I had been waxing my legs for a couple of years, but I have a few problems with waxing. The main problems are:
1) Waxing is painful.
2) Waxing is expensive.
3) Waxing takes a lot of time (about 45 minutes per treatment.)
4) I was left with sticky wax on my legs and some irritation after waxing.
At $55 per waxing treatment, 4-6 times per year, for the rest of my life, waxing wasn’t a pleasant alternative. Neither, however, was shaving. Shaving was also time-consuming and, worse, was causing irritation and ingrown hairs — to the point that I couldn’t shave very often. Plus, shaving is just annoying. I also have a “treasure trail” of hair on my stomach below my belly button that I’ve always hated, and neither shaving nor waxing ever got rid of that to my satisfaction.
There was a small forest growing on my legs, so I needed to do something in order to feel comfortable wearing shorts. The answer came when I found out my chiropractor’s wife, Kathy, does hair removal treatments. Since my chiropractor (his name is Todd Bragg, and if you’re in or around San Jose, look him up) is awesome and I trust him, I decided to give the laser hair removal a shot.
My first appointment with Kathy was last week. She explained that I needed to shave before doing a laser hair removal treatment and did a couple of “test spots” on my stomach. I was surprised by how little it hurt. The laser hair removal practitioners usually describe it as a flash of white light followed by a zap/sting that’s approximately equivalent to being flipped with a rubber band. I wasn’t bothered by it much at all, however. It mostly felt hot.
Treatments are done approximately every 6 weeks since hair grows in cycles. Each treatment for legs+stomach runs $204 if I pay in cash or $215 to pay by credit card. Kathy said that it would take approximately 6-10 treatments to be completely done, but once the treatments are done, you don’t have to shave or wax for at least 20 years (during mid-life most people have a second hair growth phase which will require a few more treatments to completely laser away.) While $1200+ may sound expensive, consider that I was spending $55 per leg wax treatment at least 4 times per year. It doesn’t take very long to make that back up. Furthermore, it’s not the money I’m most concerned about, but my time. Life is short and I don’t want to deal with waxing, shaving, and ingrown hairs. One of my goals in life is to focus my time carefully so that I never spend time doing things I don’t want to do (more on that in a later blog entry.) Suffice it to say that the time and money saved by doing laser hair removal now will pay out many times over in my life.
Since the test treatment went so well, I decided to get both of my legs done (I’m doing the bottom half of each leg only) as well as my “treasure trail.” My first treatment was today and overall, it went really well! It took about an hour start to finish, with 40 minutes of actual treatment. Basically, the practitioner puts a small device over the area that is getting hair removed. The device does about 1″x2.5″ every time. You see a light flash (she asks you to keep your eyes closed) and then feel a heat flash. I noticed that my left leg tended to feel more “sharp” tingles and my right leg seemed to feel more “burn” sorts of feelings. Either way, it’s relatively painless and not nearly at the level of waxing. The most sensitive area was the back of my knees, which felt like someone jabbed me pretty hard with a fingernail. (I have lots of experience with this since I have two cats with claws. Cat scratches are way more painful than anything I experienced today.) Most of the time my legs just felt hot for a few seconds, and that was it.
I tuned out of most of it, put some chill music on my iPod, and listened to my own breathing, and by the end of the treatment I was mostly asleep and relaxed. The key for me was listening to my breathing…that way I didn’t anticipate anything and force my legs into a reflexive recoil. I had to really mentally focus for a while to get my thoughts onto my breathing and not onto “I wonder if this next one will be painful?” I realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t very painful. Listening to my breathing and keeping my thoughts on the breathing and the beat of the music enabled me to completely tune out of what was going on.
My next appointment is in 6 weeks. I meant to take a picture of my legs today so I could showcase this on Flickr, but I forgot. Hopefully I’ll remember to take one next time so I can further track my progress. I should be able to see a noticeable difference even 6 weeks from now. We’ll see! 🙂