Laser Hair Removal - A Very Personal Experience

Author Unknown


Issue 25
Spring 2004

Some time ago we as a group became aware of the possibility of removing all of ones facial hair very quickly and perhaps more or less permanently without having to get involved in all that costly, endless needle electrolysis. Well that must have been in the region of around ten years ago and many of us were tempted and took the plunge. Years later what was it like and just how effective was it?

Having a terribly dark and strong beard growth and being compared to Desperate Dan on one occasion I wanted a very quick result before I could even contemplate commencing my real life test. After hearing initial reports of laser treatment I decided to have a go. Attending a private clinic in the North West I paid the private consultant £25 for a test patch. Now it must be said the laser treatment is not without pain, which is a cross between being twanged with a rubber band and touched very briefly by a very hot poker, but at least its quick. I was told that if hair returned after one week it was not going to work and don't bother to come back, well it did and I did not.

Next, I heard of a friend who was taking part in a clinical trial at the LGI so I obtained the necessary GP referral and waited for my appointment which duly arrived. In common with the private clinic a test patch was done. For this they required that the hair was three days old on the patch and the treatment was much the same as before except that there were five more visits and the treatment was done on the same spot. However as before there was little or no improvement at all, even after five visits but as I was not on hormones and according to one of the assistants this had made a difference on some of the patients.

Still desperate, I was persuaded to pay some real money and attend another private clinic. Now it must be said here that not all lasers are the same and there are at least three different types of ruby laser machines operating on different light frequencies which I know of Alexandrite probably being the most well known, another is a Chromos. Attending the new clinic I had a large part of my face done initially and was given an appointment to return in one month.

Initially there seemed to be much less harm to the skin as promised, though just as much pain. About three days later the beard shadow became worse due to the carbonisation of hair within the skin, this disappeared within a day or two and then gradually the hair began to disappear leading to a maximum effect around the fourth week when I retimed for my second visit and treatment on the rest of my face. The advantage to this laser treatment was clear - I did not need to grow my facial hair beforehand as one does with needle electrolysis, furthermore the whole face could be done in one session, and although a bit painful feeling like one had been sitting under a powerful sun lamp for quite a time, it was done. At home within a few days the beard shadow had returned due to the carbonised remains of hair shafts which I leamt to mask by using a stick of Liechner clown white as a base before applying my foundation over the top. Within a week the debris had cleared and my beard started to look really thin and sparse of course the few white hairs and the odd ginger one remained completely untouched by laser as the hairs actually need to be quite dark for the laser to work effectively.

This gave me much more confidence to go out in public during the day but eventually the day would come when some of my hair would start to return and I needed to book another appointment back at the laser clinic. Initially it was suggested that six treatments would be sufficient to completely remove my beard and that each treatment would be around 60% effective although any reference to the degree of permanence could not be discussed.

Later the figure of six treatments was revised to twelve and to be fair I did have several longer breaks between treatments, overall the dozen or so treatments I had cost me around £2,000 Several years later and running out of any more cash to continue with further treatment I still have some remaining beard but I say some. This is mainly in the areas around the mouth, in particular those two triangular patches running from the comers of the mouth to the sides of the chin these have been affected but only slightly. The major areas of improvement are the sides of the face, which are down to around 20-30% of their original state. The area from my neck to jaw line, which has some very large clear patches, has some remaining hair growth, which is again very sparse. All the hairs themselves are much finer too, so should I finish them off using electrolysis they are probably halfway there.

In conclusion my remaining hair growth is a nuisance, but not half as bad as it once was. If I had been on hormones, or better still, been post surgical at the time of treatment the effects I am sure would have been even more effective. At the end of the day I would think it depends on the available cash one has to spend on this treatment which ultimately determines your choice of treatment. Do however bear in mind electrolysis is in itself not cheap either, it takes much longer to achieve a worthwhile result and can seem to go on forever. Then there is the problem of needing to allow some hair to remain long and unshaved so that tweezers can then pull them out (a real pain during your real life test). The travelling cost must also be considered as far more visits are required for electrolysis. On balance the amount of pain I reckon to be about the same per shot for laser or for each hair done with a needle so no obvious benefit there. Of course as stated if your hairs are anything other than dark brown or black laser will just not work at all. Remember too that everyone is different in terms of their skin and hair growth and therefore the effectiveness of laser treatment will be slightly different in each case. Do not allow yourself to become too excited due to the over optimistic claims made by the laser operator. At the end of the day he or she are selling their service and need to keep their cash flow going. I would think that rather than the 60% effectiveness I was initially quoted, it is much lower in terms of long term hair suppression per treatment, something in the order of between 5-10%. being something around the 5% for the first treatment rising to around 10% for the treatments done at visit 12, but then remember that is how it was for me.

For me I shall now wait until after my surgery has been completed and I restart hormones at this point my beard growth will be further reduced in coarseness. The white hairs without doubt will require electrolysis as will those that are ginger. If you desperately need to shift a lot of dark hair quickly and have the money and your hair is the right colour then give it a try, but don't expect it to be anything like permanent after just a few visits, if at all. Remember everyone is different so it is unfair to expect everyone to get the same results. If you can afford to wait until after surgery no doubt pound for pound your money will go much, much further, but then that also goes for electrolysis. At the end of the day its your choice and your money. In the long term if laser treatment does truly turn out to be permanent, and so far I am yet to see any really firm evidence that it is, and if the costs are approximately the same as electrolysis, which at the end of the day I would expect it to be, then personally I would prefer laser. This is simply due to the fact I would be spending a lot less time travelling and in the salon, but then that's a lot of ifs.

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