A port-wine stain is a birthmark

A port-wine stain is a birthmark
which is red, flat, present at birth,

in about three per thousand people.

And is permanent unless treated.

A lot of children
call it their special mark.

Sometimes it's an angel's kiss.

Abigail's birthmark was quite extensive

over most of the side of her face,
up to her eye,

over to her ear
and down to her mouth.

Port-wine stains
always start off flat,

they can be anywhere on the skin,

as a rule the majority are on the face.

We weren't worried. They said, "It's
a birthmark, you don't need to worry."

"The paediatric clinic
will tell you more about it."

There are no known causes
of port-wine stains,

it's just something that happens.

It was after the first appointment

that you start finding out
the complications

and you go on the internet
and start googling,

and you don't know
what you're dealing with.

There is a syndrome
called Sturge-Weber syndrome

where if the port wine stain
is over the forehead

it's worth getting an MRI of the brain
just to check that out.

There's also glaucoma associated
with port wine stains around the eye.

It wasn't till after we'd been to see
Great Ormond Street

and they had looked into her eyes

and said they were sure there was
nothing on the back of her eye

and that would mean
there was nothing anywhere else,

that we felt a little bit more happy,
more comfortable with what was going on.

Port wine stains
can be treated well with a laser.

We use pulse-dye lasers.

It's a yellow light which gets
absorbed by the blood vessels

and very slowly shuts them off
to make them lighter.

Laser surgery was an option
but then there's the complications

of having a general anaesthetic,
which was the big worry.

We never guarantee that we'll get rid
of port wine stains with the laser,

but the chances are that you'll be able
to fade it by a good 70% or more.

The surgery's been very successful

and I was surprised how
quickly the laser dots went away.

When she first came home
they were very dark,

but they start breaking down
almost immediately.

And within two weeks they had faded

to the point where you couldn't
really see them any more.

Port wine stains don't get larger,

they can however thicken and darken
if they're not treated.

You're worried about them
looking different and being different

and how that's
going to affect them at school,

because kids can be cruel and you
don't know how they'll be affected.

You don't know what their personality's
like and how they'll deal with it.

If the parents are confident

and they don't show that they're
really concerned about the birthmark,

then the children tend to be
quite confident too.

If they're taught how to respond
to people asking about it,

they tend to do much better.

If laser treatment isn't an option
or doesn't do very well,

then there is always
the skin camouflage make-up,

which can be taught by The Red Cross

or certain people in hospitals
can teach you how to do it.

The support group were helpful,

to meet other people who'd been
through the same sort of thing.

Once we'd met with doctors
and discussed things,

I felt much more comfortable
with what we were dealing with.