Treatment: Laser treatment for burn scars
Laser(s) used: n/a
Number of Treatments: n/a
Scars: Front of chest and along right arm.
“I have had my scars almost all my life from a hot water accident at 14 months old. When I was younger I would limit the times of going to the beach or going to the pool. (As an adult) I am a pretty confident guy, but there is always that subconscious feeling that you’re not on the same playing field. There has been a dramatic effect (since Dr. Waibel’s treatment); everything is basically flat and smooth. In the overall picture, I feel good, it looks good. I know in the next 6 months to a year or 2 years it’s going to look even better. As a provider, Dr. Waibel is the best there is.”
Stacey: You are a burn survivor.
Joel: Yes, I am 28 years old.
Stacey: You have chest scars from boiling tea water, is that correct?
Joel: Yes, it was hot tea, my mom’s hot cup of tea.
Stacey: What was the time or the year?
Joel: I believe I was 14 months old; I was born 1983, so I’m thinking like mid 1984.
Stacey: What was the date or the year of your first treatment with Dr Waibel?
Joel: I want to say 2008.
Stacey: What lasers were you treated with throughout your treatments and how many have you had?
Joel: I have had about 16-18 sessions, I have had quite a bit. I have had the (Fracksel?), the pulse Di-Laser, and a couple of others, I’m not quite sure, but there in the same realm, and the Ultra- Pulse, and there may have been another one or two.
Stacey: So you are on about 18 sessions right now and you’re still going I assume.
Joel: Oh yeah, absolutely! There has been a drastic change from like where I am now. I’m still doing the same treatments, but um, it’s definitely getting a lot better and seeing the light at the light at the end of the tunnel, but yeah, I’m still going.
Stacey: Last basic question. Where are the scars? Are they just on your chest?
Joel: It’s on my chest. It goes probably from like, I don’t know probably five inches from my neck, it’ll start; it doesn’t start at my neck. So if you were looking at my chest, if you put your hand right below your neck it would be like 5 inches below that. It’s kind of like the form of a t-shirt, so if you had a t-shirt, it’s like kind of like the outline of a t-shirt on my chest, and then it goes down to like my right. So like if you had a t-shirt on and you’re looking at your right arm where the sleeve ends, that’s where my scar ends. So it goes from the sleeve up.
Stacey: On just your right arm or both arms?
Joel: Uh, just the right arm.
Stacey: How did you find Dr Waibel?
Joel: I did a lot of research. I believe I started researching cosmetic surgery or things like that, for my scar in probably 2007, maybe even 2006. After college I went to Florida State, then after college I went to Spain to do some due diligence. I probably contacted at least 3 dozen doctors and all of them had not been familiar with the cosmetic as far as burn scars. Not much didn’t want to do anything to make the scar worse. Towards the end of 2007 I found a doctor who did a procedure called (Resow?). I don’t know if you’re familiar with that. Basically they dermabrade the scar down and take a sample from a near location and use a little of skin to cultivate new skin in the form of a stem cell. Kind of like Dr Waibel, but not as deep as what she is going into. I did the Resow session and it made the scar worse, and that cost like probably $10,000. It was pretty intense and it hurt like hell. It took like 2 months to recover from it. From there I went to a dermatologist and we got into the subject of scarring, he mentioned Dr Waibel. He met her at a conference or something. He gave me her contact information, and that’s about the time when the television special on the Today Show and 20/20. So I met her in 2008, in coincidence through my dermatologist, and I have been doing the sessions ever since.
Stacey: What was your biggest fear going into it? Especially, since you had already been burned, for lack of a better word from another treatment. Did you believe that she was going to help you?
Joel: Well, I think like as far as burn survivors you kind of always look optimistic, there is always the option or hope that it is either going to be done now or in the future. I helping and minimizing the scarring. From what I did in the (Resow?) session with Dr (Widel?), I knew it couldn’t get any worse than that because that procedure was pretty intense. They pretty much sand papered the scar down and sprayed the (Resow) on my chest, which hurt like shit. So I knew the laser couldn’t be as bad as that. I really didn’t have a fear, I thought like anything it would help me as instead of hurt me. The fact that I was giving it a shot, even if it turned out worse I would still try it instead of sitting at home and sulking about it. I really didn’t have a fear going into it.
Stacey: What inspired you to start searching? You said after college, you went to Spain. You had some time to think about. Was it something that bothered you for a long time?
Joel: Yeah, you know it did bother me for a long time. I think people who have scars always have like this chip on their shoulder. There not equivalent as far as that realm of other people. Not like I don’t feel confident or anything, I have a pretty solid life and I’m 28 and still pick up a lot of chicks and still yada, yada, yada (laughter), but at the same time there is always that subconscious feeling that you don’t feel like you’re up, you know as far as being on the same playing field.
Stacey: Right, you want people to not even have that second thought when they look at you. Do you know what I mean?
