Laser on legs

I got the following from an anonymous correspondent in late May 2002:

</font><blockquote><font size=“1” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>quote:</font><hr /><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”> On Friday, I had my first laser zapping session on both legs below my knee where the worst of the hair is located besides my bikini area. We almost had the machine cranked to full power (50 out of 60 Joules, 30 ms duration (max)). We did the toes and feet first and it was excruciating in certain areas. It felt just like getting it zapped the conventional way, except we covered a large area very quickly. My skin also welted in certain areas too.

At certain points, we’d stop and apply chilled witch hazel to the area, which seemed just as painful only colder. Usually the pain would subside after a few minutes, but I was amazed at how much it hurt.

Everything I experienced leads me to believe that the laser that was used is the correct laser to zap hair. The pain was just like getting zapped with a probe. I realize that to e get perfection, I’ll have to clean up the remaining hair with a probe, but most of the hair should be gone after the third session.

I’ll let you know how it turns out. </font><hr /></blockquote><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>She followed up with this report on June 22:

</font><blockquote><font size=“1” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>quote:</font><hr /><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”> Well, it looks like laser will only work on the lower leg and not on the upper leg at all (with the exception of the bikini area). I’ve also got a theory about how I’m responding to the laser as well.

When we did the first six lines across the top of the thigh the pain was incredibly intense and I was holding my breath just to be able to tolerate it. As a result we stopped to evaluate how I was responding. There was only one small welt on the very first line, the skin didn’t appear to change at all and the hair didn’t look any different. We had set the laser to 50 joules @ 30ms. This was far different from the lower leg where the skin was welting in lots of places and the hair was leaving blemishes/carbon on the skin from being vaporized. I didn’t see any carbon and in fact some hairs seemed untouched completely.

As a test, we spotted one particular hair on a line that we had already zapped and we put the laser directly over it. The second time around, the hair broke off but it wasn’t completely vaporized like it should have been. It appears that the hair was too fine to absorb the laser light. Then we started to brainstorm as to why I was feeling such intense pain considering it didn’t appear the hair responded to treatment at all. After debating about it for a good 15 minutes and listening to my electrologist ramble on about absorption to melanin ONLY, I came up with the following theory:

The laser works by sending out light at a specific wavelength which only gets absorbed by melanin. When the light gets absorbed by the hair, it vaporizes all the way down to the follicle (provided the follicle is shallow enough because the laser can only penetrate the skin so deep). When this process occurs the skin should feel warm, it should welt and there should be carbon left over from the hair.
However, in my situation, I wasn’t getting any carbon residue and it wasn’t warm at all, in fact it hurt like hell. The only way I could describe the pain is based upon what I felt afterward. The stinging I felt was like getting beaten with a switch or a whip and the stinging lasted for several minutes. So where was this stinging coming from???

I believe we are dealing with the duality of light. On one hand light is a wave, on the other it’s a particle. Light is capable of being on both states at the same time so in essence it’s both a particle AND a wave. The electrolysis portion of the laser comes when the light wave gets absorbed by the melanin to destroy the hair follicle. In my situation, there wasn’t enough melanin to cause absorption, so what happens then?? Well, the light either gets reflected or it hits you as a particle. This is what I believe is causing the pain.

I have a feeling that I was literally being beaten by photons. If I’m correct, I should have bruising on my legs. If someone punched you hard enough, you’d break blood vessels below the skin from the impact. In my situation, I believe I’m being punched with photons, but ultimately, it should achieve the same bruising effect.

We must have debated this for 20 minutes because my electrologist was so set on the idea that light only works when it’s absorbed. That didn’t explain my situation and the pain I was in so I didn’t believe what she was telling me. Either something other than melanin was absorbing the light or something else was going on. I tried to explain that even though a door or a wall wasn’t supposed to absorb the light, if you throw enough photons at it at the same wavelength as the laser for electrolysis, the door should be blown to bits and I believe it would be a result of the light as a particle, not light as a wave.

I believe I am correct with my theory, but I would need a physicist to confirm for sure. If I do get bruising, which I believe I will, that will pretty much be a smoking gun for me and I will be even more confident with my assessment of the situation.

Thankfully, all is not lost. Most likely we will use a portion of the money that would have gone for the upper leg and apply it towards the bikini area which should have no trouble at all responding to the laser. I’ll still get some money back since the bikini area costs less. We will still continue to treat the lower leg as well since I appear to be responding well in that area.

