BOSTON — In April 2014, a team of three dermatology laser specialists from the United States (US) returned to Yerevan, Armenia to further the development of a state of the art laser dermatology center for treatment of scars and vascular anomalies. The team of US physicians consisted of Dr. R. Rox Anderson of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Dr. Lilit Garibyan of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Dr. Nishan Goudsouzian of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and Dr. H. Ray Jalian of UCLA Medical Center, and Dr. Christine Avakoff, who is in private practice. Building on their first mission in 2013, the team’s main goal was to establish a permanent presence in Yerevan, to bring lasers, to train local doctors to allow continuity of care to patients with vascular birthmarks and scars.
In collaboration with local plastic surgeons and Arabkir Medical Center and the Armenian American Wellness Center, the team evaluated close to 120 patient and treated over 50 patients including several cases under general anesthesia. Thanks to the generous support of Candela-Syneron, permanent installations of the GentleMax Laser (used to treat vascular birthmarks) and the AlexTriVantage (used to treat traumatic tattoos and pigmented lesions) donated by Candela-Syneron laser company were left in Arabkir Medical Center. In addition, a donation by Dr. Christine Avakoff allowed for the permanent installation of the Pulsed Dye Laser (used to treat vascular birthmark and scars) at the Armenian American Wellness Center. With this donation, the team performed the first ever pulse dye laser treatment of a port wine stain in Armenia. This treatment, which has been standard of care for port wine stains and other vascular birthmarks in the US for more than 10 years, will greatly impact the lives of young children with these potentially disfiguring lesions.
In addition to the treatment of patients, the team organized an education seminar for local physicians hosted by Lumenis, Inc. laser company to provided information on the laser technologies and how it can be used to treat a variety of medical conditions. Lumenis also sponsored the shipment and use of a laser for scar treatments. There are plans under way now to obtain a laser for scar treatment that can permanently be housed in Arabkir hospital. The ultimate goal of this mission is to establish a sustainable laser center in Yerevan.
This was the teams second mission trip to Armenia and now they feel one step closer to the goal to establishing a medical laser center in Arabkir Pediatric Hospital where plastic surgeons, Dr. Hrachya and Alina Arshakyan, were trained to perform laser procedures for children with vascular anomalies and scars.
“Unfortunately, sometimes the most effective and innovative healthcare technologies don’t get to the patients who need them most,” said Anderson. “We’re determined to change that.”
Children with burn injuries or vascular birthmarks, whether they live in the suburbs of New York City or a small village in Armenia – should have access to treatments medical lasers treatments.