Laser Hair Removal. Well, Sort Of.
As aging women, we know to expect some changes to our face and bodies, and most are okay in an “as if I can stop it” sort of way. Others may come as a bit of a surprise. Not “SURPRISE! We’re giving you an all expense paid vacay” kind of surprise, but more of the “WHAT, IN THE NAME OF BABY HEYZUES, IS THAT!!” kind of surprise. For me, that was finding hair sprouting in places hair should never sprout.
The discovery of chin hairs was more than a little troubling. I’m not talking Ringling Bros or anything, but certainly enough to cause a nagging worry that, much like a vampire, hit with direct sunlight, my dirty little secret would be exposed. I spent so much time at the salon getting waxed that I finally decided it would be more convenient, and cost effective, to just buy a wax warmer and DIY. So that’s what I did. I bought a GIGI Wax Warmer, and I was satisfied with that for a couple of years.
Then I began to notice my mustache, that had always been baby fine and very light colored, was now getting a few dark colored hairs, as well. I couldn’t put makeup on or moisturize my face without first spending 20 minutes in my 10x magnifying mirror scouting for rouge facial hairs. More and more I’d find myself asking David to drive just so I could take advantage of the natural light, vanity mirror, and tinted windows in the passenger seat to tweeze. At that point, I knew I wanted, and needed, to do something more permanent. I began to research Laser Hair Removal and Electrolysis. After researching both and taking into consideration both time and expense, I pretty quickly decided to start with Laser Hair Removal.
The Hairy Truth
Laser Hair Removal isn’t really “hair removal” at all. More accurately, it’s laser hair reduction. With the typical 6 treatments on the targeted area, you can expect about an 80% reduction in hair growth, though some can have a higher success rate while others can be slightly lower. Also important to know, the laser isn’t for everyone. Typically, lasers work best with dark hairs on fair and untanned complexions, though, from what I understand, there have been some advances for blonde hair and/or darker complexions. But, since I have a fair, untanned complexion and grow black hairs, it seemed to be a great fit for me. I was ready to move forward and scheduled an appointment with my dermatologist.
At my dermatologists office, I asked what he thought about having this type of treatment done at a spa. What I learned is, even in his office, he isn’t doing the procedure, his licensed aesthetician is. He was honest and explain to me that, as long as I made sure they were employing an experienced licensed aeathetician, and were using one of the newest lasers, there was no reason I shouldn’t feel comfortable going to a spa to have Laser Hair Removal. He gave me a list of spas that he knew had the latest and greatest lasers and employed licensed aestheticians, and even admitted I could probably have it done cheaper than at his office. And he was right! It was considerably less expensive at each of the spas he’d given me.
The Cost Of Beauty
I called each spa on the list and asked about fees for both areas. Most were in the same neighborhood of around $400 for 6 treatments on a small area. Since both my upper lip and chin were considered small area’s, my total cost was going to be just over $800. Not bad compared to my dermatologist’s fee’s, but still an investment. Also, I live in a very rural area outside of Indianapolis, so any spa on the list was going to be a drive for me. Since they all met the criteria set by my dermatologist, and they all charged about the same, I quickly decided the only logical way to choose a spa was to consider the shopping opportunities around each one! So, picking the spa nearest to my favorite shops, I called and made my appointment. Needing a Saturday appointment, I was told it would be about a 5 week wait.
During that time, I kept checking Groupon to see if I could get a better price, or even a discounted bundle package. Sure enough, about two weeks later one of the spas on my list was offering a deep savings on Laser Hair Removal to new clients. I could get both areas for 70% off their regular price and it was still near great shopping! I was in! Feeling comfortable giving almost a month’s notice, I canceled my appointment with the first spa and bought the Groupon. After calling the new spa, I was told, again, for a Saturday appointment, I would have about a 4 week wait. They reminded me to immediately stop tweezing and waxing and to only shave the areas I would be having treated. Having done my research, I knew I’d have to do that, but the idea of taking a razor to my face was absolutely foreign and, I admit, freaked me out a bit.
Know Pain, No Gain
My aestheician, Nicole, explained to me what would happen at each appointment and the results I could expect after each. At this appointment, she would start the laser on the lowest setting and would gradually move it up to the highest by the 3 appointment. She told me the laser would feel a lot like a rubber band snap and, from everything I’d read, that’s what I was expecting.
Now, let me make clear I’m no wuss where pain in concerned. At all! My husband and family will all tell you, I am, and always have been, a champ dealing with pain. When I was 4, I was ran over by a bike leaving my left leg broken in three places and requiring a cast from foot to hip. Although I have no memory of the pain at the time, I’m sure it hurt. But I didn’t cry. Even when the hospital sent us home with the cast on the wrong leg and my parents didn’t realize it for several hours, I didn’t cry. As an adult, I’ve had dental work without anesthesia. Seriously. And, although moving a little slower and more carefully, I was up and back to work after my hysterectomy in two days. I’m just not a sniveling wuss when it comes to pain.
So who knew Laser Hair Removal was going to be the one thing that would bring me to my knees like a virgin at a prison rodeo?
Initially it may have felt like a hard rubber band snap, but I’m not sure. My brain very quickly interpreted it as someone having placed a cigarette to my face! I will admit the chin wasn’t nearly as bad as the upper lip, but it was still painful, especially when it zapped a hair. The upper lip, though, was just hidiously painful. Along with the
rubber band snap cigarette burn, it came with the added bonus of sending a little shock right through my face into my teeth! I had to stop her several times while she was working on my upper lip to allow me to breathe and relax again. I realized I was holding my breath and I was actually shaking! Thankfully, she was very understanding!
When it was finally all over, Nicole told me they had a topical anesthetic, Zcaine, that I could purchase and recommended I use for the rest of my treatments. I’m not sure why she didn’t tell me that before my first appointment, but I knew with complete certainty, what ever the price, if I was to continue with treatments, I was having a tube of it!
The procedure, from start to finish, even with my breaks, only took about 15 minutes and was only painful while she was using the laser. Afterward, the treated area was red and puffy and felt like a slight sunburn for just a couple hours. She told me that I probably wouldn’t notice any decrease in the number of hairs growing or in growth time after the first treatment, and I didn’t.
Whether or not it was worth the pain, I wasn’t yet sure. But, armed with my new tube of Zcaine, I felt brave enough to give it another go and scheduled my next appointment.
Please continue following my journey at Laser Hair Removal. Well, Sort Of. Part Two