Ah. Yes. Where do the legs go on that thing again?
January 11, 2009 11:03 AM   Subscribe

I have a few questions about bellow-the-belt laser hair removal.

I've decided I want to get a full bikini hair laser removal. Everything gone. I have a few questions about the whole process though (which yes, I will also be asking when I go in to get the thing done, but I'd still like to know what to expect beforehand).

- When you go in for the first consultation, the one when they assess your skin and hair type and whether you are a good candidate, are you supposed to not wax/shave beforehand for a while? I mean, they have to see the hair, so you're not supposed to be groomed, right?

- When doing the actual procedure, how do they place you? Stir-ups like a Gyn? Or... what? FYI, I've never got a Brazilian wax done at a salon, so a description of... placement is welcome.

- Also, do they protect your *most delicate* skin and bits *right next to that laser beam* with something?

- Has anyone had this done and then regretted it? I can't see any reason why I'd need pubic hair anytime in my life, but still, I've never done anything so permanent, ever.

- If there's anything important I'm forgetting, or something you wish you'd known before you had this done, please do share.
posted by neblina_matinal to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (16 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My mother is a nurse who used to do laser hair removal (the doctors she worked for did at as a side money maker). IIRC, you shouldn't shave beforehand- I believe she used to complain about people who did that, because it made it much harder to see what their hair was like and how much work they needed. You also have to have some stubble to make the lasering work at all. They might do some lasering the first time you go in; part of determining how well your hair is suited to lasering is seeing how it reacts to different settings and adjusting the laser when you come in again and they see the results. As for the more... delicate questions, I can't say.
posted by MadamM at 11:25 AM on January 11, 2009

I haven't had it done below the belt, but my underarms have felt the sting of the laser, and I can tell you that it stings. The pain will be considerable down there, and it won't be as fast as waxing. They may go over the area multiple times. I'd suggest to see where waxing will fit on your tolerance scale, because I decided that even though I would love to get that area lasered, the amount of discomfort isn't worth it to me personally.

Also, be aware that you might get a lot of mefites arguing passionately about the lack of necessity for full removal like that, how there are people who prefer hair, how you're wonderful just the way you are, yadda yadda. Do what you want because -you- want it.
posted by Bakuun at 11:26 AM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

Just to warn you, I went in for a laser consultation and was told that if one ever plans to get pregnant, the hair is likely to grow back. Multiple girlfriends have confirmed that this occurs.
posted by k8t at 11:39 AM on January 11, 2009

Response by poster: Bakuun, it never even occurred to me that the hair removal would be done for anyone other than myself. I'm just tired of shaving (which I do regardless of who may or may not be seeing me naked). The only reason I ask about it is because it is so permanent. What I do have is a very real fear of commitment. I'm asking about bellow-the-belt specifically because I'm not getting done anywhere else for the simple reason my body hair is too light and thin.
I didn't ask about pain, because I know people who've had it done (on the face) and I'm prepared for it to be quite painful. It's okay, because even though I don't like it, I can handle pain pretty well. Also, there's an ultimate "no hair" goal with laser which isn't present in waxing.

k8t: Does it happen all over, or just in the bikini area? I had no idea about that one.
posted by neblina_matinal at 11:48 AM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I had my first treatment about a month ago and don't regret it at all. My hair 'down there' grows in really thick and I've been plagued by ingrown hairs since puberty.

I had the area completely lasered thinking that for my next treatment I'd just leave a 'landing strip' that was thinner than before. Well, I guess I've got the ideal hair/skin combo because it's barely growing back in.

I was advised by the clinic to shave the entire area that you want lasered and the technician even shaved a few spots that I had missed. I was worried too about my ladybits but the laser didn't even come close to them. It was like a gun-type instrument that was in constant contact with my skin. It was VERY painful, like 40-year-old-virgin-waxing-scene painful. Get the numbing cream if they recommend it.

As for stirrups, etc. I just basically laid on an exam table and she moved my legs where she needed them.

I can't say that I'm too excited about treatment #2 coming up in a few weeks though.
posted by kelrae3 at 12:08 PM on January 11, 2009

Best answer: Regrowth happens because of hormonal fluctuations during and after pregnancy. However, some plans have options for touch ups long after the standard 5-9 visits are over. For example, my plan at Ideal Image includes 9 visits (about 8 weeks apart iirc). After that, each laser pulse costs a dollar, so if I need to do touch ups it's pretty cheap. However, I imagine the bikini area would be a fair number of laser pulses- my underarm treatments seem interminable. So a touch up session might be $50- but that's the same as a wax anyway.

