Zara Hartshorn, 16-Year-Old With 'Benjamin Button' Syndrome, Receives Face Lift After Years Of Being Mistaken For A Middle-Aged Woman [VIDEO]

Zara Hartshorn
Zara Hartshorn, 16-year-old from the UK with "Benjamin Button" syndrome, undergoes a facelift and nose job from the top surgeon in the US. Barcroft Media

Sixteen-year-old Zara Hartshorn has always had a hard time fitting in. Although Hartshorn is only a teenager, she has the physical features of a middle-aged woman due to a rare genetic disorder since birth.

For years, the UK native has attributed her altered appearance to lipodystrophy, a metabolic disorder that leads to partial loss of fat around the face and body. Hartshorn's mother Tracey also suffers from the debilitating condition and has always told her daughter she has nothing to be ashamed of.

"Mum explained that I had an illness like she did, but that I was beautiful and shouldn't pay any attention to what anyone said. The bullying was worst between the ages of eight and ten. Kids used to call me monkey and granny and I was even beaten up just because of how I looked. It got so bad I stopped going for a while," Hartshorn told the Daily Mail.

"I lived in fear of being asked how old I was. I was even mistaken for a teacher in school on a couple of occasions, which was just mortifying in front of my classmates."

Little did she know the worst was yet to come. After lipodystrophy expert Dr. Abhimanyu Garg asked Hartshorn and her mom if he could run tests on their condition, the mother and daughter found out it had nothing to do with the rare genetic disorder.

Garg told Hartshorn and her mother they both suffered from cutis laxa, an even rarer disorder that is accompanied by various other health concerns including troubles with inflammation, life-threatening reactions to penicillin, and a shortened life span.

Despite the unfortunate diagnosis, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, offered up by Dr. Robert Ersek, one of the top plastic surgeons in the U.S. Ersek told Hartshorn that he would be willing to offer her a facelift and nose augmentation free of charge.

"I feel much more confident and just happier in general. I'm now able to do things like going to college and having a career which I might not have felt possible before," Hartshorn added.

"The surgery has given me a boost and now I don't fear what other people think. I've noticed a change in me and I feel a lot happier."

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