My first laser treatment--summary of the entire experience

I had laser removal for the first time three days ago.

I will tell you all about the entire experience from interviewing the doctors, costs, how I decided which place to go to, though my first treatment. I will write updates as I go along so that you can see my results.

This is long, so I have included topic headings…

Before I get going here, I have a question on costs. Many women on (it is a PCOS web site–hirsutism is a side effect of PCOS so there is a LOT of talk about hair removal there too) talk about how much they are paying for laser, and they say “I’m paying $500 per session, or $1200 for five sessions,” and so on. But, this doesn’t really reveal much, since it doesn’t say HOW MUCH OF YOUR BODY is being treated for this price. What I would like to know is not only how much people are paying, but what areas get treated for that price? Or, are you paying for time–where they do as many areas as they can within, say, an hour. Otherwise, the price doesn’t mean much! Cost comparison is hard to do without this info. Granted, I’ve already made my choice of who to go to, but I still would like to get an idea whether it is a reasonable price or if I am paying too much? Thanks in advance to all who reply to this question.

I stumbled upon Hair Facts and did a lot of reading, THANK YOU ANDREA! This is what finally convinced me I wanted to give it a try. From what I read on this site, I knew that I wanted to go to a doctor’s office and not to a laser center. Because I live in Los Angeles, where plastic surgery is very popular since everyone is so looks conscious, I knew that there would be TONS of options, and I wasn’t sure how to narrow it down. The info on hairfacts was great! After reading on that site, I decided that I was pretty sure I wanted to go to a private doctors office, preferable to a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist, rather than to a laser center. (That was a personal choice–I am not dissing those of you who decided to go to laser centers.)

I choose to go to see two doctors. Dr. Alan Rosenbach, a dermatologist in Los Angeles, CA, who specializes in cosmetic dermatology and who has also done a fellowship in laser use at Georgetown University, which few doctors have done. I also learned that he teaches laser to other physicians, so I felt that if he was qualified to do that, than he must be good. I found him through my Internist’s office, which is actually an office of Intergrative Medicine, so this dermatologist has office hours there a few days a week. So I was referred to him by someone that I trust, and that matter a lot. This is the doctor who I wound up using.For those of you who live in the LA area who might be interested in using him, here is his web site: I will note that he was just a teeny bit “LA” in his attitude, but not too bad. However, he certainly wasn’t pushing his other procedures that he offers on me, though I am glad that he can do them (i.e. botox, schlerotherapy, etc.) While cosmetic dermatology is clearly his area of expertise, he is a doctor and didn’t forget this at all during my appointment with him, which was reassuring.

I went in for a consultation first. This costs $100, but the total amount is applicable to the laser treatment itself. They do this because they want you to know in advance whether or not you are a good candidate. The doctor met with me personally and examined the areas that I was concerned about. He said that because I was light skinned with dark, somewhat coarse hair, that I was an excellent candidate. Yippee!

The areas that I said I wanted to have treated were:

· Face (upper lip, chin, sideburns, jawline, triangular area under jawline, and neck.)
· Abdomen (you know, the goody trail!)
· Bikini area
· Small of the back
· A few stray hairs on upper back.
· Forearms (if time)
· Underarms (if time)

The doctor said that the charge was $250 for my face (and I was like, oh no, I am never going to be able to afford this if it is $250 for just my face and I have SO MANY other areas that I want to do) but then he offered that I would be better off booking an hour of time for $450 instead, and they would just do as many areas as they could in that time period, starting with my first area of priority.

I noticed that they didn’t have any sales pressure or up front payment plans where you bought a package deal for a discount. I liked that, as I felt like I was in a medical office (which I was) and that I wasn’t dealing with a user car salesperson mentality. And the beauty industry is particularly unrelentless, especially here in LA…so this was really a relief.

While I was there, I also showed him a few dermatological concerns that I had, skin tags, flaky scalp, and so on. Since he is a dermatologist I knew that he would be able to help me with this stuff too, which was nice since I could kill two birds with one stone. He said that I had psoriasis on my scalp (apparently this seems to be happening to a lot of PCOSers!) as well as a very mild case of it on my elbows.

When the consult was done, I was escorted into the office manager’s office to set up my first laser appointment and to go over all of the pre-appointment skin care and preparation information that I needed. She offered that instead of paying $100 for the consultation, since they actually did do some medical stuff besides the laser consult, that I could bill it to my insurance—which I did, so I just paid them my $10 copay. I did this primarily because this way I didn’t have to be bound to doing the laser treatment in case I changed my mind, and I still had another doctor’s office to visit the next day that that did free consultations that I wanted to meet first before I made a final decision and didn’t want to wind up forfeiting the $100 I would have otherwise had to pay to Dr. Rosenbach in case the other doctor was just better or had better prices…just because I had.

The next day, I did check out another doctors office (I won’t name names because I don’t want to get sued, but I will say that she is in Manhattan Beach–if you think I am describing the same person that you are considering, email me directly). I did this to be sure, to compare, even though I already REALLY liked Dr. Rosenbach. This doctor offered a free consultation, but she was 45 minutes late to the appointment (I specifically booked the first appointment AFTER her lunch, because I have found that doctors usually got caught up by then if they were running late earlier in the day) because she was having her tires changed (!) during lunch time. Needless to say I was disgusted with such a self-centered attitude. Hey, if she was my neuro-surgeon and I need an operation, I would have been happy to wait, but let’s get real, this is an elective cosmetic procedure and she isn’t the only game in town. By the way, she’s a pediatric endocrinologist, and I couldn’t help but wonder why she’s doing laser, except that it is lucrative and lots of people seem to be jumping on the laser bandwagon…By the way, unlike the Dr. Rosenbach’s office, they were going to charge me for each individual area separately, rather than for the time. While this may be fine for people who only want to treat one area, for me, it would have cost upwards of $800 for one session. I asked if they would be willing to charge for time instead of per area, but they didn’t really respond to this. The only reason I was interested in her in the first place is because I heard that she did the procedure herself, and since she is an endo I thought she would be able to advise my about optimally timing hair removal with the anti-hair medication that I have just begun to take (finasteride) so that I wasn’t paying to remove hair only to have it come back again and again due to too much androgen activity.

So between the ridiculous cost and the rudeness and lack of professionalism that the second doctor showed by being incredibly late for our appointment, there was no question where I was going to go. So far, I am glad that I choose Dr. Rosenbach.

Cynosure Apogee 9300 Laser. It has an air jet cooling system. The laser has a red beam that is about the size of a quarter on my skin. Supposedly there are not a lot of these being used in California, and I don’t know if that is just marketing hype, or if it is indeed a really good, newer but hard to find laser.

They wrote me a prescription for Emla, an Rx only topical anesthetic that is a combination of lidocaine (2.5%) and prilocaine (2.5). Fortunately, my insurance paid for this so I only had to pay my $10 copay. I got a prescription for three tubes, with 3 refills.

They gave me an instruction sheet for how to apply the Emla. I was supposed to take a hot shower for 10 minutes and then apply warm compresses afterwards to all of the areas to be treated. Then I applied the Emla cream, and didn’t rub it in, I was supposed to leave a thick, white layer on my skin.

Now, here is where things really get funny…in order for the Emla to work, you need to put an occlusive barrier over the skin and the cream. Yup, you guessed it, this meant I had to cover many parts of my body with Saran Wrap! In a different context (in other words, in a world without PCOS and the self-consciousness and low self-esteem caused by the cosmetic side effects of PCOS) my gyrations to get myself covered in Emla and then all nice and wrapped up would have made for one hell of a comedy skit. It was amazing that I was able to pull this off without help, as the Saran kept sticking to itself. At the end, I felt like I was fit to go into some child’s lunch box as I was so well wrapped! I literally had to cut a hole in the big piece of Saran wrap that I had placed over my face so that I could use my mouth.

Before I left my house, I took 800mg of ibuprofen by mouth in the hope that this would reduce pain before it started as well as minimize swelling. Thank goodness I had a water bottle with a sports top since the Saran and Emla would have made it difficult to drink any other way.

I wore sunglasses, not because it was extremely bright out this morning, but rather, because I didn’t want to have to make eye contact with anyone while I was driving, or in the parking gargage or elevator, since I looked really strange (have you ever seen a woman with Saran wrap on her face and forearms?) Like I said, if it weren’t for the darned hormonal issues, I would find this really funny!

Right before we got started, I took a Xanax, I figured that the more relaxed I was, the less the pain would bother me.

The doctor came in and discussed with the nurse what setting to use for the laser for my particular skin. The nurse was very skilled and therefore was able to cover ALL the areas I wanted. So all of the “optional” areas that I wanted to have done got covered! Hurrah! And in addition to all of that, when she did my bikini, it she suggested that she could do some of the coarser hairs on my upper inside thigh area. I hadn’t even planned on doing them because I didn’t think that there would be enough time. So these areas didn’t have Emla on them, and they hurt more than the ones that had been numbed. Then after the bikini I turned over so she could do my lower back when I asked her, “Do I have any hair on my butt?” and she said that there weren’t too many, but that she started zapping away, and that’s when she did some hairs on the upper back area of my thighs, also uncomfortable since I didn’t numb that area either.

When they did my face, I had special protection over my eyes, and I had to close them as well.

