Hello again! It’s time for another update!
I just had my FOURTH treatment using the LightSheer laser yesterday (June 23, 2003).
If you want specific information about my first and second treatments you can see my old posts:
First LightSheer Treatment: MALE FACIAL HAIR from Dec 24, 2002
Second LightSheer Treatment: MALE FACIAL HAIR from Feb 24, 2003
Third LightSheer Treatment: MALE FACIAL HAIR from Apr 23, 2003.
My member number is #1466. You can use this number to make it easy to find the previous messages.
If you guys haven’t read the previous messages, I recommend reading them to understand the big picture of how my treatments have been going. This way I won’t have to repeat stuff and take up lots of unnecessary space.
Anyway, it has been two months since my last treatment.
Before the fourth treatment (which was yesterday, the one that this post is about), I noticed that some of the patches (patches that never “responded” to the laser) that were present after the first three treatments were STILL there, especially under the chin. I asked the doc if he could do something about them, and he said again that he is going to raise the fluence by 3J this treatment, and hopefully this time the higher fluence will start knocking them out a little better. Also, the chin and upper lips areas seemed hardly affected by the laser. The lower neck area had the best results, while the cheeks were somewhere in between. There was more “minatured” hair on the cheeks than on the other parts, but interspersed with the regular “thick” facial hair. Some of the miniaturized hair had also been growing back on the neck, which is a little bit scary, but I still think that the amount of reduction and removal is better than last time.
In spite of all this, the major spots that were missed during the third treatment were around the chin (especially at the bottom and underneath the chin) and by the sides of my mouth on both sides (“between” the upper lip and chin). There were a couple of spots on my neck underneath my right ear, but not that bad. Just a couple of tiny little patches that should be gone soon!
This time I overslept before my appointment. I was going to wake up at 5:30am, cook breakfast, take a shower, shave (very carefully, this can take more than 30 minutes to do it properly when I shave multiple times, including once very slowly against the grain… I try to really look for missed spots and try to shave over them several times very slowly and carefully to prevent burns during the laser treatment), and then put on the numbing cream and let it sit for about two hours before the appointment.
Instead, I woke up at almost 7:30am, took a quick shower, didn’t eat breakfast, had to shave. It wasn’t very careful, and I had a few little nicks when I shaved against the grain (I can’t usually do this because my ingrown hairs are REALLY severe!). It was around 8:20am when I was able to put the numbing cream on my face, so I got about 40 minutes of time to let it sit before the treatment, which was at 9.
I used Ela-Max 5 cream for this treatment, unlike the first three treatments, where I used Emla. This time I used about 25g out of a new 30g tube. I definitely think it helped, but it would have been awesome if I had let it set for two hours or so. The treatment still hurt like hell though. I think the pain was a little bit less than last time. It seems to get a little bit easier to handle every treatment. It definitely would have been less if I had let the Ela-Max sit for a while, but I still think the Ela-Max 5 did SOME numbing.
I got a tube of generic lidocaine from my doctor for the next treatment. It is 5% lidocaine containing 35.44g in one tube. It is manufactured by a company called Fougera. So next time I’m definitely gonna wake up on time and put the lidocaine on really thick and let it sit for a while. So for treatment 5 (the next one) I’m gonna finish the tube of Ela-Max 5 from this treatment (about 5g remaining) and use half or more of the next tube (for almost 25g total on my beard/chin/upperlip/neck/upper cheeks/nose area). And I’m gonna let it sit for a LONG time before it’s time to get zapped!
I still had to put an ice pack (with a towel around it) on it for a few minutes after the treatment and drive home with the AC on full blast. I then sat in front of a fan for about an hour or two after I got home! I didn’t take any ibuprofen before the treatment this time, and I had a headache afterwards. So I waited a couple of hours and then took 200mg ibuprofen to kill the headache.
The doc used 33J this time, and 30ms pulse width. He went up 3J from last time. So so far, if he keeps going up 1-3J every time it will look like this:
1st Treatment (Dec 24, 2002): 23J, 30ms
2nd Treatment (Feb 24, 2003): 27J, 30ms
3rd Treatment (April 21, 2003): 30J, 30ms
4th Treatment (June 23, 2003): 33J, 30ms (repetition rate slowed down to 1.5 pulses/second)
5th Treatment (not done yet): 34-36J, 30ms
6th Treatment (not done yet): 35-39J, 30ms
7th Treatment (not done yet): 36-42J, 30ms
8th Treatment (not done yet): 37-45J, 30ms
9th Treatment (not done yet): 38-45J, 30ms (I project we will top out here at 45J from here on out because I don’t think it’s safe to go anywhere past that!)
10th Treatment (not done yet): 39-45J, 30ms
11th Treatment (not done yet): 40-45J, 30ms
12th Treatment (not done yet): 41-45J, 30ms
13th Treatment (not done yet):42-45J, 30ms
14th Treatment (not done yet):43-45J, 30ms
15th Treatment (not done yet):44-45J, 30ms
16th Treatment and up (not done yet): 45J, 30ms
Oh yeah, and about the chart that I made above (the one with the fluences): I also don’t think he would go up in any bigger increments, because now we’re definitely above the “threshold” that some have talked about for ‘permanent’ reduction for my skin type, while also getting into the kinds of fluences that can cause scabbing and other nasty side effects (hypo/hyper pigmentation). . .