So what does this mean for the upper leg in the long run? Well, I asked about the effects of tweezing and if the effects are coarser hair I’m wondering if waxing or epilating the upper leg could be used as a tool to thicken the hair so, in time, it will respond to laser treatment. That would certainly be a very interesting solution to say the least. </font><hr /></blockquote><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>A week later (June 26), she sent this:

</font><blockquote><font size=“1” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>quote:</font><hr /><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”> Just so you know, I did bruise slightly, in spots, on my leg. They were mostly red in color as if someone pushed their finger into my leg and held it there for a long time. It’s slowly going away.

The major drawback about laser hair removal on the legs is the red magic marker. Since the laser doesn’t “see” the red, it’s used to help the person doing the zapping, but it doesn’t help you when you have to change clothes around other people days later, such as Karate class. One woman looked at me with wide eyes and asked, “Did you run out of paper or something?” Another said, “I hope that’s not a tatoo.” I explained that it was laser electrolysis and I was amazed at the number of women who immediately said, “I get electrolysis done too.” Sometimes when I get that response I’ll show them my underarm and happily add that I no longer have to shave (not that I ever did, I decided to get it zapped because I didn’t want to start)

After re-reading what I sent you, I’m cautious to say that what bruised me was light as a particle, but I have no other clue as to how the damage could have been done. I’m taking everybody’s word for it that the laser that zapped me would have only been absorbed by melanin and not by anything else given the distance that the laser was capable of traveling.

One other freaky thing about the laser is that it can launch (literally) a beauty mark/age spot/freckle back out of the skin. I’m assuming these spots are all created by melanin. Within a few days after treatment, those spots literally come off when the surface layer of the skin covering the mark finally dies and falls off. Weird!
</font><hr /></blockquote><font size=“2” face=“Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif”>

Funny, I never heard anybody mention those freckles/birth marks before - but I had them too !!

I got them after having my legs treated with a flashlamp called Ellipse Light. They were tiny and very dark - a lot darker than the rest of my freckles and birth marks. I noticed them when I came home half an hour after the treatment was done, so they don’t take long to develop.
They were a bit like tiny flat scabs filled with dark liquid (melanin ??) Scraping gently at the top made them go off leaving a small indent with dark liquid that could be wiped off.

Does anybody have any idea what they are ???

I might add that I didn’t have as strong a reaction to the treatment as the anonymous writer. I could definitely feel it on areas with many dark hairs, but it was bearable. And I had no pain, swelling, burnt hair or other visible signs of the treatment afterwards - except for the 10-15 small black spots that were scattered across areas with many dark hairs as well as areas with only a few light hairs.

The freckkles may dry up and fall off, but they will eventually come back. I sure hope the hair doesn’t do that.


Do you mean the same freckle in the exact same spot comes back ???

Did you get them too ?

If that’s the case - isn’t it a possible side-effect they should mention before the treatment ?

I’d probably choose the hairremoval anyway, but I’d like to know that over a series of treatments I might be getting 50+ black spots on my otherwise quite freckleless legs.

Do you have any idea how they can develop so fast - almost instantly ?

DK Girl,

I was referring to freckles that already existed. The surface wouldn flake off and what was left was just regular looking skin. The freckle could have still been there but is less visible. Eventually it comes back and looks just like it did before.

What you are talking about sounds like scabs. Nothing to worry about as far as I know. I don’t recall from your post but do you have dark or light skin?


I have skin type 1 and no regular freckles, but a few small birth markish spots.

I’m wondering where the black stuff that fills the tiny scabs comes from ?
It seems like it appears out of nowhere on fair skin that didn’t feel the least bit overtreated or sore…

Could it just be blood underneath a scab?


I don’t think so. The liquid was a lot thinner than blood and dark brown/black with no hint of red. My wild guess (like the anonymous lady at the top) is that it’s melanin.

The (rather inexperienced) girls at the clinic where I was treated say they haven’t heard of it before, but I have an appointment next week with a MD who uses the same flashlamp. I’ll ask her if she knows what it could be.

The “more obvious freckling” is normal. My dermatologist uses the same laser that removes hair to lessen the appearance of dark spots on my skin where I had a little spot of darker pigmentation.

It is treated each time I get laser, and it gets a little lighter each time.

When I get my forearems done, I have little brown specks on my skin for about 2 weeks post-treatment, this is because of melanin, I think, and it is normal. This is why you cannot go tanning and get laser…you will get big brown spots.

Sorry, this isn’t a very scientific explanation, it is a bastardization of what my derm told me, it made sense when he told me.

Bottom line–don’t worry about the freckles. If anything, the laser will get rid of them.

You may get some scabbing on freckled areas but I would not worry about it. That will go away in a couple of weeks. It is normal if you are treated with high fluences.

DK girl, how did the treatment go with your legs???

Keep us informed!!!