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?

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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

Hi, I have a 2 1/2 yr old son. He was born with a skin tag and my Dr advised us to remove it after he turned 1 year of age. When the time came I felt the same as you. It made me nervous to have him have surgery at such a young age. We decided to wait until he is at least 5 yrs old. Good luck in making this decision.

1 mom found this helpful

C.,
I have read all of the responses. No matter how many opinions you receive, you should follow your heart. It sounds like you want to wait. Personally, I would not do it, at least not right now. Your son will not be traumatized by being different unless others tease him. It sounds like you will not let that happen. He WILL be traumatized by the surgery.
Good luck.
Amy

1 mom found this helpful

My situation was different. My son had many ear infections so we decided to do the tubes in the ear and had his adnoids out at the same time due to them being enlarged. The surgery was less tramatic for him than it would be when they get older. That was my experience. My older son had surgery when he was 5 and he had a much harder time.

I do know that kids can be cruel and if you can protect him it is something to consider, but at the same time I do understand that you would be hesitant to do surgery for something of this sort.

1 mom found this helpful

My son was born with a cleft lip....plastic surgery was an option at 4 months...this was a "cosmetic repair"...(an hour and a half surgery) I think now that my son is 18 months old...at the time I wasn't sure if I was doing the right thing...but looking back now, I'm so glad I did it when he was young. They heal a lot faster and since they're so little they don't know any better...much easier when they're little. In my case my son couldn't be bottle fed for 10 days due to the incisions and stitches...so we had to syringe feed him...he had arm resistriants so he couldn't touch his face for 10 days as well....talk about stress. But he totally adapted...much easier then my husband and I did. It was harder for us, I think then for him...do your research get the expert in the field in the Chicagoland area...we used Dr. Bruce Bauer from Children's Memorial Hospital...he's a great plastic surgeon...and my son's lip looks fantasic, people don't even know unless I tell them. Say lots of prayers and then go with your gut.

1 mom found this helpful

Oh my gosh ! My dad AND my Grandpa had double thumbs !! They never had it removed...in fact, it came in handy (no pun intended!)Of course, I'm not sure how it was for them growing up as kids but my dad used to tell me "you have to stop sucking your thumb or this will happen to you !"(Yep, I stopped sucking my thumb!) I'd laugh at him. I thought it was fascinating. My dad and grandpa had a lot of fun with their double thumbs as a matter of fact. Lot's funny jokes and all ...my dad used to tell me he'd go into a bar and tell the bartender, "if you swear you've never seen this before, you gotta promise me a free drink"...sure enough, he'd get the free drink everytime. Perhaps it could work at chuck e cheese or McD's!! Then again, I'm sure you don't want your child going around getting free cocktails !!It must skip a generation or two, since neither I nor my 3 kids have double thumbs . I often think that their children may, however.Heck, if it's not bothering you or him, I'd say wait-besides, if he's gonna be in a cast at such a critical developmental stage (crawling,walking,climbing etc...)he may be needing to use that arm !! (then again, I'm not a doctor)
I think it's so cool to hear that someone out there has one!The double thumb lives on!!
I say thumbs up to whatever you choose !!!Whatever you decide, it'll be the right choice...go with your instincts.

1 mom found this helpful

My opinion would be to do the surgery at 10 months. I think if you wait it will be even more traumatic for you and for your son. Also, I think your son will follow your lead - if you're relaxed, he'll react better too. Just my opinion... trust your gut and good luck. A.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi C.! I have never experienced this myself, but a friend of mine I grew up with and was actually my first birth for my doula certification had a daughter that was born with those strawberry things all over her body. A really big one on her arm and face. She did not want to do surgery on her, but did end up doing it, because you know, it is best when they are young and wont remember it, ya know? And, you know when he is older, he is going to not want that. I know that I would do it and i can speak for my husband too that he would say do it as well. I know that. I feel it would be the best thing to do it now while he is young and will not remember it and get it taken care of. I hope this helps.

S. Bailey CLD
Aurora
www.tendermomentsdoula.com

1 mom found this helpful

My son had to have a large lump (which was a cyst) from his forhead. He developed it at 5 weeks old. Our surgeon wouldn't do an elective surgury until he was 1 year. Less risk of a bad reaction to the anestetic.

I really think it is your call. My son did well, we waited until he was 16 months old. The Dr. also made sure he was in perfect health.

Best of luck.

1 mom found this helpful

C.,

Follow your heart about it being a non-medical procedure. Sometimes, I feel like just because there is a medical procedure that can be done people feel pressured into doing things- even risky things like elective surgeries.
I say: Let him decide if he wants his thumb or not. I know somebody with an extra thumb and TOE!!!! Perfectly happy and content with the way God made him.

Warm regards,
M.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi C., My name is J. and I am the mom of a 3 year old girl and a 7 month old boy. I am also a pediatric operating room nurse. It is a good idea to have this surgery as early as possible to so that he will not remember it. He will want this extra thumb removed when he realizes that it is different from the other children. Surgery in children is now very safe and they bounce back very quickly from this. It would probably be an outpatient surgery and your child will go home the same day. Hospitals now have anesthesiologists that specialize in the care of children and they will make sure that your child is comfortable before, during, and after the surgery. Your child will not remember the surgery and will not feel any pain during the surgery. It is a good idea to take care of this asap. If you have any questions you can email me at ____@____.com care. J.

1 mom found this helpful

Both of my sons have had surgery before or right when they turned one. My youngest for tubes, my oldest for a hemangioma on his neck that would get knocked open and we wouldn't be able to stop the bleeding. When we were there for his surgery there was a little baby who was having an extra finger removed too.. and he was very young.. .probably less than 6 mths! the only thing I can suggest is that if he's even a BIT in the stranger anxiety phase.. or just more attached to you.. our doctor gave our son a mixture of versed and tylenol before they would take him away from us for the surgery. Basically it makes them loopy.. like FUNNY loopy and they won't remember being taken in or care who they GO with.. I requested it for my second because he was having seperation issues at the time of his surgery and they might fight you but if they are 'traumatized' by you leaving them with someone else, they can sometimes have issues with doctors and what not afterwards. I was told this AFTER my firsts surgery.. which is why they did the versed...

Just my experience. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

My family had a situation with my baby girl where we could either have surgery performed right away (5 months old) or wait until she was older. It was a condition that may develop into issues later but was not presenting any issues at the time. We met with a fantastic surgeon who suggested that at 5 months old she would never remember (we will NEVER forget) and that we would be glad we had it taken care of right away. Once she was older it would be scarier for her. We had the surgery at 5 months old and she is now 2 years old and fabulous. We are happy that we did it when she was so young and now it is just a faint memory for us and she has no memory at all.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi C.,

My oldest son, now 7, had polydactaly on both hands and feet. He had extra pinkies on his hands and feet. Both my husband and I had never seen ths before, and I am a nurse! Yes, it is relatively common. Alot of times, they just tie off the digit in the hospital and it falls off. However, my son had bone and required general surgery at one year old. The surgery was 2 hours and he did great. He was crawling around that evening. Now he is a very active 1st grader.
Since then we had 2 girls, whom did not have the polydactaly and just had our fourth child last year. he was a boy and had the extra pinkies on his hands only. He had surgery, did great and we never looked back. I can recommend a fabulous pediactric hand surgery specialist out in the suburbs if you are interested.
Absolutely do the surgery before they are old enough to be scared, but make sure they are big enough to be strong. Our doctor recommended around a year or 20 some pounds.
Good Luck.
L.

1 mom found this helpful

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