MIAMI, Fla. – These lasers are erasing painful memories with the power of light.
"This was one of the worst moments of my life because I was the best man at my friends’ wedding and they have the entire wedding party move and shift because my skin was so bad," said Ana Szolodko.
Szolodko started developing cystic acne when she was 23 years old with large red bumps that were painful and swollen. Her face was at war. For years she battled it and when the acne went away it left behind deep facial scarring.
"I spent years depressed having that skin is like wearing clothes that you hate every day and people comment on it," Szolodko said.
Shari Sussman was in a different fight that lasers could also address. She suffered from surgical scaring after battling breast cancer.
"It went from a regular mastectomy to radical mastectomy. Radical is where they take everything including the tissue the muscles and tendons and everything so all that's left is just skin," Sussman explained.
Sussman eventually got implants, but she's never been the same.
"When they went in I had scars I have scars across I have scars underneath and I have scars down my arm and they were very predominant and wearing a short sleeve shirt or a lift my arms people would stare," she said.
Sussman is a runner and her workout clothes show her scars. Szolodko is a teacher and said even her kids would ask questions about her scarring.
The two women stumbled on Miami dermatologist Dr. Jill Waibel in different ways, but she could help them both with the same tool.
"With acne scars it's always a journey, it's like filling a hole with dirt you're filling collagen." said Waibel.
Szolodko’s scars were so deep she could put her finger inside them and now after several months of laser treatment things are changing.
"For the first time in over 25 years I feel like I feel like my outside matches my inside I look like me and I don't feel ashamed looking in the mirror and I don't feel embarrassed like I'm wearing some kind of ugly mask on every day," Szolodko said.
The laser treatments take time because during the months in between, the skin has to heal building collagen.
"It's going to take time you're going to have to be patient I'm going to have to be patient but it works I've never treated a patient in 10 years that hasn't gotten better with lasers," added Waibel.
Waibel has dozens of lasers and she picks them like a composer produces music. They all do something different: Some are harsher than others and she has to be thoughtful about her plan, but she doesn't take the credit.
"It's the lasers that are the ones,” said Waibel.
"No, you are the one," Szolodko said to Waibel.
Most treatments are less than 30 minutes at a time, and patients leave a little red -- like they have a sunburn. But for Sussman, it's well worth. The treatment is her opportunity to fully embrace that she survived cancer and now, she can run on.
"After the six treatment you can really see the difference,” said Sussman. “There's certain areas that you can't even tell there was a scar there.”
Both ladies are grateful because they had started to give up on the life they once knew and loved. But slowly with lasers, the future is looking bright.
The treatments are not covered by insurance and prices range based on the different procedures. According to Waibel, surgical scars can range in price from $300 to $500 per treatment, depending on the size and number of scars. As for treating acne scars, the price can range from about $1,200 to $1,800 per treatment. Burn and trauma can start at about $500 and can run up to about $2,000 per treatment, based on size. For more information you can go to http://www.miamidermlaser.com/jill-waibel/.