ROTHERHAM, England, June 24 (UPI) -- A 16-year-old British girl who suffers from a condition that makes her face age to one of a woman in her 60s was given a face lift to make her look younger.
Zara Hartshorn suffers from the rare condition of lipodystrophy, which prematurely ages her face and leaves gaps in her teeth that make her look old and the subject of taunts of "granny," the Sunday People reported.
Now that she's had the surgery, she said people don't stare at her on the street anymore.
Last July, Zara told the Sunday People of her condition, lipodystrophy, which causes her to age prematurely, decaying bones and destroying fatty tissue inside the skin.
Dr. Abhimanyu Garg, a U.S. expert, flew her to Texas for tests and discovered she had an even rarer illness -- cutis laxa, which can weaken joints and cause heart and lung problems.
Still reeling from the new diagnosis, Hartshorn was offered a free face lift by Dr. Robert Ersek in Austin, Texas, who specializes in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery.
Although the surgery is a cosmetic fix and her long-term condition remains incurable, Hartshorn said she has vowed to keep her spirits up and her head held high.
"Now I can walk down the street and not feel like people are watching me," she told the Sunday People. "I look younger but I still feel older than my years because of everything I have been through."
Hartshorn said she hoped to open a beauty salon so she can help others look their best. She also has a boyfriend, who said he was glad she got the surgery but the way Hartshorn handled things has been inspirational to him.
"I'm so proud of her, she means the world to me," he said.