Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Laser Time

I went in for laser hair removal on Monday, and I thought it might be a good idea to share my experience with others. Especially since my experience was the ANTI of everything I read before going.

Here's a basic rundown on the information I found before going:
- Don't shave before you go, the longer you let the hair grow, the better.
- The pain feels like a rubber band slapping against your skin, so take Aleve (or whatever you prefer) an hour before going.
- Don't go somewhere that offers a discount. Good places don't need to offer discounts.
- This is a medical procedure. Make sure the place you go has a licensed doctor (aesthetician).
- Laser hair removal treatments can cost hundreds of dollars for each session (recommended 6 sessions).
- Due to the cycle of hair growth, sessions should be 4-6 weeks apart.

Here's what happened at my appointment:
- I was handed a razor because I hadn't shaved.
- I felt nothing. Seriously. Not a thing.
- I purchased a LivingSocial deal for this place.
- She had several licenses in frames around the office.
- My LivingSocial deal was $99 for 6 treatments. $99 total. I added on a small area treatment for $40 a session.
- I was told my appointments HAD to be 4 weeks apart, no more, no less.

So... was I duped or did I have the best laser hair removal experience of all time?

Here's the story (and no, I don't know the answer to that question yet):

I was strangely not nervous about going to get laser hair removal. I knew you were supposed to be a bit nervous and check out a ton of places before deciding on "the one", so I think I even tried to scare myself a bit by doing some google searches of what to know before you go. I found the above information, and while I was slightly skeptical about why this place cost so little, I wasn't running for the hills and canceling my appointment. So, I'm driving down the street this place is supposed to be on and, well, it's all residential. Weird. Where is a "Medical Spa" (part of the name of the place) going to be on this street? Oh, wait, it's that house right there. Ok... I park out front because the driveway's blocked and I walk up the driveway, trying to figure out where to go in. (There really should be a sign on the street or something.) I see a purple sign leaning against the garage out back and a door slightly ajar. Ok, so my mom will probably kill me for this, but I still had no fear and decided to walk into this random door on the garage. There are stairs, so I walk up them. Ta da! Spa-like surroundings upstairs. Well, that's a relief. I also find out they call it a "carriage house". I suppose that sounds better than telling your customers you operate out of a garage.

Next, they hand me paperwork to fill out. Most of it doesn't apply as it asks what kind of stress I have in my life and if I blush easily (for massages and skin treatments I guess). There are also a couple sheets towards the end that say things like "I verify that the procedure and its risks and benefits have been explained to me - [signature here]". So I told the girl, "Um, these haven't been explained to me yet, so I'm not signing this." She was fine with it, and said if I wanted to wait until they were explained to sign, that was fine. Um, obviously I do. Why would I sign something like that before having talked to the doctor? It's asking me to excuse the practice from all liabilities - um, no.

So the doctor comes in (from down the steps, which makes me think she lives in the house) and takes me back to a "room", but not really a room since there's no door, just a curtain. She asks me if I've shaved (no) and then hands me a razor and asks me to do a dry shave of the area. She explains why and all, and seems to have her reasons downpat (something about the laser not picking up the root if the hair is too long, blah blah), so I shave. (I also should point out, most places do consultations to make sure you're a good candidate for laser hair removal. Apparently she knew just looking at me??) She comes back in the room, has me lay back, and starts up the machine. Yeah, that's right. She didn't say a damn thing. Glad I didn't sign that paperwork! But again, I'm still not nervous for some reason. She as a person is very nice and makes me feel comfortable, minus the lack of information.

She has me put on these goggles (think tanning goggles but without the holes, so you can't see anything), and tells me the naked eye can't be exposed to the laser. I feel her put this cooling gel on me, and she tells me I may feel a bit of heat, but no pain. What?? No pain?? That's not what the interweb says! So I'm skeptical, waiting for the pain to come. She says "how was that?" I say "how was what?" If you're following, I can't see anything she's doing. But apparently she started and I didn't feel a damn thing. Ok, a bit of a lie. I could feel what felt like basically a roll on deodorant stick being rolled around on my body. So I felt THAT, but I felt NO pain, NO heat, nothing related to lasers. What the H-E-double hockey stick is going on here? I can hear the laser machine on, but I feel nothing that feels like I would imagine a laser feels like. I had to have fungi lasered off my foot once, and let me tell you, that HURT. AND they put about 13 shots of numbing stuff in it beforehand. Lasers = not pleasant. So... why does this laser feel so awesome? In the middle of it all, she asks if I want another area added on at all. I ask her how much, she leaves to find out, comes back and tells me $40 a session. Seriously? Done. So she does it. When she's all done she has me wipe the gel off, put some cortisone cream on, and meet her at the front desk for payment. The receptionist must only work til 5, because she was gone and the doctor herself was checking me out. Apparently they didn't have their credit card machine up and running yet because in order to use my credit card (I don't even THINK to carry cash anywhere these days), she had to send me a PayPal invoice and have me log onto her computer to pay it. Awkward? Sure. Did someone walk in and think I was the receptionist while I was doing it? Of course.

What I really think is happening here is there's this young doctor who lives in the house the carriage house is behind and is trying to build a medical spa from the ground up. Like I said, the actual inside looks all spa-like, it's just really tiny and happens to be in a garage. Weird? Yes. Does it probably scare a lot of people off? I'm sure. They may just be offering this awesome discount in order to build up their customer base. 589 people bought this deal - I checked! And there were other normal looking potential suckers patients there while I was there.

Yes, there are about 50 red flags in this post, and I'm sure you've all raised your eyebrows (or maybe even gasped out loud) at least once while reading it, but... I'm oddly optimistic? Hey, it's only 100 bucks, and I totally wouldn't pay $500+ per session anywhere else.

So I've either been duped or had the most awesome laser hair removal experience ever. The beauty of it is that I won't know for at least a couple weeks (until the hair falls out, or it grows back in the same spot I shaved). I'll keep you posted. Oh, and if this turns out to not be a scam I'm totally doing like every hair on my body. Except my head. That would be weird.


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