Joel: Exactly. Exactly.
Stacey: That’s completely removed.
Stacey: You don’t have to think that maybe they’re maybe thinking about it or like pity you or whatever.
Joel: Exactly, I hate feeling pity or someone feeling bad for me, it’s the worst thing ever. I really don’t mind explaining the story but after like the 100,000 time it just gets annoying. But just me as far as a person, I needed to do for myself and I started doing the research. I think it’s similar to a woman who had small breasts and she needed to feel better about herself type a thing. It was like a mental thing a physical thing, if there was something that I can do I wanted to give it a shot, but that’s when I started looking. But it’s always kind of been with me since I was little.
Stacey: Right, I was going to say you grew up with it so…
Joel: Yeah, it sucks.
Stacey: Is there anything in particular that you want to share? As a younger kid did people make fun of you? I mean, it’s kind of in an area of where you could hide it, right?
Joel: Well, I kind eliminated that, there were some incidents where kids are just being kids and some things are being said but I would limit the times of going to the beach or going to the pool or stuff like that when I was younger. As I entered High school, I really enjoyed surfing and skate boarding and things like that, because being in Florida that’s what we do. It didn’t really bother me then, but yeah there were a lot of those times and it was a bad feeling, it sucks and obviously someone who got burned doesn’t like to go through it, it tears you down but um, I tried to limit those opportunities where kids were doing that just by not going to the pool and stuff like that. Like I would skip out on school vacations and field trips because I didn’t want to go through that. So it’s kind of shitty, but you know. I don’t think about it.
Stacey: Which is unfortunate, because it’s great that you have had treatment now so now obviously it instills confidence like esthetically but probably have more confidence anyway just growing up so it’s like a combination of the two but if you could have gotten treatment earlier it would have been nice because that awkward stage is already hard enough without having to deal with something extra on top of everybody else.
Joel: Yeah, exactly. So people who have gotten burned, we definitely have a confidence, a concrete like wall that sometimes we don’t let people in so easily or if people have opinion were not like afraid to block it out or voice our opinion. I don’t know, that’s what I feel.
Stacey: Ok, so back to the treatments, after your first treatment I’m guessing it was the Pulse (DiLaser?) Is that correct?
Joel: I think the first treatment, ‘cos we tried the Pulse DiLaser, um we did it two times and with my scarring in particular, it gets red like it stays white, kind of like off pigment, like especially when I drink alcohol it gets red that was something I brought to her attention and I think it is one of the biggest things that sticks out. Because, if you have a scarring that is somewhat similar to your normal pigmentation, it is what it is you can’t see it you can’t feel it but, you know if it’s like rose red you’re like what the hell man. So yeah, it’s a pain. So we tried another laser which I think was a (Shoot Dot?) I guess to get rid of the roseation. But, um, yeah Pulse Di was the first one, we tried the dot one and that didn’t turn out very good and then we kind of stuck with the Pulse Di as the main laser.
Stacey: So you didn’t do the (Fracksel?) then?
Joel: Oh, we did yeah; we did the (Fracksel?) in the beginning. I think the (Fracksel?) and the ( PulseDi?) are similar, except the (PulseDi?) is a little bit more intense right?
Stacey: That sounds correct, but I will confirm with Dr Waibel. What was your recovery like when you actually did the laser which is completely different than when once again that kind of like traumatic treatment that you had as far as maybe not even results but just like the actual recovery period. What was it like?
Joel: Sure. Well if were comparing apples to apples the (ReCell?) recovery was my skin didn’t actually stop peeling for about, I recorded it, it was almost like almost two months, and it was ridiculous. I couldn’t get out of bed and I had bandages on and I actually needed help getting out of bed for the first two weeks, so yeah it was pretty rough. As far as the way Dr Waibel sessions go, I am able to go in, I think it takes like maybe 2 hours to complete the laser as far as numbing and actually doing the laser and I drive home that day and if I really, really want to I can go to the gym if I don’t mind my skin rubbing up against my shirt. But I will absolutely go to the gym the next day. So the recovery time is less than 24 hours I would say, and I am completely mobile I don’t have to stay home, I can continue with my normal activities.
Stacey: What were the results in terms of how it actually looked?
Joel: When I first started my skin was very hypertrophic, it was like rough, and there were bumps in certain areas how my skin reacted to the first (ReCell?) session I had when I was in Spain. But there is a dramatic effect, everything is basically flat now its smooth. You can see the pattern of where the scar is now I guess were at the stage now where we are working on the smoothness of it and the pigmentation. But as far as the effects a lot of it is flattened now, some color is back and it’s a lot smoother. You can see the before and after pictures.
Stacey: Are you on Dr Waibel’s website?
Joel: I don’t know.
Stacey: We’re currently working with her to over-hall it. She probably will be coming to you asking to feature you on it.
Stacey: How long between treatments, how long do you have to wait?
Joel: It’s something where you want your skin to kind of be fully recovered before going back into another laser session. I usually wait a month a month and a half, but I typically go about every 4 months but I have been going about 3-4 years.
Stacey: Do you have to travel far to get to Dr Waibel?
Joel: When I first started her office was right around the corner from me so about 15 minutes. But now she works in Miami and I’m in Palm Beach. So about an hour and a half drive.
Stacey: That’s nothing compared to some other people. The twins are in Texas, there’s another patient in New York, or not the twins the triplets. So you’re lucky.
Joel: I know, I know, that’s probably why I take full advantage.
Stacey: How has this changed your life?
Joel: It has completely changed my life, but it definitely I can see it moving forward in an extremely positive note. In a sense of that every time that I go I know that its one step closer to my personal end result. I can really see it in a nut shell when I go there and I can see my chest now versus 6 months ago, 8 months ago or a year ago or when I first started. It’s kind of like when you get accom to something and it’s not as bad or you’re getting used to something, so when I look at myself in a mirror and I’m like ok oh I look good I definitely got to do this, this stands out more than anything as far as my scars. Versus, like 3 years ago when everything looked bad. So, my nit picking has definitely gone down. In the overall picture, I feel good, it looks good. I know in the next 6 months to a year or 2 years it’s going to look even better. Yeah, it definitely is going good, so I guess the overall picture is success so far, it just takes some time. It’s like building a house, you can’t build it from day one as the walls go up, the roof goes up and the paint goes up you can start to see the drastic changes.
Stacey: I love metaphors; that’s awesome. I’m using that.
Joel: Yeah, that’s pretty cool.
Stacey: Yeah, that was pretty good. Ok.
Joel: Oh thank you! I know. You should see what I say to like chicks, it’s crazy.
Stacey: (Laughter) Interesting. Ok. Um, what is one thing you can do now that or like to do more now that you couldn’t do before you started getting treatment? What has Dr Waibel done with lasers?
Joel: There’s nothing I could do now or can’t do now. I have never been restricted in that sense. More of a mental thing, confidence. There hasn’t been anything wrong with my confidence but little by little I feel confident that I’m looking better in that sense. I’m happy and I’m seeing the results. Kind of like when my confidence would go up when going to the gym for a month or two months and see the results in that sense.
Stacey: Right, right. Like, when you go surfing now are you a little bit more like, after every treatment do you feel a little more bit like, I don’t know less self-conscious, more proud and more like really excited to go out there and do like “hey”?
Joel: Yeah, I mean like, I kind have always been like that when you go surfing, you just go. You don’t really think about you know hey somebody’s ask me or like ‘cos there’s so much going on. Yeah, when I go to the beach I know it’s still there, and I know people are still going to ask but, I know it looks better now than it looked in 2008 or 2009. In that sense so I know that’s its gotten better and its getting better.
Stacey: Alright, last question. Describe your experience with Dr Waibel as a provider.
Joel: Extremely helpful. You can tell by her demeanor that she really cares, she’s pretty warm, and she doesn’t have this sense where, not like most doctors do, but she doesn’t judge you. She’s welcoming she’s concerned. She has a lot on her mind as far as the next step. Like its always the next step. Rather than alright you’re in and you’re out, you know call me in two months. I want to go ‘cos she how she’s doing she wants to see how you’re doing. You kind of have a bond with her rather than your doctor your dentist. She’s a sweet-heart; she’s a very smart doctor. She knows her stuff she’s always searching for the next thing as far as how to improve not just your scats but scars in general. It’s fun to go when I do my treatments because I get an update to what is going on. So it gets me thinking because I know that she cares, if it’s something we can’t do now or five months from now she’s working on it to get that planned. Her staff is really, really nice. Her staff is super smart as well they’re very welcoming and whatever you need to eat or drink or if anything hurts. If you’re in the middle of a treatment and you’re in a lot of pain there’s like 3 people to help you out. They talk you through it and it’s a really good experience. It’s a really good experience if you’re going to do the session there’s nothing to be scarred about. As a provider, I think she is the best there is. She’s a really good person.
Stacey: Is there anything that you would like to add, if you’re trying to reach out to somebody else who may have been through a similar experience to you. Is there anything you would say about you know the laser treatment or Dr Waibel on what they can do.
Joel: I spoke to someone I saw on the street, I tried to tell them about it, it got kind of confusing. If it was something I would try to tell someone it would be do your research on the internet or word of mouth any sort of provider there wouldn’t be anything. I’ve done it and there wouldn’t be anything. But I would say give it a shot there’s nothing bad that can happen from doing this. Not like I needed to do it but it was something that was important to us you know to do it we kind of looked for that one opportunity to make your parents look better. Even if its someone who just has a small scar on their arm chest or face, leg you will definitely see dramatic results as far as the effects being for the better. I would say give it a shot and see what your options are, there’s nothing bad that can happen out of it.