Sunday, March 23, 2008

Laser Hair Removal : 10th Appointment. Yes, 10th.

If you've been following this personal series in laser hair removal with me and American Laser Center, you will have noticed that I skipped a post about my 9th appointment. That is because nothing happened after that appointment, and even I was bored with writing about it. For my 10th appointment, which was booked for 2 hours, you can imagine that I was finally a little ticked. I appreciate the lengthy time session, but come on. I can't keep doing this. If you've been following earlier comments and posts, you'll see that I'm really an enthusiast for laser hair removal, and for my American Laser Center office, that used to be on Central Park West but is now on W. 57th Street, just around the corner.

Sadly, I have become one of the frustrated American Laser Center people who find this series when researching on Google. Aside from the fact that nothing happened after my 9th appointment, which used a "new" machine that went up to 50 instead of 30, and I insisted on being at 40 which had been unprecedented in that office before, I finally got the defensive treatment from "management" that so many other girls complain about, as expressed in this review article, for example. Here are some great review comments from customers who did good research, and here are some more truthful review comments where people get upset, and I think I lost a reader. :(

To recap: I am having my thighs, bikini and little love trail done. I'm blond with dark leg hair (if guys are reading this, just know that this is not the article for you, so move on please, unless you are considering laser for your back, for example). The thigh hair has gotten much softer, but there is a lot of little active follicles that are not going away. I used to say 80% gone, but really, it's like 70%. Or maybe even more depressing, 60%. The bikini is truly 85% gone, but again, it's my 10th appointment, so in my opinion, it should be 100% gone. American Laser Center quotes 6 appointments, and then "gives" you 2 extra years, which I thought was a great cushion. But now am realizing that it might be a sad reality. Even more frustrating is when I hear success stories from friends who go to other laser companies and are done in 4 appointments. My Syrian friend, for example, did her face and arm pits, and the hair was gone in 4 appointments. She has just started her arms.

The laser has never hurt me, and I have never seen "hair shedding" or "hair falling out". My last appointment on the supposedly stronger and new machine did finally hurt, and I was on a setting that most others do not go to, or so I was told by the technician. That was for my 9th appointment, and I saw no results. Zero.

As to why I'm mad, and am now an angry American Laser Center customer? The office manager became very defensive with me when I stated a complaint, and blamed me for my poor treatment. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Do other girls take 10 appointments to get rid of hair?

Office Manager: Yes, it varies. Some do.

Me: About how many of them are there? Am I in the minority? The majority? How many other girls take 10 appointments?

Office Manager: Have you been double-something (I forgot the term...means to go over the area twice with the laser)?

Me: No...

Office Manager: Well, you should have been double-something. You are booked today for the double.

Me: I didn't know the double-something existed. I only know that when I booked this appointment, a girl booked me for 2 hours, and that is the first time I've ever been booked for 2 hours. And I was on the new machine last time.

Office Manager: Well, you should have been doing the double, so you are booked for it, and that should help. Next time, just make sure you note that you want the double-something. You're not booked on the new machine this time.

Me: I'm not a laser expert. I did not know about the possibility of the double-something, I just know that I am here for my 10th appointment. And why aren't I on the stronger machine?

Office Manager: If you have been unhappy with your treatment, you should have told me.

Me: I tell the technicians every time I am in an appointment. I ask them every single time if it's normal for others to be here for this long. They just say that it varies, they take a little picture of my skin, and file it away.

Office Manager: Well they have not told me. I should tell them to come to me when clients are unhappy. And I've just had a turn-over of all of my girls, so everyone is new.

Me: I have told all of the girls twice. I told X, I told Y.

Office Manager: Well X and Y aren't here anymore.

Me: I realize that, but they new, twice each of them, and another girl, because I have had so many appointments.

Office Manager: The next time you have an appointment, just make sure to note that you want the stronger machine and the double something.

The conversation kind of fizzled out after that. There was no "I'm so sorry..." or "We should have been doing this..." or "About 10% of people take 10 or more appointments" which leads me to believe that most of them take this long. Which is a damaging way to present a case when you are considering a $2000 investment that thank goodness I have paid off, so now get to be angry.

During my appointment, I expressed, again, these concerns to the technician. I was on my second round with her, meaning, I had had her the last time on the stronger machine. She suggested that perhaps the stronger machine was not good for me, since I had seen zero results, and to maybe continue on the old machine and double up. She said that she has seen differences with the two machines - that some people see results on it while others don't, and vice versa with the old machine.

I'll wait a few weeks before posting again, to see what kind of effect there was. The technician also suggested exfoliating the areas to work out the dead hairs that may be stuck under the skin. Fair enough. Stay tuned, and chime in if you've had a similar experience, or if you've found success under 6 appointments, or if 6 is just a myth.

See all posts about my laser appointments and findings >


Disclaimer: FashionMista, nor its author, are qualified to give medical advice and cannot be held responsible for anything that may occur. Should you have a medical concern, please consult your physician.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Mista,

I want to share my experiences with ALC. After not seeing results afte rthe first two sessions, I started complaining and they did a double pass on all treatment areas. From that point on, I always have them do a double pass on all my sessions.

Also, I always tell the techs to put it on a high setting.

Also note that in my location they have 2 lasers. One is easy and does not hurt at all. The other is extremely paintful. I have used the painful laser a few times and I'm seeing results with that, especially in my underarms.

I do see some shedding of hair. It takes 2 weeks after laser before i see the shedding. Those hairs are loose in the folicle and just fall out.

