Solution 15:24 04 Apr 2023

Ukrainian initiative returns beauty to war survivors

The Neopalymi aesthetic medicine initiative unites clinics across Ukraine to give those who suffered disfiguring injuries in war the opportunity to undergo a course of treatment and get a chance for a new life free of charge. Its mission is to help every Ukrainian recover from the war's severe consequences. Rubryka learned about the rehabilitation process, how laser therapy works, and how many people the initiative can help.

What is the solution?
Because of the war, thousands of Ukrainians get scars

Natalya and her family faced russia's full-scale invasion in Mariupol. The intensity of shelling at the beginning of March 2022 prevented the family from leaving. They remained in the city during the blockade. One day, Natalya's sons stayed in the basement while she and her husband, Andrii, went to the apartment to pack their things. But another shelling began.

The attack injured Natalya's hands and disfigured her face. She told Neopalymi's doctors that she can't move her hand because of the many fragments of shrapnel lodged in her hand, face, and head that shattered her nerves and were difficult to remove. 


Natalya during one of the laser therapy procedures. Photo: "Neopalymi"

Andrii was able to take his family to Zaporizhzhia, where Natalya underwent four extremely complex operations, one lasting six hours with ten doctors operating.

"I'm 38, my life is crippled, and I don't know how to live with it… I cry a lot. It's impossible not to cry. I'm pulling myself together because I have a five-year-old son who needs me. I want to return my beauty so that I would not be ashamed to go out with him," Natalya says.

She is currently undergoing rehabilitation thanks to the Neopalymi initiative.

"The flame that approached" 

Artem Melnyk joined a volunteer battalion in Kyiv almost immediately after the start of the full-scale invasion. On March 20, he was on duty near the Retroville shopping center when a Dagger missile hit the building.

"At that time, I was talking on the phone in the car in the parking lot. 200-250 meters from the missile strike. I didn't hear any whistle or explosion. I just saw the blast wave and flames coming towards my car. Everything else, I remember in fragments," Melnyk recalls. "I was thrown from the car. I don't know how long I lay on the asphalt. When I regained consciousness, I tried to get up. Everything was in ruins from the shopping center. I got up, fell, and got up again. I didn't feel the pain then. I walked a little and then lost consciousness," says the serviceman.

відновлення після війни

Artem undergoing the procedure. Photo: "Neopalymi"

Over 30% of Melnyk's skin was damaged with third and fourth degree burns. He also sustained barotrauma, a concussion, and broken ribs. Melnyk has now undergone eight operations, and Neopalymi is supporting him with laser grinding and special injections that will improve the skin's quality and restore the limbs' functionality.

War always, first of all, brings devastating personal consequences. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers defend Ukraine on the front line. Thousands more support from the rear lines. But no one is safe from air raids that can come at any time. Because of military operations in Ukraine, thousands of Ukrainians have already received burns and scars. This causes discomfort, self-doubt, or severe health consequences.

What is the solution?
Neopalymi gives the opportunity to undergo treatment for scars on the skin for free

Neopalymi is a new Ukrainian initiative in aesthetic medicine that aims to help as many Ukrainians as possible who have suffered burns or scars due to the war. Volunteers of the initiative attract clinics that will be able to provide the patient with a full course of treatment, providing these clinics with drugs and technical and material needs. Such a course is completely free for the survivors.

How does it work?
18 private clinics in Ukraine's 13 regions

As of February 7, 2023, 18 private clinics in 13 regions of Ukraine have joined Neopalymi. The initiative's volunteers unite clinics, ensure communication, and find people who need treatment.

"We, as the Neopalymi project, directly provide clinics with all pharmaceutical supplies and do all the administrative work. Treatment takes place on the spot in clinics," says the CEO of Neopalymi, Maksym Turkevych.

Максим Туркевич

Maksym Turkevych. Photo: Turkevych's Facebook page

Turkevych's father works as a dermatologist. Before the full-scale invasion, he was engaged in aesthetic medicine and scar removal. After russia's invasion in 2022, the family took a fresh look at people's need for this kind of rehabilitation.

When it became clear to them that thousands of Ukrainians receive injuries from mines or shrapnel, which can leave numerous scars –  they decided to establish an initiative to help their fellow citizens struggling with this ordeal. The project's development began in March, and began to  take the first patients for treatment in August.

This field is generally little-studied both in Ukraine and globally. There are several leading specialists who conduct internal training in this direction for doctors in Ukraine to improve their knowledge constantly. As part of the Neopalymi initiative, protocols for burn injuries are currently being developed, aiming to be the best in the world for this type of injury. 

"It's just that the world has never encountered anything like it," Turkevych explains.

Everyone can receive help from Neopalymi — both civilians and military. The only criterion is having been injured due to military action.

Treatment with 6 to 12 procedures of laser therapy, with possible surgical interventions 

Cosmetic surgery is typically expensive. The cost of one procedure can reach thousands of dollars. And a complete course of treatment can include from six to 12 such procedures. Therefore, Neopalymi attracts foreign sponsors and partners, among them L'oreal Group, Totis Pharma, Euro Estet Group and others.

"For a patient, the treatment can take six to twelve months. That is, there should be a break between the procedures, depending on each case. Therefore, on average, it is just one procedure per month," explains Turkevych.

Laser therapy is used for treatment. Turkevych says that "this is a super-aggressive procedure." The laser burns out the damaged skin area, and then drugs are injected into the scar, smoothing it from the inside for further effective laser removal.

Неопалимі, фотопроєкт

Ilya is one of the patients of the "Neopalymi" project. Photo: "Neopalymi"

"An injection of polynucleotides is done, and when the skin is further cut with a laser, the scar is better amenable to grinding. Not everything can be corrected with a laser, and sometimes a person has to be referred to a surgeon. 16 of our 18 clinics deal with laser therapy, and two with surgical therapy," says Neopalymi's CEO.

Does it really work?
70 people are undergoing treatment, and several hundred more can be taken

Turkevych explains that, in reality, the scar does not actually disappear. Laser or surgical therapy helps to remove its external manifestation. But with the help of modern technologies and specialists, it is possible to remove most of the damage to the skin. Each case is unique, but each patient will usually see positive results.

In mid-December, Neopalymi became an official partner of the Ministry of Health.

лазерна терапія

Laser therapy procedure. Photo: "Neopalymi"

As of February, approximately 70 people are already undergoing rehabilitation through the Neopalymi initiative. Turkevych does not name the exact number of people they will be able to help. The project itself plans to expand to attract more clinics, specialists, and partners. The more of them there are, the more Ukrainians can receive help.

At this stage, Neopalymi can take several hundred more Ukrainians for treatment. Anyone who needs recovery from injuries can apply.

To become a participant in the rehabilitation program from Neopalymi, one needs to fill out the questionnaire on their website.

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