It felt like a rubber band snapping against my skin. It definitely helped to have the Emla, I felt a noticeable difference between the parts of me that were numb and parts of me that weren’t. The only other thing that I really noticed is a slight smell of hair getting singed.

As I write this, it is now about 5 hours after I had the procedure done. I feel completely normal. The hair is singed off, I am told that it will take about a week or two before the hairs that were killed this time actually will start to fall out. I must use sunscreen (which I do everyday anyway) and I can resume makeup immediately.

I have bumps/redness on my jawline, but I am not worried as there was a lot of hair there and I suspect that this is part of the healing process. Other places aren’t as tender. The hair still looks as if it is growing on my face, which I expected, and I am shaving it as I did before the treatment. I look foward to it started to fall out soon!

I am going back for my next session in 6 weeks. I will let you know more about how I am progressing once I can tell what is happening.

[ May 06, 2002, 12:16 PM: Message edited by: cindylouwho ]

WOW! This is a fantastic report! Thanks for sharing so much detail, and I can’t wait to hear about your updates!

The Apogee is a good laser. That’s the first one ever used on me. It hurts more than the Apex 800 or the Lightsheer ET but it is very effective. The Apex and the Lightsheer have better cooling systems with the Lightsheer being the best. I never used any anesthetic beforehand. I had some pain and redness with the Apogee, much less with the Apex and Lightsheer.

One thing I found is the hair falls out quicker with the Apogee 40 and some popped right out of the follicles during the procedure. Ususally within a week the hair that’s going to fall out will already have fallen out. With the other lasers it takes up to 3 weeks but it will eventually fall out.

I paid $1400 for a very hairy chest and moderately hairy back. Price includes a followup treatment for each area. Treatments after that keep decreasing in price. My last hour long treatment for my back was only $125.


I live in Washington DC.

I went for a consultation (free) to see about hair removal from my back and, possibly, chest.

The doctor supposedly does the work himself, and they use the lightsheer. All in all,
they seem to know what they are doing, and are very professional. However,
I was quoted $5,500 for my back - for 5 treatments (one every 2 months) - I was told it would
take that many treatments to remove all hair. I have light skin and dark hair.

It sounds a bit pricey to me. Anyone know of other options in the area?

Hairy, actually that is not a bad price. I paid less than that but now my dermatologist had a rate increase and his prices are in line with what you found. My dermatologist now wants $4000 for four treatments of the back. He recently purchased a Lightsheer ET and the rate increase is to pay for that. Fortunately, I get a 50% discount since I am an existing patient. I have very little hair left and may just have electrolysis to zap a few white chest hairs I have left. If I decide to get my legs done I would get a discount on that too.

It will take at least 5 treatments to get rid of all the hair but you will notice improvement even after 1 or 2.

I have had four sessions with the Lightsheer and it is an excellent laser. It can do up to 60 Joules. I have dark skin so they can’t run it that high on me. Ive had it up to 45 Joules and I can really feel that. Don’t be afraid of the pain. It is very brief and it is worth it. Make sure the use compression. That’s when they push down on the handpiece while they vaporize the hairs. Compression forces blood temporarily out of the surface blood vessels so the hemoglobin doesn’t absorb the laser pulse. Compression also makes the hair follicle rotate closer to the surface so it is easier to destroy. There is also less post treatment redness when compression is use because the cooling system is more effective.
Believe me it makes a BIG difference.

If you can afford it, get your chest done too. The difference in looks and comfort is incredible.


Welcome Hairy!

There are several doctors in DC who service well-heeled politicians and power brokers. You don’t mention which one you saw, but you might also check out Dr. Tina Alster. She’s kind of a celebrity doctor and a big self-promoter, but she also does a lot of excellent research and has a lot of experience.

Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery site

(note: This is not an endorsement, but a suggestion for further research. No claim is made as to the quality of the service)

Thanks for sharing your experience for us. I found it to be of GREAT help, and I can’t wait for your “follow up” report on the next treatment! I was interested to note you took ibuprofen before the treatment. I asked my nurse if I should take any painkillers or anything before the treatment, and she said definately not - the laser is supposed to cause papilloedema in the hair shaft, so any anti-inflammatory drugs would reduce this effect. I don’t quite understand why this is a bad thing, but then I don’t know much about all this laser thing anyway… they don’t give emla cream either - you just go in and get zapped with NO pain reduction medication of any kind. It feels like 1000 wasps stinging you! Not the most pleasant sensation I have ever experienced I must say.
Ayway, look forward to reading your next dairy!

Yeah, we have some amazing members, huh, Fleabag? :wink:

So, Andrea, does taking ibuprofen reduce the effectiveness of laser treatments? I took it before a few sessions, maybe two and didn’t ask the practitioner about it. It didn’t seem to have any effect.


