'My daughter had birthmark surgery'

Rebecca Lindsay

A week after Rebecca was born, her mother, Gillian Lindsay, noticed a tiny red dot between her daughter’s nose and eye.

Watch a video about haemangioma birthmarks

The dot was growing, so Gillian sought medical advice. Consultants diagnosed the growth as a haemangioma – a collection of tiny blood vessels that produce a raised mark on the skin.

“I was told it would shrink with time,” says Gillian, 32, from Glasgow. Cortisone treatment was started, but it didn't stop the growth.

By the time Rebecca was two, the birthmark had grown to the size of a large egg. “The reactions of people in the street made my day difficult,” says Gillian.

“I did have my weak moments when I thought I just couldn’t let my daughter start school with this on her face."

Severe bleeding

She read an article about Saving Faces – The Facial Surgery Research Foundation, a charity in London founded by face surgery expert Iain Hutchison.

She wrote to him and enclosed a photograph of Rebecca, then aged two-and-a-half. “He called me and arranged for us to come down,” says Gillian. Rebecca got a referral, from her GP, to Hutchison’s unit at the Royal London Hospital in east London, so that the operation would be done on the NHS.

After discussing the options with Hutchison, the family opted for surgery. They were worried about Rebecca rupturing the haemangioma, which could lead to severe bleeding.

"The haemangioma would have interfered with Rebecca's facial growth and eyesight," says Hutchison. “Rebecca was in theatre for about three hours. It went smoothly.”

A discreet scar is all that remains where the haemangioma once was.

'Life-changing'

"She’s improved remarkably,” says Gillian. “She’s popular at school. She’s had no bullying about her scar. She decides herself whether or not she wants to tell people about it.”

While Rebecca may have been too young to understand what was going on, to Gillian the operation has been a huge relief.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic,” she says. “I’m much more relaxed now. Surgery has been life-changing for both of us. Just to see her like a normal little girl was all I wanted.”

Shortly after the operation, the family was invited onto the Richard and Judy TV chat show with Hutchison to talk about their experience.

Gillian says parents concerned about birthmarks should read as much as possible about the condition and consult a birthmark specialist when seeking medical advice. 

Birthmarks (haemangioma)

Haemangiomas are vascular birthmarks caused by abnormal blood vessels in or under the skin. Find out how to deal with birthmarks and what to do if they cause complications, such as problems with eyesight or breathing.

Media last reviewed: 13/06/2016

Next review due: 13/06/2019

Page last reviewed: 02/10/2014

Next review due: 02/10/2016

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