Doctors believe that the birthmark, which covers half of her face, may become cancerous

Shanghaiist.com
Jan 26, 2018 · 2 min read

A brave young woman has touched hearts across the country as she undergoes an unusual treatment on her face aimed at changing and saving her life.

23-year-old Xiao Yan was born with a birthmark that covers half of her face. She had prepared herself to live with the massive mole — known as congenital melanocytic nevus — for the rest of her life. However, last year it began to cause her pain and doctors told her they feared it would become cancerous.

Xiao is from a poor family in rural Guizhou province. However, in order for her to stand a chance, she needed top-level medical attention. In March of last year, she traveled to Shanghai to pursue treatment at the city’s Ninth People’s Hospital. Meanwhile, her family was able to raise 100,000 yuan to cover the first stage of her medical costs.

Last October, that first stage of treatment began. Xiao had four “balloons” implanted inside of her face. Twice a week she goes to the hospital to have these balloons filled with more fluid so that they gradually expand.

The reason for this procedure is that once Xiao’s birthmark is removed, she’ll need facial tissue to replace it. During surgery, doctors plan to graft this extra tissue onto her face.

In footage shared by Pear Video earlier this week, Xiao is seen riding the Shanghai subway, concealing her face as best she can. She tells reporters that if all goes well, she hopes to advance to the second stage of her treatment by this June.

Watch on QQ video.

In the meantime, the young woman will have to live her life with four balloons gradually inflating inside her face. The shape of the balloons has earned her the title of “Gourd Doll” (葫芦娃) on the Chinese internet where netizens have left her thousands of messages of support.

[Images via Pear Video]

Shanghaiist

China in bite-sized portions

Shanghaiist.com

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China in bite-sized portions.

Shanghaiist

China in bite-sized portions

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