If the bulge of organs is large, there may not be room inside your baby’s small body for all the organs right away. In these cases, doctors use a technique called “paint and wait.” The sac covering the omphalocele is “painted” with an antibiotic cream. Over time, your baby’s skin grows over the sac. This may take several months.
When the baby is stable, breathing well and eating without problems, doctors wrap the sac with an elastic bandage, like the ACE bandages you can buy at a drug store. The elastic of the bandage slowly pushes the bulge back into your child’s belly.
In most cases, babies do not need to be in the hospital for paint-and-wait treatment. Our nursing staff will teach you how to use the bandage and care for your baby. When all of the contents of the sac are pushed into your child’s belly, the surgeon will talk with you about a surgery to close the remaining hole.
It may take 6 to 9 months for the elastic bandage to push the bulge into your child’s belly. This may seem like a long time. But paint and wait is very successful in children with large omphaloceles. It has greatly reduced the number of problems babies used to have when surgeons tried to push all the contents of a large bulge back into the belly right away.
If your baby’s lungs are small, the paint-and-wait technique may be the best way to treat the omphalocele at first. As your baby grows, the lungs and belly get larger. This makes more room inside for organs. Breathing becomes much easier as the baby grows.
Read how Onora’s care team decided “paint and wait” would be best and how it prepared her for a better life.