This is going to be a long story as every part of it has something to learn from. This is my personal experience with laser hair removal and the accidental burns that I have suffered, which left behind permanent burn marks on my chin. It all started several months ago when I finally decided to start with my laser sessions to get rid of the unwanted cheeks and chin hairs (Primarily known as the beard).
Finding a laser clinic wasn’t difficult. My best friend helped me out with it. Almost all of them were far from where I live in Mumbai, I still decided to book a consultation to understand the basics at the least. Also, I needed some moral support as it was my first time and I had to disclose my identity by opening my mask to the dermatologist/therapist. I was carrying all my blood reports but I felt like I had no confidence at all. My first visit was to a very posh clinic where the Dermatologist examined my skin and hair thickness and came up with the pricing package, which clearly stated that she wasn’t ready to do this job. The price was INR 64,000/- for 10 sessions and she even told me about the newly introduced method she would use. They charged me a consultation fee of Rs. 900/-. The next consultation I had was with a transphobic dermatologist who spent 37 minutes out of the 38 expressing her phobia without even making me feel bad. A real artist I must say! According to her, my blood reports, hormonal level reports and other reports were of a cisgender woman and if I had not mentioned it, she wouldn’t have come to know that I am not a cisgender woman. She came up with a quotation of INR 5000/- per session and insisted upon buying the package of 10 sessions which she was ready to offer @ INR 40,000/-. She even forcibly handed a sunscreen to me @ Rs. 499/- because she was sure I wouldn’t return. Eventually, even that cream got stolen by my sister. They also charged me a consulting fee of Rs. 650/-. Then my 3rd visit on the same day was to a clinic about 10 km’s from my house which had no doctors, but the therapist had a certification in laser therapy. He was confident in his approach and we even saw other transgender sisters waiting in the lobby, which made me feel really more comfortable and confident. He promised to help me get rid of every single hair on my lower face in unlimited sessions @ Rs. 25,000/-. But somehow, I still wasn’t really convinced because he wasn’t a doctor and took no responsibility for any accidental injuries. A few days passed and my best friend shared contact of a clinic named “Claro” near to my house which was at a distance of just 5 mins. I booked an appointment for the next day. The lobby was full of women who had come for various skincare treatments. After waiting for 5-10 minutes, I was called inside by the doctor. Dr Avanti Trivedi, a very intelligent young lady, most humble and hospitable by nature, closely observed my skin, hair thickness and all the reports I carried with me. She offered me a very convincing deal and was clear about the side effects and other things which actually convinced me. Claro offered me 4 Sessions @ INR 2500 each and if I paid for 4 sessions in advance, they would even provide 2 complimentary free sessions with a total cost of Rs. 12000/- + GST. I was impressed, with not just the price but also with the fact that the Doctor herself said that I won’t require more than 6 sessions to get rid of all the unwanted facial hair and she even covered my eyebrows by the way.
CHOOSING A SUITABLE METHOD
Primarily there are two methods of performing Laser Hair Removal
In my case, the first method was used for the upper lips until the 4th session and the second method for the rest of the face i.e., my chin and neck. Even though I never really had hair on my cheek. During every session, the doctor would first-come, observe the skin and the hair growth and then do certain markings using a pencil to divide each area for a specific energy range. She would then advise the therapist to go accordingly. The therapist was also really funny! She would try hard to keep me cheerful during the entirety of this painful process, through her sense of humour. She would even lend me a cushion to grab on while she would thoroughly perform her task.
