A Canadian woman who suffered serious facial burns as a toddler has made it her mission to help people like her overcome their deepest insecurities through an unorthodox solution: tattooing.

Basma Hameed was two-years-old when her brother tripped with a pan of hot oil and spilled it on her face. Hameed grew up without a left eyebrow, serious scars to her face and struggled with devastating bouts of depression.

“I would go outside and somebody would call me a name or bully me or just say hurtful things. That’s where the depression came from,” she said. “I didn’t want to leave my house. It was really difficult for me to go to school.”

After several failed surgeries, Hameed decided to try tattooing her own face to cover up the scars. Her doctor warned her against the idea.

“He said don’t do it, you’re going to regret it. The colour will change, the scar tissue will never accept the colour,” she said.

She went ahead anyway. Hameed began by adding an eyebrow and, noticing the success, slowly developed a method to make her red scars look like her natural skin tone.

“I would give it a try, just very small area, and from there I would say, ‘You know what, I saw a little bit of improvement,’” she said.

Hameed has since made a living perfecting the procedure, which she calls “paramedical tattooing.” She uses special pigments designed around a patient’s skin tone to camouflage a range of conditions, including surgical scars, burns, acne scars, vitiligo and birthmarks.

There is plenty of demand for the procedure, with thousands of patients from across the globe having travelled to Hameed’s Toronto clinic for treatment. She has also developed a line of matte, unisex cosmetics to help those who can’t visit her clinic cover up a skin condition.

In some cases, the treatment can be life-altering. Annette White was born with a large birth mark on her face, and she says leaving the house for work or school was a daily struggle.

“Everywhere you go, you know you’re being judged,” she said.

After eight sessions with Hameed, White’s birthmark went from deep purple to nearly invisible.

“Now I am going to school and I have a job,” White said. “I am doing so much more that I never thought was possible.”

Demand for the procedure was so high that Hameed decided to open up a second clinic in Los Angeles, and she has plans to open others in London and Dubai.

It’s personal work for Hameed, who says she has offered the procedure for free to those who can’t afford it.

“The only reason I continue to push to tell my story is that there is another boy or girl who can watch this … and be inspired and can feel like there is hope,” she said.

With a report from CTV medical specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip