Treatment: Laser treatment for burn scars
Laser(s) used: n/a
Number of Treatments: 5 treatments
Scars: Face, forehead, both forearms, shoulders and chest
Dr. Waibel is one of the most amazing persons I have ever met in my life. She is so kind hearted, and truly cares about people’s well-being. Honestly, before I had the laser treatment, I was so insecure and self-conscious about my burns on my arm because people would stare a lot. After I got the laser treatment, I wear short sleeves all the time in public. I am 100% more comfortable with myself. This laser treatment hopefully just touches the surface of what is yet to come to help burn scars.”
Q: Do you know what laser was used on you?
A: Oh gosh. It was the fractional laser. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I’m not really positive. She used a bunch of different lasers that catered to my personal burn. The ultrapulse was definitely one of them.
Q: Did you and your sisters have the same treatment?
A: We all pretty much had the same treatment.
Q: Where is your scar location?
A: I am burned on my face, on my forehead, both of my forearms, and on my shoulders and my chest, right below my neck.
Q: When did you get treated?
A: 2009 maybe. I’m so bad with dates.
Q: How many treatments have you had?
A: I think around 4 or 5.
Q: How long do you usually wait in between treatments?
A: The first few we were in a rush because of all the publicitiy. We did a few month in between.
After the third treatment or so, it slowed down to several months in between.
Q: Your sister said she was done, are you getting additional?
A: I am very happy with my results from the laser treatment. I feel like there are some spots on my body that could use a little more treatment. But she was really aggressive with the laser on my arm, so that turned out a lot smoother than what my burns were before. But I may one to get a few more treatments on my shoulders.
Q: Who was burned the worse?
A: Chandra was burned the worst, then it was me, then Jordan was burned the least.
Q: What was the pain like? How did it feel? After the very first treatment, when you had no idea what to expect?
A: The first treatment, to be honest, it was horrible. They were just beginning to experiment with different anesthetics, topical, and different pain medication. The first treatment was really painful.
Just that emotion of everything happening. Getting the first laser treatments, dealing with our scars. I think emotion mixed in with the actual pain. It was just a not so good experience.
But after the first couple treatments, they ended up finding an anesthetic that really, really helpful. Because the last few treatments I got were not painful at all.
Q: So you were just in the beginning of burn treatment? You were one of Dr. Waibel’s first cases?
A: Yeah. Every treatment we got, we didn’t know what to expect, what takes the pain away. They were just testing out different things.
Q: Were you really scared?
A: Before I got my treatment, I wasn’t expecting it to be that painful. Because I have a really high pain tolerance. Not much can really faze me. I wasn’t expecting that much.
Q: DO you think you have a high pain tolerance because of your burn experience?
A: No. I think I’m just a stronger person. I can just deal with stuff better. Everything I have been through. I have a pretty high pain tolerance.
Q: When you were younger you had treatment right away – like skin grafting. If you could compare what you had to go through then, to the laser, could you?
A: When I was younger, I don’t remember the skin grafts. I do remember having to get surgery. They were called C-plasty surgeries. On my wrist. Because the bands were tight whenever I tried to make a fist. That experience was more long term with the healing process. With the laser treatment, it was painful but really quick. After the actual laser treatment was over with, there wasn’t that much pain afterwards. It was tightness, and it felt like a sun burn.
Q: They have made some advances in burn treatment now. If you had to give advice to a person who got burned today, what would you tell them? What advice would you have?
A: My advice would be to get the basics, what they need to survive done. But cosmetically, I would suggest getting the laser treatment. It not only helps the appearance with your burns. It also gives a sense of confidence. It helps your self-esteem.
That was the greatest thing I got out of the laser treatment. Helping myself get higher self-esteem. Just because I was going through the process of sharing my story with the world. That kind of forced me with laser treatments; I had to accept my scars. Everything mixed together. That helped me with my confidence. I definitely say that the laser treatment helped with people’s confidence. I have talked to several people who have gotten it, and they have said the same thing.
Q: What is something you can do now that you couldn’t do before the laser treatment?