The in-line motion felt like sparks and stings as she moved the hand-held gun in a circular motion over my skin, after applying the gel. Please note, that gel is not just meant for lubrication but even to reduce pain by numbing the upper layer of the skin, but laser pulse penetrates deeper until the follicles and thus it makes no sense and is still painful. During each area she covered, I had to stop her after every few seconds because of the pain. The pain that occurred during the in-line motion was still bearable. Then at the end, she mentally prepared me for the stamping procedure on my upper lips. Just 10 shots and I would feel cremated. Each shot felt like a bunch of hundred hairs being plucked mercilessly by an electric shock. Each shot shook me from head to toe and eventually, the headrest would give up and snap backwards. After 3-4 shots I would ask her to stop, get up, take my eye mask off, ask for a mirror and look at the dead follicles spread across my incredibly swollen upper lips like the dead fishes on a shore. Once everything was done, she would come by and apply ice all over the affected area, she would even pack a few cubes in rubber hand gloves for me to do the icing while on the way back home which I would quietly throw into the bin as “who would do that walking on the street way back home huh?”
A TURN FOR THE WORSE
It was my 5th session a few days back when things took an ugly turn. I wouldn’t blame the doctor and/or the therapist as they just tried to close the topic soon without leaving a possibility for me to come over and over again even after the planned and finalized 6 sessions. The doctor came in as usual; she did the markings and while doing that she asked the therapist about the energy levels and the method she used to every specific region on my face. On confirming with her, she advised her to raise the energy (power) levels to the highest and perform the stamping method not just on my upper lips but even on my chin this time. I was nervous already but I gathered strength and laid down on my regular death bed. The therapist started with the in-line motion first. She covered the areas one by one which already had no hair growth by that time. I felt it comfortable and to an extent relaxing. There was no sting felt during the entire process, in fact just a bit of mild tickling. After 30 mins of that procedure, she applied more gel and informed me that she would be starting with the stamping method now. I gathered in my forgotten courage once again and amidst all the fears and nervousness I said “start”. That first shot refreshed all my childhood memories. After three shots I began to cry like a baby. On realizing that, she caressed my forehead and asked me if I needed water, but I opted for getting up from the bed once. She generously allowed and I could see tears in her eyes as well. She even said, “I can really feel your pain”. Every single shot after that was a visit to hell and coming back. That sound, the stench of the burning follicles and the pain were getting registered firmly in my memory. Just before the few last shots I asked her, “how many more left ma’am?” She replied, “Just 5- 6 more, trust me I will do it really quickly” and she did, but they weren’t 5-6, they were 11 in all. Once it was all done, I got up from the recliner bed slowly like a feather. I gently took off my eye mask. The cups of the mask were filled with my tears by then, waiting to spill every dropout, screaming the pain and agony I suffered. I came back home, applied my regular ointment which the doctor had prescribed on day 1, passed the day and went to sleep with the burning sensation all over my chin and upper lips the whole night.
A new day began with bright sunlight, sneaking through the roughly drawn curtain over my windows. I usually don’t see the mirror when I get up. I go straight into the bathroom. I rested and relieved myself and then turned on to the mirror to pick up my toothbrush. That sight my eye witnessed is something my words won’t be able to describe so well. My entire chin had blisters all filled with water and my upper lips had burn marks. I came out half crying and depressed. Took my phone clicked a picture and sent it to the doctor. She did not keep me waiting, perhaps she was shocked herself too. She came up with a prescription mentioning antibiotics capsules and another ointment, advising me for the next 5 days followed by a reporting. The blisters popped and the burnt skin peeled off after 5 days but the pain stayed. The pain on my skin was less, but the one deep inside of my heart was bad. I reported my condition by sending my pics and she assured me that the marks would go. It’s the 10th day after the incident. I had been to another dermatologist today morning just to have a fresh perspective on the burn marks and he confirmed that two of the major ones are permanent and they will require a cosmetic surgery procedure called skin overlay.
To all my sisters here, I just have a few suggestions for you which I insist you consider before and while going for a laser hair removal session
- Just because this has happened with me, it’s not necessary that it will happen with you. We all have different skins, colours, hair types etc.
- Do not go for quick methods. Take time, and get multiple sessions with moderate energy lasers.
- Always undergo the treatment/therapy under a certified dermatologist (doctor) and not any experienced therapist.
- Yes, indeed the pain I suffered was high. I am sensitive towards pain more than average girls. However, no pain no gain.