So when you go shopping around at laser treatment centers ask them what the options are for treatment after the standard number of visits. Learn about the training of the staff and check out one of the treatment rooms. They should ask you medical details like what prescriptions you're on and advise you to avoid the sun. Also, for pain you can get a prescription for a numbing cream. I'd try a treatment without first, but it may be worth it if it's as many laser pulses as I think it might be.

When I decided to do my underarms I felt kind of iffy about it too. I was a little worried that I would somehow miss it, but I just forget about it until I realize, whoa I haven't had to shave in weeks. Then it's neat : )
posted by Mouse Army at 12:22 PM on January 11, 2009

Best answer: I just completed a course of treatments for a full brazilian and really love the results.

A few points: the vella hairs, the light, insubstantial hairs will still continue to grow unaffected.

You really need to do your research about which kind of laser you want used and who has it. There are a lot of places offering IPL as "laser" which it most certainly is not. In my research, the YAG and the Alexandrite lasers are the best, the Alexandrite hurts less and works just as well as the YAG for dark hair and light skin while the YAG can be less expensive but hurts more and is better for people with darker tones of skin.

Make sure the place you're going to is under a physician's supervision- in California, it is the law that it be supervised by a physician and done by a RN.

Expect it to be expensive, but bargain down for a higher downpayment. I paid a lot less by prepaying for six treatments.

Expect there to be touch-up required. I had superb results but the nurses say they often see people it doesn't work well on. Moreover, I'm anticipating having to go back in for a touchup every year or so.

The place I went in SF was a posh spa- no stirrups, just a very nice lady who helped you into a spa robe and low, soothing music. Tea before and after to relax.
posted by arnicae at 12:43 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

And to the question of protecting your most delicate bits- no, but the laser is VERY focused. Also, it doesn't have an impact on anything but hair (in the research I've read). In fact, they can zap your arm, for example, and you won't feel anything- the laser only hurts when there is dark hair to zap. The different kinds of lasers penetrate different amounts into the skin, you may choose to do research on that as well.

And in terms of pain, the most painful part for me was the top of the bikini line- a couple of inches below my navel, above my pubis. It was a relief when the laser got down to the more, erm, delicate bits, to use your phrasing because it didn't hurt half as bad!
posted by arnicae at 12:45 PM on January 11, 2009

I was pregnant last year and my hair growth everywhere was insane. This is apparently pretty normal.

I'd be ticked if I did laser to get permanent removal and then it started growing back.
posted by k8t at 1:08 PM on January 11, 2009

regarding regrowth due to pregnancy: is it just a phase during after pregnancy? i.e. does it subside after you're pregnant?
posted by randomstriker at 1:15 PM on January 11, 2009

I'd be ticked if I did laser to get permanent removal and then it started growing back.

This is why better laser places are careful to use language like "hair reduction" and "delayed follicle regrowth" -- the early promises of permanency turned out to not be true for many people. My understanding is that one should expect to need periodic (perhaps yearly) touch-ups, with a huge variance in results depending on skin and hair colors, type of laser, skill of the technician, and how lucky or unlucky you are.

Has anyone had this done and then regretted it? I can't see any reason why I'd need pubic hair anytime in my life, but still, I've never done anything so permanent, ever.

This is why my partner got her bikini line done the other year, but not the full area. Pubic hair fashions come and go, and the hairless look that was common in recent years will eventually become as dated as beehive hairdos. She keeps considering going back and having more removed, but is reluctant to take that kind of permanent step for something that is so tied to the fashion of the moment.

For pain, she says, and I quote, "It hurts like a motherfucker, way worse than waxing," with some areas a lot more painful than others. But the pain doesn't last -- just a short, sharp pain, not a lingering burning.
posted by Forktine at 1:30 PM on January 11, 2009

i got one treatment before a six month trip - it was extremely painful. as in, uncontrollable muscle spasms. i really would not want to go through such pain again. the numbing cream was no help at all. and no stirrups.

you should probably not shave before you come into the consultation, but they only need to see how thick and how dark your hair is. a a few days' growth should be more than enough.
you needs to shave, and shave well, before the laser sessions.
posted by ye#ara at 1:55 PM on January 11, 2009

Best answer: I went to American Laser Center. I forget my consultation but I remember how I wanted to get laser hair and all of a sudden I was also getting microdermabrasion series, too.

In terms of placement, I was on my back and bent my knee and had my leg to the side. Have you ever done ballet? It's a passe but on your back. Then they squirt this frickin freezing cold gel on you and then spread it with a popsicle stick and then they start lasering. It's like being shot at by a rubber band.

