad school (so I was 22 or 23 at the time) that had two thumbs. Well, "knew" is a strong word.

I saw him the first day and never spoke to him. The two thumbs creeped me out. I try to be as open minded to people as the next guy, but he used to jam his pencil between the two thumbs and sit there like that. My friend Bob and I talked about him all the time. Never really in a derogatory way, but in the way that indicated we'd probably never speak with him.

Having said this, if this were my child, my opinion would depend on the family situation. Example, does insurance pay for elective surgery? If not, can they reasonably afford it? Now's the best time for it, and if they can, I'd say go for it. A cast will really hamper an active kid, so it might be best to get it taken care of right away. I think she's right, that thumb will be the source of a life of tragedy for that little guy."

1 mom found this helpful

C.,

My son was born with a heart defect and it had to be corrected when he was one. It was not an elective surgery - we had to have it done, but I have to say it is much easier ( and most pediatric surgeons will say the same) when they are younger. They do not remember anything. After an open heart surgery, my son was in the hospital for just a few days and was back to normal within a week of being home. At such a young age, they do not have anxieties and worries or understand much. I think it would be scarier for them when they are older. I can understand how worried you are. We were very much so - go with your gut. If you are going to do it anyways, it may be easier on your baby to get it done while he is small.

Good luck.
A..

1 mom found this helpful

I have been around several similar situations, one of them being a friend of mine. Kids can and will be exceedingly cruel at times. Get the surgery. Two main reasons: 1) kids and adults alike can permanently damage someone’s personality and seriously hinder their potential. If he is not damaged by others, he may do the damage himself. Generally, we are our own worst critics, and often can do more harm to ourselves than others; 2) kids heal phenomenally – it is likely because of the young age, scars from the surgery probably won’t be detectible.

Good luck,
K.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi C.,
I did have some of the same experience. My son was born with a lump on his neck which I was told was a piece of cartiladge possibly from his ear, his ears are both developed fine though. At any rate the lump was noticeable and I was told it would grow as he aged. My husband and I opted to have it removed at 9 mos. of age at Childrens Memorial Hospital. The staff and doctors are all very understanding knowing the parents are upset and they make you feel very comfortable. My husband and I are very glad we did this as we will never remember what happened and kids can be very cruel we didn't want him to have to go that teasing at school. Let me know what you decide. Good Luck

1 mom found this helpful

Hi, I am an RN at a children's hospital in Chicago. To wait until he is older may be more traumatic for him than to have it done now. Being casted at an older age may be more of a problem later as well. I work in a post surgical unit and babies of all ages are anestatized for multiple reasons, for both medically necessary and elective procedures. Most often the younger child does better than the older child. If you have any questions please email me
M.
nurse and mom of a 1 mo old

1 mom found this helpful

Obviously the decision is up to you, but it will be easier on the both of you if you do it earlier rather than later. If you do it now, he won't really remember the experience enough and won't really know enough to be scared. If you wait until later, it will probably be more traumatic for the both of you.

If you want people's opinions, then I would say to definitely do it. I know that that's a controversial opinion, but if it's something that can be taken care of relatively easily, and you can afford to do it then I don't see why not!

BTW, we had a wonderful experience at Children's downtown for surgery when my third was 9mo. He had an undescended testicle and was recommended for surgery. It was as great of an experience as it could have been in that circumstance and they have WONDERFUL people there!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi C.,
I definitely understand your concern. We discovered at 13 months our daughter had coates disease in her right eye. She had 2 laser surgeries. One to shrink the swollen vessels and the second procedure was to stop the bleeding and fluid. I still remember the day the hospital called me at work to pre-certify her. I just cried. When the anestia wore off, she was so confused as to why she felt so yucky. But the good thing is that we did this at a point where she wouldn't remember it and be afraid of doctors. Now, because of these 2 surgeries, we decided not to have an operation on her umbilical hernia. I just buy tops big enough so that her belly button doesn't show. She had a check up today and the pediatrician realized that she's just fine and there's nothing no need to proceed with a unncessary surgical procedure.

I know it's tough and you don't want to make the decision that will cause your child to resent you later in life. But as parents, sometimes we have to make decisions for our children that we don't want to. I wish you well with whatever you decision you guys make.

1 mom found this helpful

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