Effectiveness & proper timing??

Hi ~ I’m on a quest for permanent hair removal of my arms, legs, bikini, upper-lip, armpits & toes (what can I say …I’m Italian), and I’m a newbie to laser.

I started with electrolysis - I read it’s the only proven method for permanence (at least that was the consensus at the time of my research 2-1/2 years ago). After several successful treatments to smaller areas (brows, sideburns, some arm and some lower leg), I gave up after many tedious sessions (WAY too slow of a process for large areas).

I’ve since read and heard testimonials to the increasing effectiveness of laser hair removal technology (the strongest impact of which has been “a friend of a friend” who swears she’s had permanent results since her treatments ended 3 years ago).

I made an appointment with a certified laser hair-removal technician (is that the right title?) in a professional cosmetic surgery clinic. First question I asked (which is everyone’s first question), “Is it permanent?” She said, “Yes. She’s been doing this for 3-1/2 years and has seen permanent results in all patients with the right skin & hair color” (Caucasian skin, dark hair…like me). She also mentioned that she uses the Altus CoolGlide Laser and claimed that this is the strongest laser out there (Is that true?).

I was so excited that I began my first treatment then (1-1/2 weeks ago on 12/10/03). We treated my forearms ($200), bikini ($150), armpits ($100), thighs&knees ($200) and upper lip ($50) …(Yes, it was expensive, but I’ve been saving for this – if it works, it will be worth it). I also wanted her to do my knuckles, but she said there wasn’t much hair and it was finer & lighter than the rest of my hair (can medium-light brown not be treated with laser?). I also thought she was going to do the ENTIRE thigh (front, back & sides), but she only did the very front and center back (not the sides or the back of my knee…which is also finer (can very fine brown hair not be treated?). (And she also said that the bleached hair on my forearms might not work, but isn’t the natural melanin BENEATH the skin’s surface that attracts the laser?).

I am questioning the effectiveness of the treatments on some of the areas I had done … the armpits stung, as did the bikini (and my upper lip, but mostly where the laser actually touched the lips themselves) … but I didn’t feel a single thing on my arms, thighs or knees. - Does that mean it wasn’t working on those areas?

She also said that the hair would fall out in about a week, and I have noticed some fall-out from the armpits and bikini (where I felt the most sting during treatment), but no fall-out from the upper lip, thighs, arms or knees (so far…how long should I wait?). Is it possible that the treatment was ineffective in some areas?

She told me I will need 3-6 treatments spread 4-5 weeks apart. The price will be the same (as quoted above) for each treatment, but then touchups are free. First off, this sounds awfully vague (there’s a HUGE cost difference between 3 and 6 treatments!) and secondly, at what point is a treatment considered the last treatment (at full price) versus a touchup?

Also, why is it recommended that laser hair removal treatments be 4-5 weeks apart when electrolysists taught me that growth cycles are approximately 3-months or 4 cycles per year? Is laser not also more effective on hairs that are in the first “anagen” phase and if so, why the closer treatment cycles for laser? I asked this of the technician, and she said, “I don’t know about electrolysis, but I know that for optimal results with laser, you want to spread your treatments apart by 4-5 weeks.” We scheduled my next appointment four weeks from my first. (Isn’t that too soon?)

I’m worried that my treatments didn’t entirely work and that I may have wasted some money (for me, this was a lot of money to have “wasted”!), and/or that we’re scheduling the treatments too close together. Any advice or suggestions? Should I continue with this or cut my losses now?

(Sorry for the novel…Apparently, I have lots of issues!)