No, they didn't put any protection for the delicate bits. But you do get a fun ice pack to hold against your crotch at the end. And then you lotion up.

I did regret it because even after about 2 years only a few parts in the front are really gone hair wise. My hair down there just wasn't a good candidate for removal. I did get it on my armpits, sideburns and lip and I'm happy with those results. However, the cost of the procedures and the non-success made me regret having it done. Though I do feel my pain threshold is impressively high now. Which was bad when my boyfriend burned his hand and I was treating him like a wuss.
posted by spec80 at 3:00 PM on January 11, 2009

Best answer: I have had laser hair removal on many parts of my body and am currently on the 6th of 8 treatments for my entire legs, including bikini line.

I am not getting my bikini line done in any fancy way, so for me, it's just a matter of pulling my panties up so the laserist(?) can get to the spot she needs to get to.

Anywhere there is fat will not hurt as bad as anywhere where it's like just skin on bone. For instance, I got my arms lasered, and that hurt. But my thighs don't hurt because there is more fat there.

Also, as you have more sessions, the hair follicles will disappear and there will be no dark hair to transmit the laser energy into the follice, so that will reduce the pain.

Yes, it hurts. Most places will give you numbing cream, but in my experience it didn't do anything. I much prefer a combination of ibuprofen and Ultracet (tramadol with Tylenol). The pain is temporary and fleeting, and by the time the session is finished, you won't even remember it.

I was also pregnant and gave birth 8 months ago. During my pregnancy I had to suspend treatments. I noticed that my underarm hair, while still fine, has picked up the pace of growth, as have my chin hairs; it seems like I have to pluck/shave them more often than I did pre-pregnancy. I had these areas lasered four years ago. But, my current treatment areas have been the same.

When you go to be evaluated--and I suggest you to go at least two places--ask them which types of lasers they use, and if they have different lasers for different skin/hair combinations. Some work better than others on different contrasts. Also ask how many sessions they include; you will need at least 6, probably more like 8, several weeks apart to catch the growth in all of its cycles. They may want to examine the areas to be lasered, but they will probably be able to surmise the situation without an exam. You don't have to shave or wax beforehand. (However, when you have treatments, it's more comfortable to shave beforehand; you can't wax. Your technician will always shave any hair you miss.)

I have never regretted this a day in my life. It's the best money I've ever spent. The difference is remarkable and I highly recommend it to anyone. If you are in the Atlanta area, let me know and I will make you a referral to my laser place. It's excellent.
posted by FergieBelle at 3:06 PM on January 11, 2009

If you go for it, do try to schedule all of your appointments one week after your period. Your pain tolerance is much, much higher. I didn't believe it myself, but went in for a wax at the wrong time, and couldn't handle pain that had been completely tolerable before.

I doubt you'll be in stirrups, but someone will most likely have a giant, neon-lit magnifying glass all up in your business, so be prepared for that.

As for the need for pubic hair, it is there for a reason. I know someone who saw a major increase in UTIs after getting regular brazilians. She was able to mitigate this by changing her after-sex behavior, but it's something to be aware of. This is also COMPLETELY ANECDOTAL. Her increase in UTIs may have been related to something else, but she swears that was the culprit.
posted by pazazygeek at 5:04 PM on January 11, 2009

I did this. It was very successful on my legs and much less successful (although knocked growth down by about 75% or so) on my bikini area.

When I initially went in for the consultation, I did not shave, so they could see the hair color/texture/coarseness. They do have you shave completely before you actually get lasered, because the smell of burning hair is oh-so-pretty.

When I got it done, I was naked from the waist down, the nurses who performed the procedure were extremely professional about being all in my business. In order to get to the -uh - Brazilian area, they have you lie on your back with your legs kind of in a 'frog' position.

Call your dermatologist and get a prescription for EMLA cream. Put it on 2 hours before the appointment, a good thick layer of it, and cover it with saran wrap. This takes the pain level from 'excruciating' to 'completely manageable'. I would have not been able to handle visits #2-6 without this magical stuff.

Ask them about a guarantee, as in, if you are not happy after your 5 or 6 package sessions do they do touch ups for free for a couple of years. The place that I went to did not do this, and I wish they had. Some places do this. They also changed the type of laser TWICE over the course of the 6 treatments I had, and one of those types I feel was much, much more ineffective than the others. I would ask about those kinds of circumstances as well.

Good luck and memail me if you have questions.
posted by 8dot3 at 6:42 AM on January 12, 2009

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