Healthy Living: Port-Wine Stain
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For 35 years, a vascular lesion known as a port-wine stain birthmark has been growing out of control on Clint Ramie's face. In February, Dr. Milton Waner, a world-renowned expert at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital Center, began the first in a series of procedures to treat it.
"A laser will take care of the surface. It takes care of the discoloration. But what Clint has, is soft tissue overgrowth and it has caused distortion in his facial features. I'm removing the overgrown tissue and recontouring the features, so he has symmetry again," said Dr. Waner.
This has taken three surgeries, bringing Clint from a hopeful "before", to an "after" with a noticeable difference. That difference is not only in his appearance, but in his attitude as well.
"This is a big part of me. This is a big opportunity to move forward and just to feel a sense of normalcy," said Clint.
His wife, Gabriela, said the family's life has changed for the better.
"Our relationship has gotten closer. He's been out there, wanting to go out with me more. He's never really done that. He's always like 'oh lets stay in', but now it's like 'hey, lets go out'. I always understood why he didn't want to," said Gabriela.
While there has been an improvement in Clint's appearance, Dr. Waner said his case has proven to be more complex. There are still more surgeries and procedures ahead to get Clint to 100 percent of where they would like him to be.
Part of that complexity comes with a lifetime of not knowing where or how to access resources.
"Some folks say, 'why'd you wait so long'? And it's all about information," said Clint.
"There are lots of people that don't know anything can be done for that, but there is. There's a lot we can do. And there are lots of children who are born with hemangiomas and vascular birthmarks. In most cases, the sooner we get them, the better it is. Early treatment is clearly the way to go," said Dr. Waner.
Clint is hoping families who have not been reached by that message, see his story and do not end up having the same experience.