Monday, October 3, 2011


Army Medical Corps motto

        Last week I attended a lecture given by an Air Force dermatologist entitled "Botox and Lasers: Restoring Function to Our Wounded Warriors".  Just fascinating.  He uses Botox to quell the sweating at the stump where a prosthetic limb slides on with a Neoprene sleeve- by chemically removing the sweat glands with Botox and using lasers to remove the hair, the prosthetic is much less likely to slip off and the skin get infected (from infections that start and spread from the hair follicle). 
       The other aspect of laser treatment is softening and remodeling scars from skin grafts, both for cosmesis and for function- examples he gave were a soldier whose chest was bound with stiff circumferential scars that prevented him from expanding his chest and breathing fully, thus severely limiting his exercise tolerance.  After treatment the soldier was able to inspire more fully as the skin on his chest became more lax... and he could walk farther.  Similarly, laser treatments were able to soften scars of the antecubital fossa (the other side of the elbow) such that the patient could fully extend his arm.  Another patient- a decorated sniper- regained the function of his badly scarred trigger finger, which the dermatologist said, is not just important for function but for the restoration of self-image for people who define themselves but what they can do, and for the mission they perform for the military.
         Amazing work.  Here is LtCol Hivnor and one such wounded warrior:


  1. LOVE THIS! So relieved to hear real docs using Botox to change people's lives rather than what I heard last week - "my derm. botoxes her forehead in the car pool line"; thanks for being part of something awesome, Julie!

  2. Thanks Katherine! As a matter of full disclosure I received both Botox (for wrinkle prevention) and a laser treatment (for a dilated blood vessel on the tip of my nose) three days before I heard this presentation! So I am a believer in their cosmetic applications-- but the real power of these agents is social (Botox for sweaty palms, for instance, for people who don't shake hands because of their self-consciousness) and functionally (in the case of these soldiers). I just like to think the billions and billions of dollars spent for cosmetic reasons fuels the research and development of more innovations like this that will lead to improved quality of life whether dramatic and life-changing or subtle and confidence-boosting.