New York City experienced a disturbing rash of seemingly random slashings earlier this year, with 23 reported by March. One victim was Amanda Morris, 24, who was walking to her job in the city’s Chelsea neighborhood early in the morning when a man approached her out of nowhere and sliced her face with a sharp object. And the shock to Morris was compounded by how fast the surgeons worked to stitch her up, leaving a very visible scar.
Dermatologist Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali, of N.Y.C.’s Sadick Dermatology, saw the story on the news and knew he had to help in some way. “All the stuff that happened was pretty close to our office,” he says. “Because Chelsea is a nice area, people are super friendly and we were all reading about it obsessively. I remember seeing a link to [Morris’] GoFundMe page — at first I was like, oh, I can contribute to this. Then I was like wait, in theory we contribute to finding somebody to help treat that. I was like, I do that! Wait a second. It kind of just hit me that I can help. So I reached out and I sent an email, I think there was a GoFundMe account and I just said, Look, it’s kind of scary, but I am here to help. If you need somebody, if you want to talk about all this kind of [cosmetic] stuff, please come in.”
Morris initially hesitated, but decided to hear what Bhanusali had to say. “When I first went in, I was so nervous. It t was the first time I ever had stitches and numbing in my face, and I was like, I don’t want any more treatments — but I knew I had to do it ’cause it was a good opportunity.”
Bhanusali knew that with the wound and the stitches, they’d have to act fast to prevent further scarring, so within a week of her stitches coming out, he began the procedure. He had to resculpt her nose, then used micro-needling and lasers to start treating her as quickly as possible.
“You want to stay in front of it — I like to go as aggressive as I can,” Bhanusali said of the treatments, which included cortisone injections, Cutera lasers and Skinceuticals products. “That we can do things like that that even two, three years ago we never would have imagined being able to do, it’s nice. I am a big proponent of utilizing the technology and the lasers but also using topical medications, because the idea is that when you’re doing any kind of procedure you’re inducing damage to the skin in a way, and then it’s going to heal. I’m using these lasers, now I can deliver things [to the skin] that I otherwise couldn’t get to where it needed to be. A fun part is that we get good results ”
Morris admitted to having some fear when she walked into his office: “I was like, Needles, oh my God. What am I getting myself into?” but says that Bhanusali’s demeanor and her determination to move past the attack kept her going back. “I was really motivated. A lot of people were coming up to me and emailing me, and I was like, Yes, I need to do this. I kind of felt like it was my responsibility to be strong. And when he messaged me, I was like, i should do all the opportunities that come to me.”
And Bhanusali had no doubt the could deliver on that opportunity. “At the practice I’m at, Sadick Dermatology. we have literally access to every kind of technology, so I knew that no matter what I was faced with I had some option of what I could use,” he explains. “With her specifically I knew that she was young, I knew that this was relatively recent so it was a good chance for recovery. You just absolutely have to [help someone in her position]. For me I’m like if there’s any inclination, any chance that I could help, it’s just there’s no question. Just go for it.”
For her part, Morris is thrilled with the results, which she says showed within a month. “I remember one day I was going to put on makeup and I was just like, I don’t even need makeup today. It’s amazing,” she said. “Then I was taking a bunch of pictures and I did an interview and I was so confident I didn’t even want to wear makeup. It’s really nice and it’s extra special to me because I had really bad skin in high school so the fact that people were complimenting me on my skin, I was like oh my God. It was like a dream come true. I just wanted to be known for having good skin. It’s so funny.”
She and Bhanusali have reached out to other victims to offer his services, but she says many people have been private about their experience and hesitant to come forward. “I think that’s why most people don’t want to do interviews too because it’s like, admitting that this happened to you and talking about it over and over. But I feel like it made me feel better,” Morris says. And Bhanusali says he’s determined to continue to offer his services to slashing victims and veterans, through a foundation called Restoring Heroes. “Not to be cliché but I think everything is possible now,” he says. “We can get good results that people wouldn’t otherwise have ever dreamed of.”
Are you inspired by their story?