facial birthmark

‘It was pizza day in school. ‘Your face looks like a pepperoni.’ My friend got up and slapped the guy.’: Woman born with port wine stain learns to embrace her beauty, ‘I needed to be myself’

“I was born with a big Port Wine Stain, covering half of my face. They would only laser a small part of my birthmark at a time because it was so painful. My mom recalls ‘the smell of burned skin getting in her nose.’ As I got older, I felt people staring more. Adults would stop in the middle of the sidewalk. ‘Wow.’ Kids would point. ‘Look at that.’ Imagine a little girl asking a grown woman, ‘Can I help you?’ That was me growing up.”

‘My fingertips gripped the vinyl. It felt like ‘hot rubber band snaps.’ My mom had to hold me down. For a child who doesn’t understand, it’s torture.’: Woman with port wine stain advocates for ‘torture’ pain control, ‘It felt like hot needles into my brain.’

“As we walked toward the doctor’s office, the fear made my body cold. I would feel my anxiety bubbling up, making it harder to breathe. I wanted to pull away from my mom. Stop getting closer. I became aware infants and children are still treated without any pain control. ‘They just swaddle them and do the treatment really fast,’ I was told. Babies? How could anyone do this? ‘It doesn’t really hurt.’ Reading this made me want to vomit. The memories of the pain and being held down is so visceral for me.”

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