I’m not aware of any studies or empirical data suggesting ibuprofen can affect hair removal results. It’s possible that it may cause more bruising in consumers who are prone to bruising from hair removal, but this is very rare anyway.

It is now about 6 weeks after my second laser appointment. THe first appointment was supposed to be only 6 weeks after the first one, but I decided to delay it because not enough hair had grown back and I wanted to get my money’s worth.

The second appointment was the same as the first, though I had forgotten to take any ibuprofen the second time. My nurse didn’t have a problem with me having taken the ibuprofen the first time, to answer the question that someone asked above. Next time I will need to remember to take it.

The second time, I was more adept at saran-wrapping myself, other than that the experience was identical.

Hair in all areas is coming back sparser and less coarse. There are still stubborn ones on my upper lip, chin and jaw area that are still coarse, though, but there are LESS of them. My underarm hair is WAY less coarse and less dark than it used to be.

The really nice thing about this is that I don’t have such an awful 5 o’clock shadow on my chin, sideburn and jawline area anymore–I am a somewhat fairskinned woman and it is really nice to no longer have a need to do the twice daily razor touch ups like I used to need to do. The hair is less aggressive now.

By the way, I recently met a woman who has an endocrine disorder called LOCAH (late onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia) and she had laser about 4 years ago on most of her body, she had told me she used to have hair like a man on her legs, and you NEVER would have known. She does need some touch ups, but goodness, it has been 4 years and back then the lasers weren’t nearly as good as they are now. This, plus other photos I’ve seen in this section of the website, are VERY encouraging.

Great news!

Facial hair, especially on the chin and upper lip, is especially tenacious. I sometimes wonder if those hairs used to be more whisker-like way back in the mists of time…

Many people are extremely pleased with laser, especially those with dark hair. The thinning and lightening of hair can make a visible and tactile difference, and many consumers have had permanent reduction of their darker hairs.

As you note, many consumers are happy to go in for a touch-up several times a year, and many supplement laser with other treatments.

Definitely keep us posted! :grin:

I had my third laser appointment about 2 weeks ago.

This time I remembered to take the ibuprofen (like I did for my first appointment.) For my second appointment, I had forgotten to take it, so I made a point of remembering this time.

Also, I took an anti-anxiety pill, since I have a fill 'script for them. Unfortunately, I should have taken it sooner, it didn’t seem to kick in until after my appointment was over–so the rest of the day I was kind of tired and feeling a little out of it. My appointment was at 8am, so next time I will have to make sure to get up early and take the anti-anxiety pill first thing.

But here is the big thing–I get my Emla cream via mail order prescription because it is much less expensive this way than if I were to get it filled locally. Problem is, I forgot to re-order it on time, so I had to go to this appointment without any Emla.

There were some parts of my body where it definitely hurt more without Emla–chin, upper lip, underarms, forearms, small of back, and some parts of the bikini/inner thigh.

However, my tummy area didn’t hurt anymore without the Emla as it did with the Emla, and other parts of the bikini/inner thigh area were fine. The neck and jawline were also fine without Emla for me, and the sideburns were alright too.

However, next time I will definitely use the Emla everywhere, with the possible exception of my stomach. It is a pain to wrap myself up in the saran wrap…I have to say that was a big benefit of not having the Emla this time. There is nothing like walking into an elevator full of people with saran wrap on your face and arms (as well as other places that aren’t visible!)

The hair continues to lessen with each treatment. This time, about a week after treatment, I had fun with some of the hairs that were “growing in”. I knew that many of them would be detached at the base–but that they just SEEMED to still be growing. This happens because the singed hairs don’t necessarily fall out immediately (don’t panic if this happens!). So, I took my tweezers, and GENTLY tugged on some of them, and there were many that just slid right out. Now, you must use great self-control if you do this, DON’T PLUCK any of the hairs that don’t slide out on their own.

Gotta tell you though, it was fun to remove the ones that came out on their own!

Everything is the same, laser seems to work so far as I can tell, reduction of hair each time. And, fortunately, my face recovers from the initial redness after a few hours-days, and the singed hairs don’t look like little black dots for more than about 5 days.

Thanks for another great update!

I remember my EMLA days! Yuck! And messy too. Some consumers prefer ELA Max, which is non-prescription and supposedly doesn’t need to be covered. Pain is a highly subjective thing, and some people who tried both prefer EMLA, saran wrap and all!

It is certainly satisfying to see the hairs gradually going away, and I’m glad your trecovery is quick. Definitely keep us posted on your progress! :relaxed:

Thanks for your post. It was a good read and very helpful to someone considering laser hair removal. I had no idea about the saran wrap. I mean, really? I am interested to read how the other treatments go. Did they say how many they anticipated you would need (for your face in particular?) I have similar facial hair pattern that you describe; would love for it to be gone. Good luck and keep us posted.