A mother with thousands of tumors all over her body has undergone surgery to get ride of the painful bumps that she says have left her feeling ‘like a circus freak’.
Libby Huffer, 46, suffers from a rare condition called Neurofibromatosis, which caused more 5,500 tumors to form on her skin.
The mother, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, had surgery in 2016 to remove the tumors, after an appearance on The Doctors. She has now returned to the program to go through a second procedure in order to remove additional tumors on her face and neck and smooth the appearance of her skin.
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Painful: Libby Huffer, 46, suffers from a rare condition called Neurofibromatosis, which caused more 5,500 tumors to form on her skin
Treatment: The mother had surgery in 2016 to remove the tumors, after an appearance on The Doctors. She returned to the program for a second procedure (pictured)
Helping: Libby, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, had another procedure in order to remove additional tumors on her face and neck and smooth the appearance of her skin
In progress: Footage of the procedure show the doctors removing tumors from Libby’s face and performing a laser treatment
Process: The surgery was followed by a grueling recovery, after which the mother underwent a makeover before her big reveal
Libby can be seen in a preview clip from the episode, which will air on Monday, being admitted for the second part of her surgery.
‘We’re going to remove more tumors on her face and neck and follow it by a fractional CO2 laser that’s going to improve the scars and the overall look of her skin,’ host Dr. Andrew Ordon said.
Footage of the procedure show the doctors removing tumors from Libby’s face and performing the laser treatment.
After a grueling recovery, the mother then underwent a makeover before her big reveal, which immediately caused her daughter Lindsey to get emotional.
Libby was five years old when she was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type 1, a rare skin disease that causes non-cancerous lumps.
The hereditary disease, from which her mother and grandmother both suffered, affects approximately one in 3,000 to 4,000 people in the world.
Libby, who did not pass on the condition to Lindsey, struggles with chronic pain and itching as a result of the illness, which has also impaired her sleep.
‘I just wish I didn’t feel like a circus freak,’ Libby previously told The Doctors.
Past: Libby was five years old when she was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis Type 1, a rare skin disease that causes non-cancerous lumps
The mother previously opened up about how she lived a happy, normal life until her teenage years, when hundreds of bumps began to develop on her skin.
After the first outbreak, she was severely bullied by people who thought she was contagious and cruelly labelled her ‘Lizard-Breath’.
The comments were so bad, she changed her name from Elizabeth to Libby to avoid the painful reminder of the bullying.
WHAT IS NEUROFIBROMATOSIS?
Neurofibromatosis is the name of a group of conditions that cause lumps to grow on the coverings of nerves.
There are two main types, the most common being Type 1 or NF1. It affects around one person in 3,000 to 4,000. There is no known cure.
NF is caused by a mutation in one of the genes. About half of the people who have NF have no family history of the condition. This is called a spontaneous gene mutation. The other half of people will have inherited NF from their mother or father.
Some sufferers are affected by neurofibromas, which usually appear during adolescence. These may first appear on the skin as a purplish mark, before a small fibrous lump appears. They can also grow along deeper-seated nerves inside the body, which can be painful if knocked.
The lumps can increase in number during a person’s lifetime. There is no treatment to stop the lumps from appearing, although surgery or laser treatment can sometimes be used to remove them.
In 1993, while pregnant with her daughter, Libby’s hormones caused her tumors to multiply into the thousands.
By November 2016, she had undergone ten operations to remove the lumps, but surgery had failed and some of the tumors had even grown back, prompting Libby to seek specialist treatment.
‘The tumors all over my back cause chronic pain, the nerves in my feet have a tingling sensation all the time, which makes it hard to sleep, even though I’m on 13 different medications,’ she said at the time.
‘They can even hurt from simple things like a hug or even if water hits them in a certain way.
‘I’ve been bullied and victimized my whole life because of the bumps all over my skin, they cover me from head to toe.
‘For the majority of my life I’ve covered up in long sleeved tops and pants, but recently I’ve tried being brave by showing more of my skin. I try not to let it stop me.
‘Someday it would be wonderful not to have to worry about how I look, or what clothes will hide my bumps.’
Children of parents with Neurofibromatosis have a 50 per cent of inheriting the condition, which caused the hundreds of birthmarks on Libby’s skin to develop into hard bumps.
‘When I was a kid I found out I had it, it made me worry about my future and what I would look like when I grew up,’ Libby added.
‘We have a history of NF in my family, I had a lot of birthmarks and knew that inheriting the condition would lead to tumors.’
Every aspect of Libby’s life has been affected by the condition, from day-to-day interactions to getting jobs and even finding love.
She revealed in 2016: ‘After college, it took two years to get decent paying jobs, it took a lot of interviews without call backs and I worried it was because of how I looked.
‘Currently I’m unemployed and unable to work because of the pain I feel from standing up for long periods of time, all caused by my condition.
‘I haven’t had a boyfriend in eight years, guys seem scared to approach me and relationships never seem to work long-term.’
The mother explained that all she wants is ‘to be adored and cared for like anyone else’, adding: ‘I wish people would talk to me rather than stare like I’m a circus freak, it just makes me feel really uncomfortable.’