After severe chemical burns, Nashville woman finds hope through laser treatment

Rachael McKenzie (Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A slip on a household product left a Nashville woman severely burned.

Rachael McKenzie suffered third-degree chemical burns, but now she is gaining her life back.

“I didn’t feel like myself. I didn’t recognize myself. It was a very hard time. I was very sad,” McKenzie told News 2.

She was a sophomore in college in 2009 when she attended a Halloween party.

“At the house that we were at, for whatever reason, there was a bottle of floor stripper that somebody had knocked over and spilled,” she explained.

McKenzie said she slipped on the chemical but didn’t think much of it.

“I thought it was water, it was odorless and so I slipped and fell on my back,” she explained.

But about a half hour later, she felt her back begin to burn. “It was incredibly painful.”

That’s when McKenzie realized that the floor stripping chemicals were eating at her skin.

“It was completely black; it looked charred,” she said.

McKenzie told News 2 she suffered third degree chemical burns and was hospitalized for weeks. She was left with physical scars that she had to constantly cover up, so she decided to seek help.

“The psychological effects of scarring, especially scarring that changes the way you feel other people would perceive you, are really profound,” Dr. Brian Biesman said.

McKenzie started seeing Dr. Biesman at the Nashville Centre for Laser & Facial Surgery for Treatment.

“There’s a lot of different kind of scars that can follow after surgery or trauma, and Rachael had about every combination that exists,” Biesman explained.

Biesman used laser treatments on McKenzie’s burns regularly for about two years and saw incredible results.

(Courtesy: Dr. Brian Biesman )
(Courtesy: Dr. Brian Biesman )

“I started getting a sense of myself back and feeling confident,” said McKenzie.

She told News 2 the results have given her the confidence she once had.

She is able to wear outfits that she thought she never would again; she landed a new job and was recently engaged.

“I feel like I’m in my skin again and I didn’t feel like that for a long time. You know, he gave me my life back. ”

McKenzie and Dr. Biesman want others to know there is hope.

“It totally changes their lives. It’s really one of the most rewarding things that we do,” Biesman said. “I enjoy seeing that type of change because this is really why we went in to medicine, is to change lives in a positive way.”

McKenzie still sees Biesman for treatment. He says laser treatments can run anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to thousands.

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