A: Honestly, before I had the laser treatment, I was so insecure and self-conscious about my burns on my arm. Because people would stare a lot. It was hard for me to show my burns and feel comfortable in public. After I got the laser treatment, I wear short sleeves all the time in public. I am 100% more comfortable with myself.
The burns on my arm are a lot less noticeable. That’s also why I am also able to show my burns and be more comfortable with them. That is one thing I can do now, that I wasn’t able to do or feel comfortable with before the treatment.
Q: Did you go shopping after the treatment?
Q: It sounds like they discovered you, then decided to do the laser treatment?
A: What happened was that we reached out to Dr. Waibel. We were so hopeful. We saw this piece online of her treating another burn patient. She heard our story. We met up with her. Told her everything we have been through. She saw it as an opportunity to help us get the laser treatments. But also gave us the opportunity to share our story at the same time.
They thought, here’s a dramatic story, but it has a happy ending.
Q: Did your story feel sensationalized?
A: Definitely. We were not expecting. We kind of felt pressured into having to share our story in order to get the treatments because they were so expensive. That’s how it panned out. We weren’t really up for sharing our story so publicly in so much detail. We felt a little bit forced to.
Q: Do you feel like you have influenced a lot of people?
A: Oh gosh yeah. Definitely. At the time, I was so nervous to share our story. My whole life, I had hidden my scars, and my past. I was really private about everything. After sharing our story, it was kind of liberating. I could move on with my life, get my confidence back again.
We got so many letters from people saying how we inspired them. It was definitely worth it. We went it to the thing saying everything happens for a reason. As long as we just help one person, then it will be worth it.
Q: How did you first find Dr. Waibel? I believe Jordan told me that you were online?
A: It was me, Chandra, and our cousin. We were online. Our cousin was looking at cosmetic treatments for something. We randomly stumbled across this video of Dr. Waibel treating a patient with Keloid burns. She was using a laser. It was so exciting. We were crying. We had done a little bit of research on how to improve the appearance of burn scars. But nothing like the video we saw Jill treating that lady with.
I looked up her information. I ended up calling her office at midnight. I was trying to fall asleep but I couldn’t. I was tossing and turning. You know what, “I’m just going to get up.” I’m just going to leave a message. I was hoping to hear from her. A couple weeks later, she called me back. And I guess, the rest is history!
Q: Did you have to travel pretty far?
A: We drove. Our Grandma was so excited for us. We all just packed up and go. We went on a little road trip for a couple days.
Q: How was your experience with Dr. Waibel?
A: Honestly Dr. Waibel is one of the most amazing persons I have ever met in my life. She is so kind hearted, and truly cares about people’s well-being. She does anything in her power to help them and make something work. She is a strong role model for me, she’s like a mentor. Not only a friend and a doctor, but she is just very inspiring. She is an amazing person, definitely.
Q: Any last remarks? How you’d want to make this better for anybody else?
A: If anybody was in our situation, before we got the laser treatment, the medical field is developing so fast. This laser treatment hopefully just touches the surface of what is yet to come to help burn scars.
Just be hopeful and positive. Try to look at the bright side of things.
Q: Have you ever been to a burn center?
A: Yeah, there was a Shiner’s hospital in Galveston. We were treated there with our surgeries. We went to Shriners every year until we were 18. To get checkups and surgery. It was a burn hospital.
Q: Was it scary?
A: For our grandparents and aunt and uncle and dad. It was so hard for them to see the children who were horribly burned. It was so sad. As a child, I was kind of oblivious. I didn’t really pay attention. As I was getting older, I was like I am so blessed and lucky.
Even though all this happened to me, it could have been a million times worse. It was really overwhelming. Just seeing the hopeless little kids. Just seeing the hardships they were in for. And their future, it’s really sad. It makes you so grateful for everything you had.
It was for the best. We are in great places now.
Q: You are so positive
A: Thank you. I’m just lucky that we have that positivity instilled in us.
Q: Can you tell me about Three for Hope?
A: We help others get the laser treatments and stuff. It’s just moral and emotional support for other people.
Q: Would you be interested later if I contacted you later about Three for Hope?
A: Yeah, that would be amazing.