I started having laser hair removal treatments back in March 2012. I deliberately held off on blogging about this until I had undertaken a number of treatments, in order to give you a well-informed review on the subject of laser hair removal.
Laser hair removal is classified as a cosmetic procedure. Ask me whether I’d have breast enlargement and I’d firmly say without hesitation a resounding ‘No’. I think that comes with being older and less hung up on ‘body issues’ – the thought of implanting something unnatural in my body doesn’t appeal to me. Even for something like laser hair removal, it took me months of research to finally pluck up the courage to go ahead.
Anyone with dark hair understands that hair removal can be a frequent chore. The thought of not having to do it that often appealed to me. The first thing I did was go to a swanky salon called EF Medispa on Kensington Church Street for a free consultation. The lady I saw was very glamorous (although she looked like she had some work done to her face), she was very charming, I had to fill a form which also requires you to inform them of any medications that have been taken. I told this lady that I had taken a couple of weeks course of doxycycline for my chest back in September 2012 (I saw her in November). I was surprised when she told me that I’d have to wait six months before I could start the treatments. I was rather perplexed, six months? that can’t be right surely? I did a bit of research and came across a website called realself.com where real doctors give advice on various treatments, I posted a question and luckily a kind doctor told me that the half-life of doxycycline was only 18-22 hours and therefore I should wait 7-10 days before starting the process of laser hair removal.
Given the side-effects, the lengthy process and cost, I decided it was prudent for my peace of mind to engage the opinion of a dermatologist. I went to Cromwell Hospital and saw Dr Morar. He advised me that the lady at EF Medispa was totally incorrect and that it’s best that I get treatment from a medical professional rather than a beautican, and that laser treatments can be effective but to note that it’s a long process (I never appreciated fully his comment until now).
Off I embarked on a consultation with the Bupa Centre West End (located within a short stroll of Topshop on Oxford Street). I met a nurse called Helen. I immediately felt relaxed with her, she was a pretty petite blonde lady (all natural) and rather than tell me that I won’t feel anything (like the lady at EF Medispa told me), she did say the first couple of treatments will most likely be uncomfortable given my hair is very dark and thick, but it isn’t intolerable and has never had a patient who couldn’t tolerate the treatment. I appreciated her honesty and I filled in a form and she did a patch test. I waited a week to see if there was a reaction, which there wasn’t and off I started.
The first treatment I decided to have full legs done, the laser did feel uncomfortable but I gritted my teeth and it took about an hour and a half. I went back to work as normal and was told not to shower until the next morning, and bought Sterex Aloe Vera gel to use after showering on my legs – a natural anti-septic and helps to cool the area. I used the gel for a week, and then reverted back to my normal E45 moisturiser. You can’t pluck or wax for the duration of treatments but you can shave in between. The treated hair that was effectively targeted by the laser then falls off on its own in about 1 to 3 weeks.
Subsequent treatments are done every 6 weeks (extended up to 8 for when you get past 4/5 treatments). The ideal candidate (the one that will get the best results) would be someone with my dark hair colouring and thickness combined with white skin. Lighter hairs and darker skins will need multiple treatments, I was told to have 8. I’m now on treatment 7 for my legs.
After the second legs treatment, I decided to have my underarms done (I had to have a patch test on my underarm before commencing treatments). Whoa! I nearly jumped when she did the first treatment, hair is coarser there (same for the bikini area). However, she did stop and then start again when the area got a little hot, it only takes 1 minute per underarm – now I’m on treatment 5 I don’t feel it anymore. As the treatment progresses, there are less active hair follicles to target and therefore you feel it less.
I haven’t yet finished my treatments, but it has been incredible, since treatment 5, I have only very sparse fine hairs that are a muted black colour, you can hardly see them. In fact, I haven’t needed to shave in between treatments, I only shave on the day or the day before the treatment.
Pain tolerance is subjective, so don’t be put off by my comments, I would say its completely bearable, and the more you progress, the less you’ll feel it. Expect some redness and itchiness, this subsides within a few days.
I had Helen do my first couple of treatments, and now I have a nurse called Hazel, she’s absolutely lovely. I’m soo glad that I chose the Bupa Centre West End.
My advice would be to stay committed to having the treatments every 6 to 8 weeks, and that it does take time to really see the results – even from the first treatment I saw a reduction in hair growth and the hairs that re-grew were finer and lighter in colour. It was only after treatment 4 and beyond that I could see a dramatic difference, but it can be different for other people.
For more information on the Soprano XL Laser I’ve been using http://www.painfreehairfree.co.uk
I will update my blog in a couple of months time, it’s possible that maintenance treatments of once or twice a year are needed there after, but I have no idea until I see how things progress…