First, out with it: I'm getting laser hair removal on my face.
Yes. Interesting that's the first reaction people have when they hear that. But figure it this way: I can't actually allow my facial hair to grow. If I do, I have all sorts of skin complications ranging from pretty bad ingrowns to severe acne and everything in between. Talking to multiple dermatologists, I'm not ever supposed to let it grow. Ever. So I get the exciting fun of shaving for, well, ever. No point in that, now, is there? Laser hair removal to the rescue.
I went in on Saturday for my first treatment. When I scheduled the appointment, I was told there were two different lasers that could be used: The MeDioStar or the Dermo Flash. (Okay, the Dermo Flash is technically a Non-Contact Pulse Light, not a laser, but whatever.) The MeDioStar removes hair by zapping each individual follicle; the Dermo Flash is more of a broad-spectrum thing that can cover several hairs at once. The MeDioStar was described to me to feel "like having a tattoo." I don't have any tattoos, so that didn't help me. The Dermo Flash was described as more of a "heat" oriented thing.
I have like zero pain tolerance, so I specifically requested the Dermo Flash.
When I went in on Saturday, the technician told me that the Dermo Flash was pretty new so they didn't know how well it would work on coarse hair like the stuff on my face, but hypothetically it should work. (According to the company, it should work.) On the other hand, the MeDioStar is more of a "guaranteed results" thing... but it hurts. "No pain, no gain in hair removal," said the technician, Jessica. "The Dermo Flash is pretty new and we haven't really tried it out on some of the more coarse-haired folks. It's supposed to work, but we haven't really tried it out much. The MeDioStar always works. Why don't we just start you on the MeDioStar and see how it goes?"
"Okay," I said. "I'll have to take your recommendation on this. I don't know much about it."
"I've got to warn you, though," said Jessica. "It hurts. Bad. The only time I've really ever made guys cry is with this thing. It's far worse for coarse, dark hair than it is for light hair, so it's not like if your wife was to have her legs done or something. This is 100 times worse than that. My boyfriend has had some work done with the MeDioStar and he said he'd rather sit through a five hour tattoo session than have this again."
"Oh, well, now that you've sold me on it, let's hit it. I'm looking damn well forward to it. Bring it on. Seriously, though, if this is the way to go, I guess let's try it and we'll see."
Jessica put some eye protection (sort of sunglasses) on me and handed me a rubber glove full of ice and told me to ice up the area. I did, held it on as long as I could stand it, and then she brought out the MeDioStar and started dragging it across my lower neck, from my adam's apple to just under my ear. "There are only a few hairs here," she said, "so you'll get a feel for what it's like."
Seriously. I've been hit in the nuts before and a good punch to the junk has nothing on MeDioStar hair removal. It was about this time when I realized that ice really doesn't do shit for pain. The thing only zapped me three or four times and I was pretty much hurting. "Can you handle it?" she asked.
"Um... uh... well, it does hurt, yeah. I guess try another section," I said, thinking that maybe it was just tender right there. I mean, it's your neck, right? It's gotta be pretty tender there.
She ran the thing along the next area just above the first. This time it zapped maybe eight times. The goggles she put on me started fogging up and my toes were curled in my shoes. I crushed all the ice in that stupid rubber glove. I was pretty much ready to die. "There's this cooling plate here, see, that cools the skin way down before it zaps you," she said, like that helped. "Oh, and if you want to curse at me or something, that's okay. I'm used to that. By the way, it gets a little worse along the jaw line." She started in on the next area up... at my jawline.
This time it shot me maybe 12 times. That was pretty much all I could stand. "Jesus, are you sure you can't just give me something for this? Like the dentist gas or something? Seriously, I'll pay for it. A lot. Anything. Just give me something because I swear I'm going to pass out in a minute. This is the worst. Ever."
"Yeah," she said, "a lot of a our patients would like the gas. I've been working on the doctor to see if we can get some but he hasn't yet."
"Well, I don't think I can do this thing anymore. This is just too much."
"Do you want to try the Dermo Flash?"
"Oh, hell yes. I'll be your experiment. You can verify whether the machine does what the company claims or not."
"That's not a bad idea. And if it doesn't work, we'll comp you this treatment."
The Dermo Flash is a walk in the park compared to the MeDioStar. This nozzle-looking thing gets put on your skin and then bam! it shoots you with this hot beam. It sort of feels like a rubber band snapping you and it leaves a warm sensation.
I could do Dermo Flash all day long. I almost wondered if Jessica pulled the MeDioStar out on me specifically so my pain expectation would be heightened to the point that the Dermo Flash almost feels good in comparison.
When you're done with Dermo Flash, your face feels like you've got a low-grade sunburn, but that goes away after a day. You're not supposed to go out in the sun for a few days afterword because your skin is light-sensitive. On the other hand, the MeDioStar section of my neck is still red and irritated looking and sore.
I am praying - and you should pray for me, too - that Dermo Flash works. I'm finishing this thing, but if it's gotta be MeDioStar, they're going to have to give me some serious drugs.
UPDATE 8/30/07: In case it isn't clear - Jessica is cool and really easy-going and the place I'm going is also very cool with lots of cool people. I'm happy with the service so far. I just wasn't really ready for the MeDioStar and I don't think there's anything that could have been done to make me ready. We tried it, it hurt too bad, and I'm hoping against hope that Dermo Flash does the job. We'll see in a week or so!