Also, because of the possible “scabbing” that I had from the last treatment (it was REALLY mild, and I was able to remove all of it when I shaved for the first time 3 days after the Third Treatment, but it completely covered my neck and cheeks and it was something that concerned me enough to tell my doctor. . . see my posts from Treatment 3 for more details), the doctor changed the “repetition rate” of the laser to 1.5 pulses a second rather than 2 pulses a second. The laser just “zaps” continuously when you hold the trigger down, and he said that changing the pulse frequency (not to be confused with pulse width) gives your skin a chance to rest a little longer between pulses and cool down a little better, hopefully preventing the scabbing).
So that’s the plan until I’m completely done or I think the rest is small enough to be done by electrolysis. Remember that my beard is EXTREMELY thick, probably thicker than anyone else on this board (I’m not kidding about that), and that I’m a type IV on the FP scale. If I had gone for electrolysis it would have required between 400 and 700 hours of electrolysis to finish my beard and other facial hair completely (remember it’s REALLY thick, I’ve been told that the “average” beard only requires 200 hours, but I’m not anywhere NEAR that lucky). So I don’t want to start electrolysis until I’ve done as much as I can with the laser (it seems to be much more cost effective right now, at least for the thicker and darker hairs). At $50 to $100 an hour, electrolysis is way too expensive an option right now, even if my beard were “normal” I could easily spend anywhere from $10,000 or more. With my thick beard I could easily spend more than $50,000 on electrolysis (not to mention hours and hours of time that it would require for every session) to get a reasonable amount of clearance.
I’ve paid for the package of 5 treatments (so I’ve got one more left), and touchups are $50 for every 15 minutes after that . . . I’m guessing a touchup will run about 30 minutes or so . . . So every touch up is $100 for the actual laser treatment.
I think that every touchup will require about $25-$50 of topical anesthetic max, so that means the total cost of touchup will be $150 if you include laser treatment and anesthetic.
If the touchups are every two months, the cost will be $75 absolute max per month including the numbing cream until I’m done… Wow, that’s expensive just to remove hair, but hopefully it will be worth it. Now if I require something like 20 to 40 treatments @$150 a treatment (once every two months) to get rid of most of my hair (I’d say > 80%) it would end up costing anywhere from about $3400 to $6750 total depending on how effective the next few treatments are. After that, my beard should be more manageable by electrolysis. 20 treatments would take more than 3 years, and 40 treatments would take almost 7 years. After that 50 hours of electrolysis to finish it off would cost anywhere from $2500 to $5000. Which would bring total projected costs of my hair removal procedures for my face anywhere from about $6000 to almost $12000 depending on how the treatment goes. If I needed 100 hours of electrolysis it would cost anywhere from $8500 to almost $17000, if I’m doing my math correctly.
As I said, if I had started with electrolysis I could easily spend $40,000 and still not achieve complete clearance (I’m not kidding my beard is SERIOUSLY thick… If it were thicker I would be able to complete for some sort of Guinness Record!).
Also, just like last time, the doc pointed out that my skin was a little bit lighter this time that last. I attribute this my religious use of SPF 35 sunscreen EVERY DAY. Remember I’m a type IV and I tan very easily, so I wear the sun screen EVERY DAY regardless of what the weather is outside (even if I don’t plan on going outside). So my skin keeps getting lighter and lighter every treatment, even if it is summer outside.
The only reason that I have been able to handle these higher fluences is because of my use of sunscreen. Most people with my skin type start to have side effects below or around 30J. If you are planning on having any kind of laser treatment, especially hair removal at higher fluences, PLEASE do yourself a favor and STAY OUT OF THE SUN COMPLETELY. And wear sun block on top of that, SERIOUSLY. Don’t mess around with your health… It could have serious consequences. Is going to the beach really worth it if you risk having disfiguring hyper/hypo pigmentation problems?? For me it’s not, and I want the hair to REALLY be gone (so I want to use the higher fluences)… You get the point.
Right now my face is red and looks swollen, just like all the other times. Especially because I didn’t have the top of the head (above and between the brows) done, I can see how swollen the rest of my face is. It looks like my face just got fatter or something. Almost like a pear or something.
I hope that the redness goes away in a day or two, but until them I’m gonna try to stay away from social events.
There is a lot of burnt up hair on my face, but it’s definitely less than last time.
I guess we will see. . . I will keep posting my results . . . And I’ll let you guys know in a couple of days how the side effects are affecting me . . .
I’m in this for the long haul, and I have been pleased with the results so far. . . Before LHR, I was not able to shave regularly because my ingrown hairs were pretty bad. But after the LHR treatments shaving is pretty easy compared to before (well, I mean after the approximately two week hair regrowth and shedding stages that I have to go through after each treatment).
So yeah, I’m in it for the long term. The whole course of treatment might last a year or two until I’m satisfied, and even then I’ll have to come in for a touch up anywhere from once a year to several times a year (maybe even every two to four months), or start the electrolysis journey to get rid of the last few hairs.
Have fun out there…
RAISING THE FLUENCE IN 2003