A woman who needed reconstructive surgery on her nose after doctors removed a clump of blood vessels under her skin has revealed how she is ridiculed by cruel strangers who say she looks like a 'bull' or Shrek's Princess Fiona.
Laudiane Fernandes, 42, from Alagoas, Brazil, was born with haemangiomas, collections of small blood vessels that form lumps under the skin, in her nose, scalp and around her eyes.
They caused severe nose bleeds and seizures in childhood which worsened to the point where she was in and out of hospital on a regular basis.
After being diagnosed at the age of 16, Laudiane underwent eight surgeries including one to remove a haemangioma from her nose, which involved cutting into the skin and reshaping the nose.
However the repaired skin became infected and Laudiane's nose partially collapsed.
Laudiane Fernandes, from Alagoas, Brazil, was born with haemangiomas, a collection of small blood vessels that form a lump under the skin, which caused severe nose bleeds as a child
Laudiane eventually needed reconstructive surgery, which left her with a larger nose, above
To repair the damage doctors performed a skin graft using part of the inside of Laudiane's cheek.
While this helped her breathe better, it also left her with a nose that was 'twice as big' as the one she had before.
'After five hours, the process was complete and although I felt happy that my nose was finally whole again, I was sad about my appearance and all the scars I had been left with,' Laudiane explained.
'After three months, I was in and out of the hospital once again where they ensured that the skin wasn't rejected. I remember missing being with my friends at school and playing with them and I started to struggle mentally.
'My mum used to cry and worry that we wouldn't have enough money to financially cover all of my surgeries and I used to feel down almost every day.
Laudiane, pictured, is ridiculed by cruel strangers who say she looks like a 'bull' or Shrek's Princess Fiona
Laudiane was bullied over her nose as a child and says the torment continues to this day
'Once I returned to school, I began getting comments from my peers such as "How are you doing Pinocchio?" and "You look like an alien with that nose", which used to hurt my feelings and their constant bullying really took a toll on me.
What is a haemangioma?
A haemangioma is a collection of small blood vessels that form a lump under the skin.
They’re sometimes called ‘strawberry marks’ because the surface of a haemangioma can look like the surface of a strawberry.
Eighty percent of haemangiomas don’t develop any problems at all and, in those that do, the problems aren’t always severe.
Haemangiomas can be superficial or deep. Some haemangiomas are a combination of the superficial and deep kinds, with a raised, red area on the surface of the skin, and a bluish swelling that comes from deeper in the skin.
We don’t fully know the cause, but there’s evidence that some cases may arise from placental tissue very early in pregnancy.
Source: NHS/Great Ormond Street
'However I learned to be strong and brave as I had no other option and if people couldn't accept my differences, then all that showed me is that they were unhappy with themselves.'
Laudiane, who works as a beauty therapist, experienced her first nosebleed at the age of five. It was so severe she was left 'sitting in a pool of her own blood'.
'Within seconds, I began having a seizure which scared my teachers as they didn't know what was going on and I was rushed to hospital,' Laudiane recalled.
'As I arrived, medics struggled to make a diagnosis as there wasn't enough technology available like there is today.
'They tried to perform a cauterisation - a procedure which aims to burn off and remove part of the body - where they tried to burn off a few of my blood vessels in an attempt to stop me from bleeding, but this didn't work.'
Laudiane was in and out of hospital as a child with 'constant' bleeding and seizures that grew increasingly worse.
She was finally diagnosed with cavernous haemangioma at the age of 16. Doctors found her nose, eyes and scalp were all affected.
Laudiane continued: 'As my nosebleeds worsened to the point where I couldn't even go a day without profusely bleeding, I spent the majority of my time in hospital corridors where they could monitor my condition.
'Due to this, doctors decided that the best course of action would be to perform surgery on my nose where they would cut into it and remove a clump of blood vessels.
Laudiane, pictured, had a skin graft after a scar from a previous reconstructive surgery became infected
Laudiane was in and out of hospital as a child with 'constant' bleeding and seizures that grew increasingly worse. Pictured, Laudiane today
'I went on to have eight surgeries and in my final one, they tried reattaching the skin to my nose but this resulted in an infection and as a result, I lost part of my nose.
'I was left with a deviated septum after my surgery which brought me great difficulty breathing and due to this, I knew I had no other option but to let them [reconstruct my nose] with part of my cheek.'
Laudiane said: 'I am not ashamed or feel inferior to anybody else due to the way I look and I believe that my condition has actually made me stronger and it will not deter me from living out my dreams'. Pictured, Laudiane today
Laudiane said she feels grateful to be alive because her condition led to breathing troubles
She added: 'Sometimes I still get comments from people online which are just horrible and cruel such as, "You look like Fiona from Shrek" and " Only bulls have noses like that," but my ordeal has taught me that you cannot let what others say affect you as life is so precious.
'Due to my condition, there were times where I could have stopped breathing or even bled out due to how much I was losing, but I thank God everyday that I am still here to tell my story.
'I am not ashamed or feel inferior to anybody else due to the way I look and I believe that my condition has actually made me stronger and it will not deter me from living out my dreams.'