Make-up for birthmark boosts teen’s confidence

Katie O'Connell, camouflage pharmacy technician, and Jessica Yorke
Katie O'Connell, camouflage pharmacy technician, and Jessica Yorke

A TEENAGER once bullied over a birth mark on her face is dreaming of a career on the catwalk following work with a unique clinic at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

Jessica Yorke endured years of unhappiness because of a red lump the size of a 10 pence piece above her top lip.

But now the 13-year-old has learnt new make-up skills at the hospital’s Camouflage Clinic - the only one of its kind for youngsters in the UK - which have given her the confidence to enter a modelling competition with Bliss magazine.

Jessica, from Maltby, said: “I couldn’t believe the results!

“I was really surprised you could barely see the mark at all, it was a huge relief.

“Now I’m not self-conscious and can walk around happier. I had some shots done to show the before and after results of the make-up and the photographer said I should look into modelling.

“Without the camouflage clinic I would never have thought of entering a modelling competition but now I have the confidence to pursue this.”

The 5ft 5in Maltby Academy pupil was initially told by dermatologists that an operation could be considered - but not until she was older. In the meantime she endured torment from school bullies.

“Things got worse as I got older especially when I moved from primary school, where people were used to my birth mark, to secondary school,” she said.

“It was really annoying as people constantly asked me about it and would think I had fallen over or been hit. I tried to cover it up with make-up but if it was cold the lump would get brighter.”

Then in March last year surgeons advised Jessica and her parents Tina and Michael that the camouflage clinic was a better option, since an operation would leave a prominent scar.

Katie O’Connell, camouflage pharmacy technician at Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said a vascular malformation of Jessica’s top lip had caused the mark. She and the team use specialist water resistant make-up to cover it and treat patients from departments including dermatology, occupational therapy, plastics and burns.

“It’s great we’ve been able to help Jessica and lots of children like her,” Katie said. “We try hard in this clinic to build up the child’s confidence because we get amazing results often with important psychological effects.”