Advances in lasers melt away scars - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Advances in lasers melt away scars

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(05/20/14) - An acid attack left her suffering with burns on most of her body.

Now, new advances in lasers are melting away her scars and giving her her life back.

"More than the pain, I could remember the smell. The smell of like burning flesh," said Tanya St. Arnauld, who was attacked with acid.

St. Arnauld remembers vividly when her then-boyfriend attacked, spraying corrosive acid in her face.

"I said, 'Oh my God, he's going to kill me I have to get out of here,'" she said.

She escaped, but not before the entire bottle of acid had been dumped on her, burning 70 percent of her body.

"In the beginning, you see holes in your body and you see tissue and it's so gruesome," she said.

She lost huge chunks of hair and much of her mobility. Multiple skin grafts left mangled scars.

"I was thinking to myself, I'm just 29 and I'm a total handicap," she said.

Looking at her now, you can see that hope would come when she found one of the top scar experts in the U.S.

"Most doctors don't even know, let alone patients that we have these great technologies," said Jill S. Waibel, MD, of the Miami Dermatology & Laser Institute.

Dr. Waibel first uses a laser that vaporizes the burns using heat more than 212 degrees fahrenheit.

"We are basically heating up the scar so hot that you'll see when we treat the patient, we have a smoke evacuator to suck up this skin that we are vaporizing," she said.

This is Tanya's fourth treatment.

"We are literally creating a third degree burn, very small. And then removing that damaged skin and then brand new skin grows into that," Dr. Waibel said.

A second laser, known as lumenis ultra-pulse, penetrates deeply into the skin, allowing steroids and other topical treatments to be delivered where it's needed most.

"In this case, it's kenilog, which is going to help synergistically flatten the scar."

Dr. Waibel says the trick is getting to the scars early.

"We've found that the sooner you get the lasers on the burn scars, we think we can actually prevent the scars from forming," she said.

For Tanya, it's a welcome pain.

"I'm like anxious to come suffer for every month," she said.

You can see the difference in Tanya already.

"It's weird to say, but I love this pain now because it's so beautiful after," she said.

She wants to try to begin rebuilding her hairstyling career, which was put on hold.

More daunting, though, is the prospect of facing her alleged attacker in court - during his trial that's currently scheduled for August.
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