Today I plunked down $1,130 for six laser sessions at Aesthetic Laser Center of Seattle for facial hair removal.
I have considered laser since the late 90’s when a friend of mine had the hair on her legs lasered off. She was happy with the results and it seemed a much better way to go than having a needle stuck into you over and over. I never followed through due to it not being deemed permanent and the fact that I was never really sure if my light skin and mostly blonde (and now, ahem, gray) hair combination would make it effective.
When I first looked into laser, I think the price was around $3,000 or more, and I just couldn’t stomach taking that kind of financial risk for an unclear outcome. So I kept at electrolysis here and there over the years.
I stopped electrolysis last year due to a combination of the cost, the commute time to get back and forth from where I was going, and the severe reaction my skin had, which left my neck especially red and irritated for many days afterwards.
More recently, I strongly considered intensive electrolysis with multiple technicians at E3000, but again the cost waved me off. This left me in a funk, as I’ve always hated my beard and shaving, and I notice that the more beard I have, the unhappier I am about my presentation. I was seriously considering starting electrolysis again this new year, but I decided to crunch some numbers first, and I’m really glad I did.
My last technician estimated that I had 300-400 hours remaining at $60 an hour, ($65 if you figure in a tip,) which ranged that expenditure from $18,000 to $26,000. That’s a lot of money. The insight I had was that if laser was effective at only knocking back 10% of my beard, I’d still come out between $670 and $820 ahead.
(The math: 10% of 300 hours = 30 hours.
30 hours x $60/hr = $1,800. $1,800 – $1,130 = $670.
30 hours x $65/hr = $1,950. $1,950 – $1,130 = $820.)
At higher effectiveness rates, it’s a significant cost savings, and is what turned this into a no-brainer for me with regards to the financial risk.
After chatting with the laser technician, I’m expecting at least a 50% effectiveness rate, and it could be closer to 75%. I’ll likely need more than the six sessions I’ve paid for, but that’s still a potential savings of roughly $13,500 to $19,500! I’m still going to need some electrolysis for the ultra-blonde and gray hairs, and I’ll gladly pay for those to go away.
But from an aesthetic standpoint, most of the dark shadow should be gone, and that is the main point, as far as I’m concerned!
You’re probably wondering about the session itself. There was an initial consultation in the office prior to the treatment, where they took a very brief medical skin history, discussed how the laser worked, ensured that I’m not any medications that make the skin photo-sensitive, and charged my credit card. 🙂 I did get a bit of a double-take when I came in, but I was treated very well by the woman who processed the paperwork, and was made to feel very comfortable.
I was then taken to the medical area on another floor where the machine and technician were. The technician was friendly, asked if I had any questions, and it was up onto the padded table. I placed dark shades over my eyes and held an ice pack against my face in the area we were about to treat. She asked me if she should tell me when she was about to apply the laser, but I told her no.
It does cause some pain, and she told me that on the 1 to 10 pain scale, we’d be most effective around 6. After my face cooled down and numbed up from the ice pack, she would slather on some gel and start zapping. The first couple of zaps were around 3 – 4 in pain for me, so she cranked it up, and it shot up to around a 7. She dialed it down a little bit, and that’s where it remained for the rest of the session.
What I found was that in some areas, I didn’t even feel it. In other others, it felt like a 7 to 8, and I would twitch, but I didn’t say anything. I want this beard off! It’s a brief, sharp, intense pain that fades rapidly. The pulses seemed to last around a third of a second or so, and in the areas where it hurt the most, I could feel the intense heat boiling the water the pores, feel the hair burning, and then I’d get a whiff of burnt hair. Some people have reported that it feels like a rubber band being snapped on their face. For me, it felt like electric shocks. Your mileage may vary.
Afterwards, I wiped my face off with a baby wipe and then applied some gel lotion that’s supposed to help soothe the skin. I booked my next appointment for four weeks out and then went shopping. :-p (Bought a couple of t-shirts and zip-up sweater, all 60% off at Eddie Bauer.) Total time: 1 hour. Fifteen minute consultation, 45 minute treatment.
Now, about eight hours afterwards, my face feels like it’s sunburned, but it doesn’t look that red and I have some bumps around many hair follicles. I’m supposed to stay out of the sun and avoid anything that generates or applies heat, like working out or a hot shower for 24 hours.
Given where my face is at right now, I don’t think I’ll have any problem going in to work tomorrow.
Emotionally, I was anxious prior to the session and did have a, “What the hell am I doing?” moment while on the table, but it quickly passed. Leaving, I noticed that I was in a very good mood. I’ve wanted this for so long, and it feels great to finally, finally be doing something substantial about it.
All in all, I couldn’t be happier!