A mother who faced fierce criticism after using laser treatment on a large birthmark on her baby face has defended her controversial choice – and revealed her son has gone a landmark six weeks without a seizure.
Brooke Atkins, 34, from the Gold Coast, Queensland, noticed that her second child, a boy called Kingsley, now 22-months-old, was born with a large Port Wine Stain (PWS) birthmark covering half of his face.
When stay-at-home mother Brooke and her partner Kewene Wallace, 28, decided to laser the mark when Kingsley was around six-months-old, she was branded a ‘monster’ by cruel online trolls.
While the marks are usually harmless, if covering the eye, they can lead to both glaucoma and Sturge Weber Syndrome – which causes seizures.
Kingsley was diagnosed with both, but the laser treatment to lighten and improve the overall skin of the birthmark has helped greatly, lowering the toddler’s risk of further complications.
Baby Kingsley (pictured before having his birthmark lasered off) was diagnosed with both glaucoma and Sturge Weber Syndrome – which causes seizures
Now aged 22-months-old (pictured), the youngster has gone a landmark six weeks without seizures
Mother Brooke (pictured) was fiercely criticised after using the treatment on Kingsley (pictured) – but she says his health has improved as a result
The decision to go ahead with laser treatment last year was a good one, according to mother Brook (pictured with Kingsley), who says her son is ‘doing great’
In a new milestone, his mother has revealed he recently went six weeks seizure-free – the longest period since his seizures started in October 2022.
With her son thriving, the mum has no regrets about going ahead with the treatment.
‘Kinglsey is doing great,’ said Brooke.
‘He had another laser treatment two months ago – his first treatment that was under general anaesthetic, as he’s too big and aware to have treatments awake now.
‘His face has responded greatly to the laser and we are five weeks seizure-free.
‘He’s also just had his third eye surgery for his glaucoma, which so far seems to have been a success.’
Despite the negative reaction she got online after sharing Kingsley’s story, Brooke has defended the decision.
She said: ‘I think having anything out there online will attract criticism, unfortunately.
According to Brooke, despite the fact that the treatment helped her son, putting out any information about it tends to attract judgemental comments
When baby Kingsley was first born (pictured) the mark was barely visible, but soon became more noticeable
Despite his hard times, baby Kingsley (pictured during his treatment) has been described as a happy and sweet baby
According to mother Brooke, people have even referred to the laser treatment as ‘abuse’ – despite the medical benefits
‘[Recently] we once again received all these negative judgmental comments from people who did no understand why we did the laser.
‘[They said] things like ‘that’s horrible, that’s abuse’, ‘wow some people don’t deserve kids and it’s so sad they don’t love them the way they are’, and ‘vanity is evil’.
‘It no longer upsets me how it used to.
‘It does however get me angry that they don’t bother to educate themselves on Port Wine Stain birthmarks and jump to these conclusions.
‘I try my best to educate them on why we are doing laser treatment at such a young age.
Despite his health trials, baby Kingsley (pictured here with his sister Armani) is the ‘happiest, most loving and sweetest boy you will ever meet’, according to mother Brooke
Mother-of-two Brooke (pictured with her children) says that if you don’t have anything nice to say, it’s best to refrain from saying anything at all
Brooke and her partner Kewene Wallace (pictured, far left and left) said the decision to go through with the laser was ‘difficult’
However, the parents say, when challenged over the port mark treatment, they point out that ‘this will give him the best chance at not adding to his long list of medical issues he already has’
In an effort to help educate other parents, Brooke shares updates of Kingsley’s treatments with around 50,000 online followers
‘I tell them that this will give him the best chance at not adding to his long list of medical issues he already has.
‘And if they respond rudely to that, I try my best not to tell them what I really think but sometimes it’s hard.
‘If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’
Brooke and partner, Kewene Wallace, 28 – whom she shares three-year-old daughter Amarni with – made the difficult decision to try laser treatment in May 2022.
Last year, she said: ‘The only way to treat a Port Wine Stain is through laser treatments and the most effective laser for it is called a Pulsed Dye Laser.
What is a port wine stain birthmark?
A port wine stain is a birthmark caused by the overdevelopment of blood vessels underneath the skin.
The change in the blood vessels is caused by a genetic mutation which occurs before a child is born, and will remain for the rest of a person’s life – though the severity of them differs between people.
Port wine stains begin as a flat red or purple mark and, over time, can become more raised, bulkier and darker in colour.
They can occur anywhere on the body but 65 per cent of them appear on a person’s head or neck.
Around three in every 1,000 babies has a port wine stain and they are more common in girls than in boys, though the reason for this is not known.
Treatment usually involves laser treatment to remove some of the dark colour from the mark, or camouflaging the discolouring using a special type of make-up.
‘When he was first born, we were referred to the Queensland Children’s Hospital dermatology and vascular department, where they organised the first treatment and explained in further detail why laser would be important.
‘The purpose of the laser treatments is not to ‘remove’ the birthmark but instead keep the skin healthy, to prevent any further damage to the area.’
The treatment will continue to be required one to two times a year for maintenance.
Brooke will continue to update her 46,000 followers and share Kingsley’s progress as he continues to thrive.
She added: ‘He is the happiest, most loving and sweetest boy you will ever meet!’