Zara Hartshorn, Teen With "Benjamin Button" Syndrome, Gets Life-Changing Face-Lift

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When she was 12, Zara Hartshorn of South Yorkshire, England, started feeling like a little girl trapped in an old woman's body. And for good reason.

Hartshorn, 16, suffers from a rare genetic disease called cutis laxa, which causes the fatty and connective tissues and bones under the skin to deteriorate.

As such, it can lead to the appearance of extreme premature aging.

Zara Pics

The symptoms first appeared when she was a young child, and by the time she was 8, she was being bullied mercilessly at school for her appearance.

Her mother, Tracey Gibson says her daughter "was kicked and punched." Hartshorn adds, "It got so bad, I stopped to school going for awhile."

Her story reached Dr. Abhimanyu Garg, M.D., a lipodystrophy expert in Texas, who provided a correct diagnosis to her and her mother.

Another Texas physician, plastic surgeon Robert Ersek, M.D., went a step further and offered Hartshorn a free face-lift and rhinoplasty.

"I realized how life-changing it could be, but I was still so nervous about how it would turn out. The night before the operation I couldn't sleep  I was so excited."

When the bandages first came off, she was upset by the results.

"Everything was so swollen. I thought I'd made a huge mistake. But after nine days I had the nose cast removed and realized how good it looked."

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