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Dr Jill Waibel

Dr. Jill Waibel: Bringing Hope to Burn Victims

October 22, 2010

Written for Scars1 by Michelle Alford

Jill Waibel, M.D., is an award-winning dermatologist. Best known for her work with burn patients, Dr. Waibel is an innovator in the field of laser surgery. Her groundbreaking procedures benefit burn patients both medically and cosmetically.

Dr. Waibel graduated at the top of her class from Wright State University's School of Medicine. She currently owns her own private practice and serves as a Clinical Voluntary Professor at the University of Miami. In addition, she is a diplomat at the American Board of Dermatology and a Fellow in the American Academy of Dermatology.

Dr. Waibel has published research in several journals, including Dermatologic Therapy and the American Journal of Hematology. She has also been featured by the Today Show, ABC News, People Magazine, and Glamour Magazine.

In 2005, a unique burn patient inspired Dr. Waibel to push the boundaries of burn scar treatments in modern medicine.  A grease fire burned over fifty percent of Tami Kuether’s body. Third degree burns covered her chest, legs, arms, and face. Despite this, Kuether did not give up. She believed in Dr. Waibel’s ability to improve her condition.

How to Prevent Burn Scars
  • Immediately immerse burn in cold water and keep submerged for 10-15 minutes.
  • Apply ice to burned skin on and off for six hours after sustaining the burn.
  • If burn blisters, bandage. Be careful not to pop blisters.
  • Do not apply scar creams or treatments to open wounds.
  • Lemon juice, Aloe Vera, and cocoa butter can help to lessen scarring. Scar creams are also available over the counter.
  • Burn scars are extremely difficult to treat. Historically, few treatments have been able to improve the appearance of burn scars. Third degree burns leave thick, rigid, and discolored skin that doesn’t respond well to medication.

    Dr. Waibel repurposed laser technology previously used to treat acne scars and wrinkles. Her innovative technique uses heat to remove a portion of the scar and allow healthy skin to regrow. Called an ultrapulse fractional ablative laser, it penetrates the scarred skin with dozens of tiny holes and stimulates collagen growth. Patients have to wait several months to see the results, but with this new treatment, their burn scars are decreased by up to eighty percent.

    Burn scars impact not just the victims’ health, but also their self-esteem. People find it difficult not to stare at these noticeable scars. Burn victims often feel like outcasts and avoid activities that would require them to reveal scarred skin. Emerging treatments allow patients to return to their previous lifestyles with newfound confidence.

    One of Dr. Waibel’s most memorable cases involved treating identical triplets who had been severely burned as toddlers. The three sisters were only 17 months old when they were caught in a house fire that caused third degree burns on their torsos and faces. Throughout their childhoods, they were ridiculed and taunted by the other children. When they were 22, they approached Dr. Waibel for help. Her techniques significantly improved their appearance as well as their quality of life. They have since started the Three for Hope foundation to help other burn patients pay their medical bills.

    Dr. Waibel has found working with burn patients to be inspirational. They possess amazing determination and hope, and she is proud to be a part of their transformation. 

    Last updated: 22-Oct-10

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