Does Laser Hurt?
First Session Is Most Uncomfortable
Because laser light produces heat, you’ll feel some kind of sensation during your hair removal treatment. In addition, hair follicles are surrounded by nerve endings, which may react to the heat by creating a sensation of discomfort or even mild pain. Patients often compare the sensation to having a rubber band snapped against their skin. Certain areas of the body hurt more than others during laser hair removal. In addition, patients with very thick, dark hair may experience more discomfort than those with thin or light-colored hair. This is because thicker, darker hair absorbs more of the laser light during treatment. Generally, the hair becomes thinner and less dense after each subsequent treatment. That’s why the most discomfort is usually experienced during the first treatment.
Pain Varies Among Individuals
The discomfort associated with laser hair removal varies considerably among individuals. How much discomfort you’ll feel will depend not only on such factors as your skin type, the thickness and density of your hair, and the area of your body being treated, but also on your ability to tolerate or feel pain. Although it rarely occurs, a small number of patients find that they are unable to undergo laser hair removal treatments due to their low threshhold for pain.
Numbing Creams Are Sometimes Used
In some situations, a numbing cream can be used to minimize the discomfort. Talk with your clinican before using any numbing cream, however. Discomfort is one of the factors that clinicians use to determine the appropriate setting for the laser. Also, although prescription numbing creams are generally safe, putting them on large areas of the body can cause them to be absorbed into the bloodstream (through the skin) in too-high amounts. Do not apply numbing cream to your own skin before treatment. Let the professionals do it. I always have my staff apply numbing cream (when such topical anesthetics are needed) to my patients so I can control both how much is used and how big an area is covered.