Eight-month-old Floridian Luna Fenner has undergone the most difficult part of her treatment in Russia’s Krasnodar to remove a rare facial skin condition. Ruptly asked her mother Carol and surgeon Dr Popov about the progress.
The tireless mom, who had been told by her friends and family that she would be “crazy” to travel to Russia, did so anyway after discovering that American doctors do not currently have the technology needed to remove her daughter’s mask-like birthmark in time for school. Carol’s greatest concern was that Luna would be bullied – and she’s already experienced some negative reactions to her child’s condition, known as giant congenital nevus.
Fortunately for Luna, the first – and the most challenging – part of her treatment has been a resounding success, according to Russian surgeon Dr Pavel Popov, who operated on the baby’s eyelids and forehead. “The hardest part in treating nevus is removing them from eyelids, so operating on ciliary margin is the hardest of the hardest,” Popov said, adding that they also cleared some of the “easiest” areas as part of phase one – and in both cases, the skin is expected to look “natural.”
Carol says she’s being realistic, knowing she has to be patient to see the results of the 18-month course, and Luna’s individual response to the sophisticated pain-free treatment, which involves laser radiation.
“I’m very realistic. I know that the final result can’t happen in one month, in two months. So I’m worried, I’m scared, because we hope for the best for Luna, but I know – we need to be patient,” Carol told Ruptly. But both her parents and husband Tiago are overjoyed with the progress, she adds.
They’re very happy because we didn’t need to do the expanders, the traditional surgeries, cutting her face… We talk a lot to my parents, to Tiago all the time on the video, they’re very happy.
Carol has called the results of the operation “the best possible Christmas present,” and said she was relieved her daughter had been spared the traditional treatment methods, which include implanting a temporary expander under the patient’s skin to fill it with salt water and harvest the expanded skin afterwards.
Popov, who has pioneered a non-invasive method for such conditions, said not all patients have been so lucky, but several people have already contacted him after reading the news about Luna.
“One girl from the United States had skin on her head stretched with expanders for four years, and they [the US doctors] had been able to remove only those parts of the nevus that were relatively simple… as for the orbit and eyelids, the surgeons couldn’t use the expander technique there. Well, thank God they didn’t, because it would have led to serious anatomical changes, and then we wouldn’t have been able to help,” the surgeon told Ruptly.
And now we’ll take this case and do what the American doctors couldn’t
Popov originally contacted Fenner after hearing about her family’s situation on the news, and offered treatment in the southern city of Krasnodar. Luna is scheduled to return to the city in January 2020 for her second operation.
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