The test patch is used to determine if you can stand the treatment from a comfort point of view and more importantly it is used to determine the starting parameters for treatment of the particular area. The parameters of interest are energy density level in Joules per cm (J/cm) and the pulse duration in seconds (s). The energy density when divided by the pulse length will yield the power density level (J/cm*s)or (Watts/cm) applied for each pulse.
Usualy they will do a number of test strips at ever increasing power levels to see how you and your skin react. They will more then likely be conservative for this initial test as they do not want to harm you or scare you away.
Laser hair removal is an uncomfortable thing and as such you need to be aware that pain is a part of the process, though that said it should be at a tolerable level. Some people require numbing creames etc. to make the treatments less painful, though pain can be a poor indication of treatment effectivness it can be a very important indication of overtreatment. If it hurts a lot the power levels may be too high and blistering or discoloration may occur. It is better to error on the side of caution for your first treatment round by keeping the power levels lower and then progressivly try higher levels based on how your skin reacted to the first treatment.
I had three test strips done on my chest, two on my legs and only one for my back. As my hair density and skin coloring are mostly consistent in all these areas they only tried the higher levels on the back and legs just to confirm that my skin could handle it. I waited two weeks after my test strips to fully gage the potential side effects. As I had no visible side effects I elected to go full out and start treatments. I have now had three full rounds of treatments and to date have never had any side effects other then the expected discomfort during the treatment and some minor bumps and redness for the following day.
The cooling on the LighSheer does help a lot.
I found the back and shoulders to be a lot less painful then the chest and stomach. The underarms, bikini, arms and legs were about in the middle for discomfort. I have never used any numbing medication but find areas like the chest test my will power. I usualy have the laser treatments in three hour sessions. It takes about 8.5 too 9 hours spaced over three sessions to clear my whole body. Approximate times for me are
4 hours to do from the waist down to my toes.
2 hours to cover the stomach and chest.
1 hour for arms, underarms and hands.
1.5 to 2 hours for back, shoulders and nape of neck.
Hope this helps.
[ December 19, 2002, 08:12 PM: Message edited by: Balius ]