For every life-changing experience we encounter, there’s usually some sort of trade off to some degree. When plastic surgery is the case, your biggest flaws can be permanently fixed as long as you can accept the scars that come along with the procedure (key word being accept, here). But a new post-surgical treatment is gaining traction that can genuinely transform the look of scars—sometimes giving up to 80 percent improvement—and make even the gnarliest, darkest and most tangled up of scars into almost virgin-like skin again.
Deemed The DC Method, scar expert Linda Dunn Carter invented the treatment about 12 years ago after receiving her state board license to practice aesthetics. “I immediately went to train in permanent cosmetics and scar relaxation, which makes the scar less painful and relaxes it. I started to think about how I could use the tattoo machine to safely injure the skin and then repair it afterward,” she says. An advocate for regaining self-confidence, Dunn Carter went on a quest to figure out how to significantly change the appearance, texture, color and visibility of scars, or in some instances, make them go away completely.
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“With all the plastic surgery going on these days, scars are becoming more of an epidemic than ever before and compromising people’s lives in a very traumatic way,” says Dunn Carter. Customary surgery scars are one thing, but being botched is another. As “plastic surgery gone wrong” statistics steadily climb, the number of second-rate results with harrowing scars seems to be the undesirable life-long accessory that comes as part of the package. “What these surgeons are leaving these women with are terrible scars, and it’s a sad case of affairs. I want to help everyone because these scars are a deep, dark problem that looms over the lives of those affected by them. They cry on my table and the stories behind these scars are so emotional,” she adds.
With three locations at the moment—Scottsdale, AZ, Miami Beach and Manhattan; a Beverly Hills, CA outpost is in the works—Dunn Carter, who herself works on every square inch of each patient she sees, sometimes upwards of three hours in a single session, possesses a special knack to not only creating a disappearing act, but also reviving the skin. Different from simply infusing the skin with pigment to hide any trace of discoloration or abnormalities in the skin, what Dunn Carter does is next-level. “There’s a real science behind what I do,” she says. “There are a lot of tattoo artists out there who are just trying to put color into scars, messing them up and making things so much worse.”
What has developed into a full-time business, Dunn Carter started with a self-made aggregation of protocols and procedures that she says garners great results, in essence doing away with the lingering scars that had become so debilitating for so many women. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I first started out with this. There wasn’t a specific course I could take or school I could go to, so I just dug deep into medical journals, asked a lot of questions to personnel in teaching hospitals (John Hopkins and Mount Sinai) and joined webinars to soak up as much knowledge I could,” she explains. “In 2007, I started my case studies with people lined up out the door who wanted to be a part of my crazy idea to reprogram the skin. I was shocked to see the results as my patients returned a few weeks later for their next procedure.” She also admits that she “crashed and burned a lot,” but recognized the value in helping those who really needed her.
As if having a scar across your stomach isn’t bad enough, there’s a whole movement of women that resort to hip-to-hip tattoos—usually consisting of vines or a bed of roses—placed over an existing large scar as a camouflage tactic. “They don’t have to do that. When you tattoo with a color and design over a scar, you have the problem of additional scarring,” says Dunn Carter. And, if you ever decide to remove the tattoo, well good luck.
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As expensive as plastic surgery itself, Dunn Carter charges anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 for a full-course treatment—she says patients don’t blink an eye or balk at the price—which takes, on average, six to 12 months. She starts every patient off with an online consultation first, and once they’ve committed, devises a plan of attack because the approach to new scars is not the same as it is with older scars due to differences in the tissue. “I look at the scar and try to get 80 percent improvement; sometimes I can make the scar disappear. I basically reprogram and rebirth the skin by telling it to transform. Skin has a memory and by consistently giving it direction to change, it does.”
Each session consists of more or less the same protocol. “I always repair the skin first and when it gets to a certain point, I either add or delete pigment,” she explains. “Each time I abrade the skin, another layer of dark pigment surfaces—it goes all the way down to the dermal layer. This process creates new tissue, but it also causes the dark pigment to purge.” The long and short of it is that a digital rotary tattoo machine tool is used to physically breakdown scar tissue under the skin by successfully snapping the bands of connective tissue. “A lot of times I don’t need to add pigment to camouflage the scar—I only do that when the scar is white. But I can mix flesh-toned pigment in so the scar and surrounding skin match.” To induce healthy skin and prompt new tissue formation, she also throws bovine stem cells and high-frequency galvanic into the mix.
Bypassing the use of lasers of any kind, Dunn Carter hand tools each and every scar, and stretch mark, too. “Lasers can’t get under the skin and release the fibers in the scar tissue,” she says, adding that the hardest scars to fix are those from breast lifts and tummy tucks due to the amount of thick, fatty layers under the skin, as well as uneven scars. Plus, everyone heals differently and each surgeon has their own technique, which can, in unfortunate circumstances, leave the unlucky ones with scars that aren’t low and well-hidden, but rather smack in the middle of their stomachs (in the case of a tummy tuck).
“I had one woman come to me with tummy tuck and breast lift scars that went all the way around her back. They were not only horrific and huge, but they also physically hurt her,” says Dunn Carter. “To make matters worse, she told me she didn’t really want the breast lift, but her doctor talked her into it. After working on her for two years, her scars look so much better, but they will never get to where she wants them to be.”
Another difficult type of scar to fix: keloids, which are raised, puffy and dark, can be itchy or painful, and result from excess collagen growth in response to a wound.“Brazilian Butt Lift scars, although small, can keloid on the core, butt and back, which seems to really bother women who have had the procedure.” Dunn Carter always suggests that patients start to manage their scars as soon as any drains and external sutures have been removed or the internal stitches have dissolved.” Despite the fact that, for the most part, most of us can’t predict how our skin will scar, Dunn Carter suggests patients also follow a protocol prior to surgery, too, that consists of topical nutrients and chemical peels to strengthen skin and get it prepped for the trauma it’s about to endure. “Getting the skin in shape before undergoing surgery gives it more elasticity and pliability so that when the incision is made, skin is in top condition and ready for what it’s about to go through.”
After the first few months of treatment, skin is softer, smoother and more even in color. And the results (they improve with each session) that Dunn Carter is able to accomplish are permanent. “The only thing patients have to do once they’ve finished the entire series is come in every so often to get a touch-up of color if it needs to be put back in. Keeping the skin fresh and healthy by eliminating any dead skin on the scar with in-office microdermabrasion helps, too,” she says. “There’s a lot of emotion behind scars that women wear. Knowing that I can help them and boost their self-confidence is worth everything.”
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