First, I want to say thanks to Andrea for starting this forum. It has been an invaluable source of information in my battle to get rid of the unwanted hair on my face and the front of my neck. (beard, upperlip, goatee, the entire front neck, nose, in between/top of eyebrows).
By the time I am through with these treatments, I would like to eliminate all of the unwanted hair on my face, although I will definitely settle for less than 100% reduction: If I can just get a great deal of thinning and lightening, that is acceptable. My hair is ingrown, and in the last couple of years I haven’t been shaving every day (it hurts my face and causes more ingrowns if I don’t let my skin recover for a few days in between shaves). So I always look either clean shaven with a strong shadow, or like a crazy wolf-man that has bad hygene hasn’t shaved in a few days (in truth I am actually a really clean person, but it doesn’t look it when I got stubble all over my face!).
My final goal is that I basically don’t want to have a permanent shadow and still have to drag a razor over my face every couple of days just to not look like a wolf-man. It is not unusal if takes me 30 minutes to shave my face.
In addition to removing the regular male “facial hair”, I want to have the fine hairs on other parts of my face removed (like between the brows, on top of the brows, and on my nose and upper cheeks), but some of those may be too fine to remove using laser.
I had been researching this procedure for quite some time (mostly using the Internet), and a couple of months ago I started going around to a few doctors and “laser centers” around the area for consultations. I live in LA (just so you know).
The prices that I got quoted ranged from $900 per treatment (expensive side) to $1200 for a package of 5 treatments (cheap side). These prices were for full face and front neck using a variety of lasers (EpiLight, LightSheer, CoolGlide, a couple of IPL/FPL variants . . . )
One place gave me a package for $1200 for 5 treatments, and $200 for each touch up after the first five. They wanted to use a Nd:Yag laser, because they said that it would work well for my skin. (BTW, I am a type IV on the Fitzpatrick scale, and I have thick, coarse, black hair).
The more consultations I went to (and the more I read on the Internet), I realized that the more effective option for me was probably the LightSheer diode laser (by effective, I mean in terms of being adble to penetrate deeply enough to result in long-term or permanent reduction). It was probably gong to hurt a little more than some of the others (like the Yag), I thought. (Oh yes, it WAS going to hurt, I didn’t realize how much!)
So I found this doctor that gave me a price $1500 for 5 treatments, and $50 for each 15 minutes of touchup after that (for the next 10 years). I felt a little more comfortable around him than around lots of the other places I had been to. He answered my questions very thouroughly, and didn’t try to rush the consultation because I wasn’t paying him, and he was much more honest about the results.
After 5 treatments, I would hope that each touch up would last 15 minutes or less (I’d heard that a full face and front neck usually takes less than 30 minutes for the first treatment). I definitely wouldn’t mind going in every few months (like every 2 to 4) after the first five treatments for touchups, especially if I didn’t have to shave (or at least no where near as often!). The $50 cost for a touchup would be the same as buiying 2 or 3 12 packs of Mach3 razor blades (which is about what I would use in 3 or 4 months).
So I decided to do it! And I had my first treatment earier today.
The doctor used the LightSheer XC to treat my face and neck.
Before treatment, I applied the entire contents of a 5 g tube of EMLA onto my face. My doctor told me that the oclusive covering was not absolutely necessary, just apply a layer to my face and let it sit there for an hour or more. I remember reading somewhere that the longer you let it sit, the better it works. I let the first layer dry, and then I put the remaining EMLA on my upper lip (in a slightly thicker layer), becuase I was told that area would be pretty sensitive to the pain (boy was I glad I did that!)
When I got to the office, my face was definitely numb, and my uppper lip was most numb of any part of my face. The doctor had me rinse the EMLA off right before the treatment started.
He put some sort of clear lotion on my face to help the laser handpiece glide over my skin,
and then he started! Using 23 J and 100ms on the LightSheer XC.
At the first ZAP, I can honsetly say I was not expecting anywhere NEAR that much pain, and I am usually not a sissy when it comes to pain (my wisdom tooth extraction was quite tolerable compared to this).
When he got to the upper lip, it didn’t seem to hurt as much as I thought it would, but my chin , jawline, and neck HURT LIKE HELL. Some of the zaps literally brought tears to my eyes and caused a little clear mucous to come out of my nose (ewww!).
