NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A 36-year-old Brooklyn man has lived with a facial deformity his entire life.
A port-wine stain (an area of skin in which the small veins under the surface are dilated, increasing the amount of blood in the veins and resulting in a reddish mark on the skin tissue that can thicken and continue to grow and protrude from the affected area), which was left untreated, caused tissue overgrowth on Clint Rami’s face and made him the target of bullies.
On Thursday, Rami will undergo an operation at Roosevelt Hospital to remove the growth and he hopes others, especially children, will be able to have the same opportunity.
“The most important thing is to believe in the support system, believe in yourself, and continue making life movements forward,” Rami said. “Don’t get depressed, don’t ask, ‘Why me?’ cause it will take a lot of years from you.”
Rami said he teaches his four children to accept themselves and be strong but he said in the end you have to do what’s right for yourself.
Rami said he was bullied his whole life because of his deformity and he hopes his story will inspire others to realize they are just like everyone else.
“For those in my age in group that went through that every day in high school and junior high school and elementary school it gave you choices — either you find a way to creatively make the best of the situation or you run and hide,” Rami said. “I chose to make the best of the situation.”
Dr. Milton Waner said he is seeing more adult patients suffering from port-wine stains come in for consultation.
Waner said many people have not sought treatment because of a lack of knowledge that treatment options exist and other physicians telling them to leave their port-wine stains alone.
He said patients also may not seek treatment because they simply get accustomed to living with the condition.
“Rami was not aware of the fact that somebody could help him and as soon as I told him that we could do something for him he became very emotional and this was a tremendous surprise,” Waner said.
Doctors performing the procedure say Rami’s case is very sensitive and even dangerous but once the surgery is over Rami’s face will be much more symmetrical.
A laser surgeon will correct any birthmarks that remain.
Though Rami isn’t his first patient, Waner said it’s a procedure he doesn’t do often.
“There aren’t many people who do this type of surgery. It’s not widely available and it’s not widely known.,” Waner said. “Treatment of these patients is not very well documented and for the most part, most surgeons don’t really know what to do so the procedures that I’m going to be doing are procedures that I’ve developed over the last few years.”
Port-wine stain birthmarks occur in about one out of every 1,000 people.