I 'd been interested in trying this for quite some time. What convinced me was the detailed data I found on the web site of a local medical practitioner - including reports of first-hand experiences by some employees - and the pricing. The clinic charges JPY100000 for treating the area from the cheekbones to the larynx, unlimited visits, and offers a lifetime guarante. (The caveat is that this doesn’t cover hair that is too fine or light colored to respond to laser unless/until new technology makes treatment possible.) They also promise that if the customer is not satisfied and decides not to go in for a second session, he has two months to ask for a refund.
I went in for a test session for mid-July, after calling for an appointment. The nurse who explained the procedure had worked there for about four years, and seemed knowledgable. We went through the explanatory literature, and I signed a statement acknowledging that I understood the procedure and what to expect. The actual test took only five or so minutes, consisted of her covering my eyes with a hand towel, spreading some coolant gel on the test spot I chose under my chin, and shooting two pulses there at 15J. At my request, the nurse also tested another spot in the underarm area, with a slightly higher setting. She then spread some ointment on both spots, and told me to call if I found the results satisfactory.
In the next two weeks I didn’t shave. The first few days the hair in the first test spot seemed to grow, although at a slower pace than their unexposed siblings. After a week I experimentally pulled at them with tweezers, but while they became a bit more exposed, they still seemed to be rooted. Pulling two out hurt somewhat, although perhaps not as much as a control hair in a nearby unexposed area did. I then trimmed everything short using clippers.
About two weeks after the test, I noticed that one of the hairs dropped out when I rubbed my chin. I tried the tweezers again, and this time a well-defined somewhat rectangular area was soon clear. (The Lightsheer has a square lens, and I could see that the test area consisted of two pulses placed side by side.) There were still some tiny brown specks left in the follicles which disappeared when I scrubbed my face some three weeks later. Most of he hairs in the second test spot dropped out as well. Only two hairs grew back by the end of August. I called to ask for an appointment for Sept. 1.
I shaved carefully in the morning, and timed my arrival at the clinic a few minutes before the appointment. The girl at the reception cheerfully took my money, counted it, and gave back the extra JPY10,000 that I’d inadvertantly given her, together with a receipt for JPY105,000. Governments do tax everything they can.
A nurse then showed me to a cubicle midway down a hallway. I put my bag in a basket by the wall, took off my shoes and lay down on the table set in the middle of the floor. She covered me with a large towel from the chest down. I’d brought a T-shirt along just in case I’d need to change to prevent the gel used to enhance the cooling effect of the handpiece tip from soiling my street clothes, but ended up just opening the top two buttons.
Next the nurse drew lines across my cheekbones and neck with a red pen to indicate the area to be treated, and asked me to confirm I was satisfied with it. I asked her to move the neck line down a centimeter to catch a few stragglers. She then covered my eyes with a small hand towel, drew a guide matrix using the same pen, anointed the right side of my chin with the gel, and shot a few pulses there to reconfirm that the tested setting of fifteen Joules caused a reaction.
When she saw it did, she gave me a piece of gauze to put between my teeth and upper lip. She spread gel around my mouth, and applying pressure, treated that area right up to the nostrils. Each shot felt like a mixture of a snap with a rubber band, a tug on the hair and a needle jab; moderately painful where the hairs were thick, but practically painless where they were sparse. The light was strong enough that when she did the upper sections by the nose I could see it through my facial tissues. In areas where the hair was thick I could also hear a short hissing puff at every pulse, which made me think of boiling kettles. A smell of scorched chicharron floated in the air throughout the procedure, traces of which still remained when I got home.
After the upper lip was done I removed the gauze from under my upper lip and received another one to place between my lower lip and teeth. The procedure and pain in the chin area were same as in the upper lip area. The pressure the nurse exerted for each pulse was considerable but not painful in itself. After finishing the mouth area, she gave me a cold gel pack wrapped in a towel to press against it while she continued to work elsewhere.
The rest of my face was treated in a similar manner. When the nurse treated my upper cheeks the light that reached my eyes through the flesh was surprisingly strong, although not unpleasantly so. The upper cheeks and neck were comparatively painless, but the jawline hurt, as did the area immediately under the chin.
After all was finished, I received two new cold gel packs, this time large enough to wrap around my lower face. I lay applying them for about twenty minutes, and then continued with a new pair for twenty more minutes. The nurse then picked off some stray burnt hairs using pincers, wiped the remaining guide lines off and cleaned the area, and applied some antiseptic steroid cream. I also got a tube of it to take home, and was told to apply it to allay any irritation. I was not to bathe that night, but to only take a shower, and to be sure to keep the treated area clean.
The entire procedure took slightly under two hours, of which about a third was spent cooling the affected area. Before stepping out I checked the results in a mirror and noted I looked as if I’d been out in the sun too long. A section of a pen line was still visible on my left cheek, and a few small sections of burnt hair clung to the skin. I wiped the line off with a fingertip, and decided to deal with the hairs after I got home.
I still had some chores to do, and finally got home at about eight. The redness had abated to a degree, but there was still slight swelling. The entire area was tender to the touch, as if I had been bruised right under the skin. When I made expressions a few spots occasionally felt a twinge as if they’d been poked with a needle.
Before going to bed that night I took a shower and used cold water to cool the area again. Afterwards I picked off five or six protruding loose hairs, washed my face carefully, and reapplied the cream.
I washed my face again in the morning, and reapplied the cream. By the evening the slight swelling was mostly gone, but the skin still felt bruised. Most of the redness had also abated. I didn’t reapply the cream in the evening.
The bruised feeling was mostly gone, and only slight vestiges of the sunburned look remained. Some lighter hairs had grown at a normal rate, but in the evening of day three most of the area looked as if I’d shaved the previous evening. The protruding hairs were short, and some remained under the skin. It may have been just imagination, but the upper lip area seemed to feel a bit more supple than before the treatment.
The pain is gone. One follicle has developed a tiny pustule, but no other problems are apparent.
The appearance of the skin has returned to normal. The dark hairs are growing at a slower rate than the light ones, and the stubble feels coarser than usual. When I scratch my cheek, minute grains of burnt hair come off.
A small percentage of the dark hairs still remain inside the skin with just their head sticking out. If I were to shave this could cause a slightly mottled appearance in the affected areas. The lighter hairs appear to be growing out slightly more upright than the darker ones.