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My first laser hair removal treatment

So I’ve been toying around with the idea of getting laser hair removal for years. I’m a hairy chick, and I take care of it by an annoying and time consuming combination of waxing and shaving. Or I just wear jeans when it’s 95 degrees. Both methods leave something to be desired.

The only thing stopping me from getting laser hair removal was money. It’s not cheap. Spending thousands of dollars on something that seems so frivolous put it out of my reach. But I had never really checked it out, specifically, how much it would cost. $2,000 or $10,000? Is that for just my lower legs, or everything? I had no idea.

What finally changed my mind and prompted me to check it out was how much I was spending on waxing. I’ve been getting it done at least twice a month all summer. And that would be fine if it actually worked, but I still have to shave every single day – even if they managed to get all of the hair with the wax, more was just under the surface ready to pop up the next day. Waxing really just cleared things out enough to get a decent shave, especially in my bikini area, which is really sensitive.

So, I asked my dermatologist about it. She said I was the perfect candidate (dark hair, light skin). But she was very expensive. And she knew this. She told me that if cost was a factor (it was!) that I should find someone who’s been in business a long time, that I can get a personal recommendation for.

So naturally, I turned to Twitter! What’s more personal than that?

No seriously, twitter can be a great source of recommendations, as long as you check them out independently. Someone from twitter (Suzanne Chan of Mom Confessionals) had someone she knew give me a first-hand recommendation for Danna Homburger, who has an office on 57th Street. I did some research on Danna and was really touched by her story: when she was a teenager she developed a hormone imbalance that caused dark hair to grow all over her body, and even parts of her face. After twenty years of bad treatments she finally was “cured” of her problem, and decided to help others with unwanted hair problems.

She’s been in business for a couple of decades, and there was a glowing review of her on Yelp. I could find nothing at all negative about her. Plus, the person who had recommended her to me was a respected hair removal professional herself, and had gone to Danna for her own laser treatments. I was sold.

I called her and made an appointment. We decided a consultation wasn’t necessary since I’d already seen my dermatologist and knew I was a good candidate – I wanted to jump right in! She told me I should stop getting waxed and start shaving all of the areas I wanted to have lasered – she mentioned that if I simply let the hair grow in and then shaved right before the appointment, my skin could get very irritated. Better to shave for at least a couple of weeks first.

The morning of my appointment I shaved, put on some old clothes (I wasn’t sure if there would be any mess involved), and headed into the city. Danna was very sweet, and took about half an hour to explain her story and the procedure to me – she really wants her clients to understand the process and potential results.

I filled out a form about my skin color, how it reacts to sun, etc., and Danna determined that I’m a skin type 3 (from 1-5). She explained that within my skin type, there were different levels she could set the laser at, and I could tell her if it was too uncomfortable. I’d been warned by other people that I should go to my doctor first and get a topical anesthetic, that this was going to hurt. But Danna had assured me that her machine kept things cool and comfortable.

Hair can only be effectively lasered if it’s in a certain stage of growth, the live growth stage. So any hair that’s not in that stage would not be affected by the treatment – that’s why multiple treatments are required. You have to catch each hair in the right stage.

She uses a machine called the CoolGlide. She would be covering each area to be lasered with aloe vera gel, then sliding the CoolGlide over my skin, controlling the machine with a foot pedal.

It was time to start! I took off my pants and got comfortable on the treatment table, protective glasses on and my phone at the ready (because why wouldn’t I live tweet something like this?), and she got to work. When she ran the laser over areas with thinner, lighter hair, like my upper thighs, I really couldn’t feel anything (which probably means that that hair won’t be affected). When she ran it over hairier parts, it felt sort-of like someone plucking a bunch of hairs at once, but nowhere near as painful (I know, I’ve used an Epilady). In fact, I can’t really call it pain at all. It was discomfort, and it really wasn’t bad. Nowhere near as uncomfortable as getting a wax!

I asked her to turn it up to the maximum for my skin type, and it was completely bearable. As for the people who warned me that it would hurt a lot, they may have a lower threshold for pain than I do, or they may have been treated with a different machine, or they may have been even hairier than me. In other words, there are different variables that make it impossible for me to guess how this would feel to you. But for me, it was a piece of cake.

The entire treatment took about forty minutes, and I was done! There were small red bumps on some of the treated areas, which Danna said should be gone within a couple hours (and they were). She put an analgesic cream on me, even though I didn’t think I’d need it, but also didn’t want to be uncomfortable on the subway. She told me that the affected hairs would look like they were growing for the next few weeks, and that shaving was a great way to help expel them.

Danna kept using the words “life changing” to describe how these treatments were going to affect me, and I’m really excited to find out. I go back in six weeks for another treatment. She estimates that I’ll need about a year of treatments to catch all of the hairs in the right stage, but she does not sell multi-treatment packages because each person is different – I could be happy with fewer treatments.

Laser hair removal is not defined as permanent hair removal, but permanent reduction. People I’ve talked to say that they go in a couple times a year for additional treatments, and many still shave, but now it’s to get a few stray hairs and the finer hair that lasers don’t remove. For me, any reduction will be welcome: even when I shave with a new razor, you can see the black dots just under the surface where the hair is, waiting to grow back out within hours. So, hopefully by this time next year, a trip to the beach will not involve days of preparation, but a quick spot-shave…or less.

If you’re in the NYC area, you can find Danna Homburger’s contact info here.

After finding out that I was tweeting about my procedure and planned on posting about it, Danna gave me a $25 discount on my treatment fee, less than 5% of the total. There was absolutely no discussion of a discount prior to my treatment, and this did not affect my decision to write about it.

Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 1. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.

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8 Responses to “My first laser hair removal treatment”

  1. Ann on August 30th, 2011 3:33 pm
    1

    That was pretty informative. Can the laser be used for facial hairs also? Tired of being burned with wax. Although it beats being the bearded lady.

    Amy Reply:

    @Ann: Under certain circumstances yes, but since the face is the most hormonal part of the body there’s a possibility that lasers will cause more hair to grow. Danna prefers electrolysis for face. She does that as well. I think I may do some electrolysis chin and eyebrow treatments next time I go for laser.

  2. Lana on August 30th, 2011 4:40 pm
    2

    Wait – what about cost?

    Amy Reply:

    @Lana: I hesitate to put the exact cost on a blog that’s read outside of NYC, because it’s going to vary widely from city to city, machine to machine, and based on how much you get done. But my first treatment was $450, and I’m guessing the rest will be the same.

  3. Erin on August 31st, 2011 12:31 am
    3

    Thank you for being SO in depth! I’ve been looking to to do laser surgery on my face and I was so worried about the pain, so I appreciate all the great info! Glad you had such a wonderful experience :)

    Amy Reply:

    @Erin: My pleasure! One thing Danna told me though is that laser isn’t always best for the face, because it’s such a hormonal area and the laser can actually cause additional hair to grow. She prefers electrolysis for face.

    Erin Reply:

    @Amy: Oh shoot, I didn’t know that! I guess I’m going to have to do my research :) Thanks for letting me know!

  4. Erin on August 31st, 2011 1:08 am
    4

    Oh shoot, I didn’t know that! I guess I’m going to have to do my research :) Thanks for letting me know!