What IS pain? How does one define this elusive term?
...Ah, yes, the question of whether or not laser hair removal hurts is a highly subjective matter.
On the one hand, the FDA has simplified it for us: they prohibit companies from promoting laser hair removal as “painless,” because, well, it’s not. Hair removal lasers use heat to destroy the hair beneath your skin, so the process certainly won’t go unnoticed.
On the other hand, everyone’s pain threshold is different. Laser hair removal patients tend to report a variety of sensations…a sting, a tickle, a snap (you’ll often read it’s “like a rubber band snapping your skin”), or an ache. But the overwhelming consensus is that the sensation is bearable and worth it. Often compared to discomfort of waxing, many consider the discomfort associated with laser hair removal to be a good thing, because it means the treatment is working. However, if you feel continued excessive pain, or something that resembles burning, speak up so your technician can adjust your laser settings.
The key is to prepare yourself for some level of discomfort. At best, you’ll be pleasantly relieved to feel nothing and at worst, you’ll be in the right mindset to bear it.
Laser Hair Removal Pain Management: Cooling Devices
While the hair absorbs the laser energy, some heat will be transmitted from the hair shaft, to the surrounding tissue. It lasts for a few milliseconds, but it’s something that you will inevitably feel. Some lasers today are designed with this in mind.
Manufacturers have developed cooling devices that are attached to the tip of the laser. They cool off the surrounding skin in order to absorb the heat that is transmitted from the destroyed hair shaft. No uncomfortable sloppy second heat from these lasers!
Laser Hair Removal Pain Management: Numbing Cream
An anesthetic is not required for laser hair removal, but if you are concerned that you will have trouble with the discomfort, there are prescription numbing creams available through most laser hair removal clinics. Many professionals recommend that you try at least one treatment without it, just to see how you handle this new sensation. It should also be reserved for smaller areas, such as upper lip, bikini, or underarms, and in moderate amounts. If you do opt for a numbing cream, apply it about 1 hour before treatment, and be sure to read the application instructions closely.