First Session Hurts the Most
Because the laser energy is absorbed in the hair follicle producing heat, there is some sensation when performing laser hair removal. 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 hair. This is because the thicker, darker hair will absorb more of the laser light during any given treatment. Generally, the hair becomes thinner and less dense after each subsequent treatment. Therefore, the most discomfort is usually experienced during the first treatment.
Pain Varies Between Individuals
The discomfort associated with laser hair removal varies considerably between individuals, and is a function of the patient’s skin type, the laser being used, the thickness and density of the hair, the area of the body where the hair is being treated, and one's ability to tolerate or feel pain. In some situations, numbing creams can be used. However, numbing creams partially eliminate the ability of the patient to report on the discomfort associated with a treatment, which may be an indication of how this treatment compares with previous treatments.
Discomfort Rarely Limits Treatment
Discomfort is one of the many factors the person administering the laser treatment will use to determine the appropriate setting for the laser. Patients should be discouraged from applying numbing cream themselves to large areas of the body prior to laser treatment. Although prescription numbing creams are generally safe, putting them on large areas of the body can result in the numbing medications being absorbed into the bloodstream in significant amounts. In my office, I prefer to have my staff apply numbing creams while the patient is in my office when they are needed, so that I can control the amount of cream applied and the surface area over which it is applied. In general, discomfort rarely limits the ability to perform laser treatment. However, in a small number of patients it does limit ones ability to receive laser hair removal treatments.