Erasing Birthmarks

Every year, thousands of people are born with facial birthmarks. Some of them are truly disfiguring. But with advances in laser technology and microsurgery, they don't have to be. The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm explains.
had to learn to live with her less-than-perfect face. On one side of her nose was a birthmark, a collection of dilated blood vessels known as a port wine stain. But it looked more like a nasty bruise. So through winter and summer, marriage and motherhood, Marlene hid behind a mask of heavy makeup.

Her daughter, Carrie Wood says, "It was such a thick, pancake, pasty makeup, it would give her a ghostly complexion. It was so white."

Last May, during the Week of Wishes, The Early Show introduced Marlene to Dr. Milton Waner, a pioneer in treating birthmarks using laser technology. And last month, Marlene paid Dr. Waner a visit.

The laser is highly accurate and can target only the malformed vessels that cause the birthmark.

And after five minutes, the procedure was over.

The laser marks will soon disappear. And in another session or two, her port wine stain will be just a faded memory.

Marlene and I have a few things in common: I was also born with a port wine stain. It's just under my left eye, and I have also come to Dr. Waner for treatment.

All right -- I was a little nervous. But I truly had nothing to fear: After a local anesthesia took effect, the doctor taped my eyelids shut, just to be safe, and the laser process itself happened faster than I could blink.

There's no recovery time needed: My face smarted a little, but I could sit up after a minute. And I could laugh immediately.

Of course, not all of Dr. Waner's cases are so easy. Consider the case of Alexis Davis. By all accounts, she was born beautiful.

"She was perfect," her mom, Stacy Davis says. "Family members referred to her as a little China doll, because she was perfect in every way."