Solution 12:20 03 Jan 2023

NoScar: how Ukrainians are helped to get rid of scars of war

War leaves scars — on the cities, our psyche, and the skin of thousands of Ukrainians. The latter is not only a matter of aesthetics. Scars remind people of their most difficult days and prevent them from living in reality, not in memories. To help such people — Ukrainians forced to bear the scars of war — the free NoScar initiative united the best domestic plastic surgeons. Find out how it works in our article.

What is the problem?

One explosion and dozens of scars

Tetiana Khomenko is 19. At the beginning of the full-scale war, the girl left for the Kyiv region, to the house where she was born and grew up. She spent the night from March 27 to 28 in the basement with her mother and nephews; at that time, active fighting was taking place in the Zhytomyr direction. 

When Tania left the basement at six in the morning to prepare breakfast for the children, a russian shell fell near the house. The girl says that after the explosion, she tried to get up and shout for everyone to run to the basement, but she could not shout anything. Tania did not immediately realize that she was seriously injured.


Shards of glass from the windows cut the entire left side of her face. The girl's nephew remained under the rubble of the house, and her sister too. While people were trying to save them, Tania herself was taken away by the military and rushed to the hospital. On the way, the girl removed the glass fragments from her face.  

Because of the war, there are thousands of similar stories in Ukraine. People are injured every day, and if the state guarantees the treatment of fractures, lacerations, and other injuries, then aesthetic medicine is unfortunately not included in this list. But Ukrainians do not choose the path of tolerance, they do not want to live with scars on their faces or in their hearts, so they find solutions to even the most challenging problems.

What is the solution?

A third of plastic surgeons in Ukraine agreed to perform free operations

Modern plastic surgery can hide the unpleasant marks left by the war on people's faces and bodies. Ukrainians can get rid of their scars for free thanks to the NoScar initiative, which united volunteer doctors from all over the country. 

Any Ukrainian man or woman who suffered from hostilities and now has scars can get professional help and eliminate unpleasant memories of terrible events. Yulia Demtsova started the project.

"The NoScar solution arose as a volunteer initiative. I did not seek any funding for it. It appeared as an idea in mid-March and was launched at the beginning of May," says the founder of NoScar.

NoScar Юлія Демцова

During this time, Yulia gathered more than 40 plastic surgeons who volunteered to make free scar corrections for those who received them due to the war. 

"We gathered the first volunteers (among plastic surgeons, — ed.) from different cities of Ukraine. Half a hundred specialists is a large number because there are only about 150-200 plastic surgeons in Ukraine. Someone works more actively, someone works less, so we think that 40 people is a pretty good percentage."

The first partners also responded to the initiative: the Helsi, where you can now submit an application for an operation, and Polytech Ukraine, the largest distributor of implants in Ukraine. 

From the beginning, the initiative was designed as free or almost free assistance — some doctors agreed to perform operations on condition of payment for materials. Still, Yulia says that none has paid anything among the 30 patients who have already undergone procedures.

How did Tania's story end?

First aid to the girl was provided by military medics who were nearby. Plastic surgeon Andrii Vasiliev carefully sewed up the cuts on the face. Later, the girl learned about the NoScar initiative. 

Then the rehabilitation process was managed online by plastic surgeon Serhii Koroliuk. The basis of treatment is drugs that reduce scars and make them more flexible.


Tetiana participated in the NoScar program. 

Scars are almost invisible on Tania's face now. Moreover, the girl was contacted by Playboy Ukraine magazine and offered to appear in a special issue. The girl agreed to the shooting. 


During the entire existence of the NoScar initiative, they received more than 300 applications, all of them very different:

"There are both men and women from very different cities and towns in Ukraine. The only thing we didn't receive was applications from children, and I don't know if that's good or bad," says Yulia. 

Thirty people have already received their free corrections. At the same time, part of the operations remains behind the scenes because the soldiers also turned to the charitable initiative and could not show their faces. The rest are either waiting for the completion of medical treatment or facing other obstacles.

How does it work?

Someone who wants to remove scars can leave an application on the NoScar website.

You don't have to wait long. When an application is received, NoScar assesses its complexity and determines which doctors can take on a specific task according to the specifics of their work. Choosing the right surgeon and doing everything the first time is crucial. 


"We will find out where the patient is and in which city it will be more convenient for them. Next, we give the patient a choice of several doctors. Patients can familiarize themselves with various jobs, and they can go to an appointment and choose the doctor they are more comfortable working with. After all, good contact with the doctor and trust is an exact recipe for success," Yulia explains. 

All that remains after that is to agree on a time and prepare for the correction. But everything is not always so simple. Sometimes the aesthetic part of the treatment must be preceded by a purely medical one, where doctors deal with injuries — without this part, it is too early to talk about aesthetics:

"Recently, a patient from Vyshhorod contacted us, and we are waiting for the medical part of the treatment to pass so that we can return directly to the aesthetic one. The patient must have a complex operation, which includes the reconstruction of vision, face, and body. There are complicated cases. Often people who have passed the medical part of the treatment and are already physically ready for the aesthetic part say that they have to mentally prepare themselves to go through all the procedures again." 

Treatment can take 2-3 months, but in some cases, it can last up to a year. But when the treatment and rehabilitation stages are completed, the patient can already turn to a plastic surgeon to remove scars or make them less noticeable.

Is there a guarantee that the specialist will perform free work with high quality?

The organizers of the charitable initiative are confident about the quality of the work of any specialist. This is important because each subsequent operation is more complex than the previous one, and each subsequent intervention by a plastic surgeon reduces the probability of a successful outcome. 

"The people participating in the initiative are respectable doctors, not beginners. Many doctors have been working in plastic surgery for 15 to 20 years. As organizers, we know very well what they are capable of and are confident in the quality of their work and that nothing will need to be redone. These are recognized doctors in Ukraine," Yuliya assures. 

What can prevent plastic surgery?

The only problem is the distance and the question of where the patient will live during the aesthetic treatment. If the patient lives in the east of Ukraine, and the doctor who can perform the procedure is in Kyiv, they will still have travel and accommodation costs even though the surgery is free. And the expenses, even if you stay in the capital for two weeks, will already be rounded up to 10-15 thousand hryvnias. People don't always have money for that. Yulia calls this a serious obstacle for many.

But there is also good news. NoScar assures that the initiative is open-ended and will work as long as people apply. This means the future patient has time to save money for travel and accommodation. In addition, NoScar is currently seeking additional funding opportunities for the initiative.

"Scars can be removed by almost 90%, and you can live more peacefully. With modern technology, this is more than possible. There is no need to walk around with scars and try to constantly cover them with hair or cosmetics, to be ashamed of them," Yulia concludes. 

Moreover, this is more than possible while such initiatives exist. 


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