A young woman has been blighted by these unsightly keyloid scars all over her jaw, ears, chest and back – which she was once told were “the worst in the UK”.
Bianca Lawrence developed the unsightly scars when she was just 13-years-old – which now, at 22, cover much of the upper half of her body.
But as the spa therapist’s unusual scars continuing to grow, Bianca has been dealt another blow – she has been refused NHS funding for specialist laser treatment that could be her last chance of living a normal life.
Bianca first saw signs of the condition as childhood acne disappeared and the consequent scarring went into overdrive.
A keloid scar is formed when too much collagen is produced in a bid to heal a wound – creating a firm, rubbery raised lesion which grows bigger than the original damage.
The condition is more common in people with dark skin, such as people from Africa and African-Caribbean and south Indian communities.
Bianca is mixed race, having an English mum and Jamaican dad.
She is so affected by the painful, itchy condition that she lives in fear of stares and comments, wearing jumpers in summer and hiding behind her hair.
Single Bianca, from Bradford, West Yorks., said: “I am constantly self conscious. I am always thinking about what to wear to hide my scars and live in fear of what people might say to me.
“I sometimes hear people saying: ‘uuuuugh’ and I see people staring, they don’t look at me, they just stare at my scars.
“As I am walking down the street I quite often put my hand over my face so nobody can see them.”
University graduate Bianca does her best to hide her scarring with make-up and clothes, but still she suffers with depression and anxiety.
“When I got the news that the NHS would not fund my treatment I cried and cried,” said Bianca.
“I couldn’t believe that they belittled me so much as to say the treatment I was wanting was cosmetic. It was such a blow, I was distraught.
“You hear about women getting boob jobs on the NHS and I can’t have treatment for my scars.
“I see a psychologist, so my case was supported by my psychologist – who knows how much this affects me mentally – a specialist and a plastic surgeon and still I was refused.”
She now has to pay privately for treatment for the scarring on her chest, back and face.
She said: “I am also angry that the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) took eight months to make their decision about funding, in that time I was not having treatment and the scars continued to grow.
“If they had let me know sooner I would have just gone on and paid privately.”
The NHS only offers steroid injections, freezing and surgery for keloid scarring, but after almost 10 years of continual painful injections that did nothing to stop the growths or reduce their appearance Bianca wanted to try something else.
She went to the Sk:n Clinic in Birmingham to see leading keloid specialist Dr Anthony Abdullah in December to see what treatments he could offer.
She was told that laser treatment could help reduce the redness of her scarring and thus hide it’s appearance, but this comes at a cost of £350 per session.
So far she has had three and she doesn’t know when the treatment will end.
Now she and parents, pre-school practitioner Nicola Redman, 43, and Royal Mail delivery driver Junior Lawrence, 53, have to scrape together to pay.
Bianca said: “We really can’t afford it, but what else can we do? I have been left with no choice.
“The biggest insult, for me, was from the NHS. That is the most shocking treatment I have ever had.”
Bianca developed acne at just 11-years-old. By the time she was 13 she was given a powerful vitamin A acne drug, accutane.
As Bianca’s acne disappeared her scars replaced them.
At first Bianca did not know what was happening to her and at 13, got her ears pierced.
As a teenager, concerned about her skin and beauty she also started waxing her face – another damaging procedure – later causing the scarring on her jaw.
Bianca said: “I was only young. I didn’t know what was going on and I didn’t realise the damage I was doing. Nobody told me what I was doing would cause scarring.”
Now she works as a spa therapist and has to wear her hair up each day and has to brace herself to leave the house on a morning.
“I sometimes get changed a couple of times before I can leave if I decide that I’m too much on show.”
Once, when she was on a night out a group of lads started laughing at her and pointing, saying she looked like a burns victim.
Another time someone said she looked like she had been stabbed.