Andrew's story

My name is Andrew Jenkins and I've had a port wine stain on my right cheek since I was born. It was looked at regularly until I was nine-years-old by a plastic surgeon at Gloucester Royal Hospital called Clive Reid. He intended to do a skin graft on my birthmark but decided against it because of the position, and we decided to but my name forward for laser treatment - if any local hospitals obtained a laser machine, I would be placed on the list to be seen.

In November 1992, I received a letter from a Mr J M Kenealy at Bristol's Frenchay Hospital offering me laser treatment and giving me a summary of what would happen. I had a test patch done on my left arm and having no adverse reactions, we decided to go ahead with the treatment. The laser heats up the blood vessels which are close to the skin and causes them to shut themselves down and create new ones deeper in the skin.

I have now been going to the laser centre for over 12 years. Each treatment can last up to an hour and I go back every eight - ten weeks. A clinical research fellow asks me if there was any scaring or scabbing after the last treatment before going ahead with the next treatment. The treatment involves about 10-15 blasts of the laser every 30 seconds and a cooling gel is applied afterwards.

They now have a new laser machine which can penetrate deeper in to the skin than the previous one and I will be one of the first patients to be treated with it. The previous laser machines have left me with hypo-pigmentation - a lightening of the skin cells - so I have to wait a year for the skin cells to repair themselves before any more treatment can be done.

I now only have a small area of my birthmark left, and hopefully all or most of it will be removed within the next few years. This is why I'm not worried about the bit near my eye - it can be left as a memento of the pain and suffering that I had to go through. Hopefully I'll be able to go out and not have strangers stare at me or tease me.

I feel much better in myself and I have more confidence in myself to do and try new and exciting things. 

The photo's, show the progress of my treatment from the start of my treatment in 1992 to the last treatment on 2008.