|GARY NYLANDER/The Daily Courier|
Zach Williams, 10, receives laser treatments at Advantage Body Clinic in Kelowna to erase the scar from a vicious dog bite he suffered a year and a half ago.
"I'm over the bite. I don't really want to think of it anymore."
Discussion closed with Zach.
But the discussion is very much open with Zach's mom, Tamie, and Kathryn Johnson, co-owner of Advantage Body Clinic on Springfield Road, which is performing a series of
innovative scar erasing treatments on Zach.
"The dog attack was over a year and a half ago, but after the initial treatment of closing up the wound with 40 stitches we had to take a wait-and-see approach to see if the muscle was damaged and what the scar would look like as it healed and Zach grew," said Tamie.
The doctor who sewed Zach up did a fantastic job and the starburst-shaped wound has healed well, she said, but it is still very visible.
"We had to be very diligent in our follow up," explained Tamie.
"We had to clean up the ooze from the scar and always be using sunscreen and special oils as new skin grew. But there is still quite a scar and every time we see it, it reminds us of that day he was attacked.
"Of course, we'd like to get rid of that constant physical reminder of the tragedy."
The first option was plastic surgery.
But the plastic surgeon felt because Zach is young and regenerating new skin so well that laser treatments should be tried first.
When the story of Zach's injury was first in the news, business partners Kathryn Johnson and Karen Pettinger at Advantage Body Clinic saw the coverage and felt the laser treatments they offer could reduce the scar when the time came.
Johnson didn't know Zach, but her husband did - he is Zach's dentist.
Zach has now undergone the first two of six laser sessions Advantage Body Clinic is doing for free.
Usually the treatments are $150 each.
"We're doing if for free because Zach can really benefit from this and both my partner and I want to give back to the
community," said Johnson.
"Scars often have an emotional negative attachment so reducing them as much as possible is helpful. Plus, I have kids and this affected me and I wanted to help out in any way I could."
The laser treatments are done with a Palomar Starluxe 1540 machine that emits a fractional beam of light that acts like a lawn aeration on the skin.
The light breaks down scar tissue and forces new skin to grow, smoother and lighter than the coarse and discoloured scar.
The treatments are done every three weeks and can be a little painful and cause some swelling as the skin resurfaces.
"It's possible with repeated treatments, usually six or more, to see a 100 per cent reduction in the scar," said Johnson.
"We'll do four more treatments on Zach, possibly more if he needs it. He is young and healing beautifully."
Generally, such laser treatments are cosmetic to reduce surgical scars, stretch marks, acne scars or to fight aging with skin tightening.
In 2011, Zach, then 8, and his mom were at a friend's place where a six-year-old pitbull was lying on the couch with Zach was petting it. Suddenly, the dog lunged and badly gashed Zach's cheek with its teeth.
Zach was rushed to Kelowna General Hospital and the dog was seized.
The dog was put down shortly after because it had injured another person previously and had been ticketed as an
aggressive dog. Zach and his mom did not seek charges.
However, Tamie has become active with groups that support families after a dog bite and lobby for tougher dangerous dog legislation.