Areas with little or fine hair (like my nose and forhead), barely hurt at all, but areas that had a lot of hair (remember my hair is thick and dense!) hurt so much more than I would have ever expected! The smell was definitely like burnt popcorn, and it made me a little nauseous during the procedure!
Next time, I am going to ask the doctor if maybe I should use two 5 g tubes of EMLA (he gave me five 5g tubes for $45). Next time, I’m gonna put some extra on the jawline, neck, chin, and other areas that I had neglected a little. I guess the amount that I put on the upper lip was good, because that area hurt very little compared to what I thought it would feel like (and there are some coarse, dense hairs there!).
I might even order a 30g tube of the Ela-Max off the internet (it seems to be a little cheaper) and use a lot (like 10g or more) on the sensitive areas. I don’t know if it would work better or worse than EMLA, but I guess I won’t know unless I try. I really wish I had used my sense and put a lot on this morning on ALL of the areas and just used two 5 g tubes.
Could I use both ELMA and Ela-Max together or would that be a waste? I figure that each one would pretty much do the same, but I basically want my face to be as numb as possible, because it DOES hurt like hell. Hopefully, I will have some hair reduction this time around and there will be less hairs to zap next time, so it will hurt less. I think the doctor will raise the fluence by two or three to around 25 or 26 J. (I think I will take the lower number, just cause it hurts!). During my consultation he said that he usually likes to raise the fluence 2 or 3 every treatment, which means at the end of 5 treatments, I should be in the lower 30s. He didn’t think my type IV skin could handle much more than that!
During the procedure the doctor said that if I were having body parts treated (as opposed to my face) it would probably be much less painful–the face is just really sensitive, and the thick hairs on my face are going to absorb that laser energy, and I will definitely feel some pain. And I did!! Don’t ever let anybody tell you there isn’t ANY pain when treating the face. Especially, if your hair is thick and dense like mine, you WILL feel it on your face! It definitely felt like horrible torture to me on some of the areas!
Also, after the treatment, I looked in the mirror and almost freaked out!
There were a whole bunch of really nasty looking burnt hairs all over my skin. I tried to rinse them off with cold water (without rubbing), but it really didn’t help. If I wanted to, I could probably slide them out one by one. I do look really silly right now ! You can’t tell from far away, it just looks like I have stubble, but if you’re like 10 feet away or closer it looks really weird and scary. I don’t really want to mess with my face or try to pull them out right now, I think I will just try to wait it out and let my skin heal! I would definitely feel weird if I had to go to work or go out somewhere today. I wouldn’t walk around in public looking like this with burnt hair all over my face! Also, the doctor had me put on Aloe Vera gel on my face right after treatment. It felt good and stopped the burning a little bit.
I drove home with the AC on full blast pointing at my face (it would start burning whenever I turned the AC off), and then went home and sat in front of a fan for a few hours.
I have noticed that there is some reddening of my neck and face. My face looks like it has a bunch of red spots on it. I hope these don’t cause any permanent scars, and I hope that they go away soon. I guess only time will tell! I think they are fading a little already (it has been over twelve hours), so that is a good sign. Hopefully the redness will go away in 3 to 4 days and I can try shaving or gently pulling the burnt hairs out!
I also brought some SPF 30 sunscreen that I will wear every day from now on.
Has anybody had any similar experiences with male facial hair (esp using the LightSheer)?
If these red spots don’t dissapear for a while, does that mean that I won’t be able to handle the fluence being any higher next time? I hope that the next time I have a little less hair so that it will hurt less even if the doctor goes a little higher (like 25J), but I can’t walk around with funny red spots on my face for 10 months until this is done.
BTW, I’m going back in about 8 weeks (my doctor seems to prefer 2 months between treatments instead of 4 or 6 like some others).
Anyway, that was my first treatment experience. I’m just waiting for these darned hairs to fall off, the areas where the hair just got completly singed off look really good (my face hasn’t been that smooth since I was 16), but my neck and underneath my chin have those burnt hairs all over them!
I hope this treatment has done some permanent stuff (20-30% would be nice!). I’m definitely in this for the long run, and I don’t mind putting up with some days where my face feels like it’s on fire (as long as its every couple months, and even less frequently as the treatments progress, and as long as I use a LOT of the numbing cream next time!).
These burned do hairs look REALLY WEIRD!!
I think I’m gonna take a shower in a few minutes (with lukewarm or cold water , NOT hot water). I might not even let my face touch the water, because I don’t want to irritate it anymore!