Saturday was my second laser hair removal treatment, and I won't lie, I was worried.
Since my first treatment four weeks ago, I'd discovered that there's really no such thing as permanent hair removal - it's more permanent hair reduction. I started questioning whether it'd be worth finishing, considering the cost and pain involved. On that point, I figured less is still more; I've destroyed too many pillowcases with this beard and it causes me too many skin issues, so any reduction is worth it.
Also, there was the issue of pain. I'd had half of my neck done with a MeDioStar laser and it was literally the worst pain of my life. The rest of my neck and face were done with a Dermo Flash IPL, which is far less painful... but also less effective. It took about three weeks to see the difference, but it was clear - the MeDioStar definitely cleared the hair better than the Dermo Flash. The Dermo Flash areas were slightly reduced in overall hair quantity, so I can't say it didn't work at all, but the MeDioStar area actually had some totally hair-free spots. There's a visible difference. Jessica, the technician, was right when she told me that during my first treatment.
That difference caused me to panic. What if the only option I had was MeDioStar? Could I handle it? Admittedly, I was sort of locked in regardless - I'd started and need to finish. I can't go through life with this half-a-neck-full-of-hair thing I've got right now.
The thought of several more MeDioStar experiences and that panic made me lose sleep. For about a week, I stressed about it hard. I went through the various stages of grief, pulling in to Acceptance on Friday.
Saturday was the treatment so I popped a Vicodin I found in the back of a drawer and headed in.
When I got there, I went into the treatment room and steeled myself for the worst. Jessica surprised the crap out of me when I got there, though: since I'd been there, they'd bought a new laser! This one was an IPL (intense pulsed light, not actually a real laser) like the Dermo Flash, but they've had much more success with coarse hair like mine using this one and - get this - it's less painful than Dermo Flash. Less painful? And effective? Hell yeah. I actually heard Handel's Messiah playing and saw light streaming down from the heavens.
The name of this new device is the Aesthera Isolaz. Their web site books it as "painless" and, while it's not painless, it's certainly far less painful than anything else they've tried. It looks sort of like a big canister vacuum with an LCD screen poking off the top of it. The technician dabs some water on your skin, then takes the hose on the Isolaz and puts it on the area you're getting the hair removed from. The hose sucks part of your skin up into it and then there are two bright light flashes - the first one is just sort of warm, the second feels like a tiny rubber band snap (about half as much snap as Dermo Flash). The suction lets go and they move on to the next section. So it sort of is like a canister vacuum - it has the suction and everything. (I guess they treat acne with it, too, and the suction turns up so powerful it sucks the goop out of zits. That's some pretty powerful suction!)
When you're done, it feels a bit like a sunburn for a few hours, but even toward that evening the redness was going away and the sunburn feeling was dwindling. By the next morning, it was all better.
It'll take a couple of weeks before I can vouch for the effectiveness of it, but Jessica told me they had pretty good luck with it, and that builds my hope. I don't think I'll be totally done in just six treatments the way we originally thought, but that's okay; if it's working and it happens to take a couple of extra treatments, I'm cool with that.