What also helps is to use some numbing cream before laser. It's called LMX and you can get it off drugstore.com. After using this cream I can get through the higher settings.

Hope this helps

Mista said...

Many thanks, Anonymous. Boy, I wish I had known about this double pass earlier. I'm going to look more closely for the shedding. Also did not know about the numbing cream. Thanks!

Katie said...

I have had two sessions at the center in San Jose, CA. I am now five weeks after my second, and I am seeing results. I am doing "extended bikini" (which means absolutely everything), lower legs (knees down), and underarms. I have light brown hair and eyes (but black hair on the areas being lasered) and easily-tanned skin, so I thought it'd be a while before I noticed results (plus I was really wary of American Laser after reading lots of terrible reviews AFTER I'd already signed the contract and paid in full). But after two sessions, I think I'm well on my way. My hair sheds each time about two weeks after the session and some of it doesn't grow back. My underarms are probably 50% gone, while my lower legs are probably 40% gone. The bikini is tougher, but it's probably 25%. In my second session I had my underarms done at 24 (not too painful), my lower legs at 22 (only painful in some places), and my bikini area at 16 (white-knuckle pain). I've had more than one issue with them canceling on me because "the laser was broken," and that made me not thrilled. But...other than that, I have to say I'm pretty happy. I can't wait for my third treatment. The technicians have been really nice both times, and they've both been lasering themselves. The one had excellent results on her forearms; it definitely made me hopeful. I'm sorry your results haven't been awesome so far. I hope that things get better.

Mista said...

Katie: Thank you so much for sharing your experience. 16 - wow! We must be on different machines, since I was at 40 and got white knuckle only a few times depending on where the laser hit. I still don't get this shedding thing. Maybe mine just falls out and I don't notice. I'm trying to be better with exfoliating.

Good to know you are having good results, and that the areas are reacting differently.

Anonymous said...

hey mista - i left a lengthy comment by the name of anonymous in one of your earlier posts - i left it a few hours ago today actually.

anyway, i didn't realize there was such a recent follow up.

i know 3 people who have had laser, one on their lip and chin (a very extreme amount of hair on lip and chin, she is most similar to me out of the 3), the other underarms, and the other thighs. none of them went for 10 times. one girl went 5 times and the rest went 6. i'm scheduled for 6. i can't believe they've had to give you 10 treatments! i don't think I've read that could be needed anywhere yet, but i'm just a civilian so who knows.

that being said, the whole laser hair removal thing isn't "permanent removal" - according to the fda, it's a "permanent reduction" in hair. and i can't remember the percentage they guarantee but it's not 100 percent (possibly 85%). even with that, i'm thinking you still should have had much better results. i hope that after this one it all goes through and you are hair-free. when i talk to the one girl i know who had her lip and chin done (she went to a laser center with technicians, not drs, but it was not american laser) she said it took her full 6 treatments for everything to have gone away. every now and then she gets a stray hair but it is NOTHING like before. but when she says how much it cost her, i am like oh man i could have gotten it a little cheaper, but she too had very bad customer service! when she was asking questions about the machines as the technicians were giving her conflicting information, they became very confrontational about it! and basically treated her like she was an idiot. so for the higher price i paid, i'm more at ease with the doctor who is doing it and who has been very helpful with my questions. let us know how it works out!!!

Mista said...

Hi Latest Anonymous!
Thanks for your comments on Appointment #6, and for your followup on this appointment. I am the first to admit that I did not research 1. the procedure and 2. the company performing the procedure. So, I feel lucky at this moment, god forbid anything should happen later.

While I didn't realize that laser was not 100% permanent removal (I've since been learning this), there is too much activity on my thighs. Bikini looks fine, like it's 'taking.' But the thighs. I have not posted a followup yet to this post (as of 4/20/08), but even though the follicles are still active, the hair seems to stop growing, or grows super slowly.

Your experience with your doctor sounds great. I would trade the confidence for the price for the next time. It is also good to know you are doing your chin and facial area. I've been considering that as well, as it really does affect your self image! Great to know it is working. Thanks for reading, and keep us posted yourself!

Anonymous said...

Mista,

I was there. 17 treatments with American Laser Centers, double passes, 5 weeks apart, 2.5 years, both Amerilight and Amerilase lasers, highest settings up to 50, assurances that fine hair was in their "protocol" and no results in areas with fine pigmented hair. Where the hair is course, the results are better. Technicians are nice, but, look like deer in headlights when you pose any questions or concerns. "Medical" does not exist. Misrepresentation and fraud are two words that come to mind.

Mista said...

Hi Anonymous from 4/25/08:

Thanks for your candidness. Very to the point. 17. Please no.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mista,

I'm in CA, and tonight I started looking around to see if anyone else was having problems with ALC, and, boy, this has been one depressing night. My guarantee ends September '09, I've lost track of how many treatments I've had, and currently I only have about 40% hair reduction on my shins, 80% on feet and toes, and maybe 40% on underarms. The pain from the laser has been the same each time. They've only taken one picture this whole time.

I haven't complained, yet (but I plan to tomorrow... or this morning now), but the staff has been really nice to me. Two of the technicians have been concerned that the hair is not as sparse as it should be by now. I'm pretty sure I've only been subjected to one laser.

Anywho, it states clearly on my contract "No refunds", which is fine if they give me unlimited treatments since their guarantee says that if there is any hair growth in the treated area within two years from the sixth treatment, "feel free to make an appointment ... to remove the unwanted hair." Well the unwanted hair is not gone, so I'm pretty sure I'd have a good case if it were to go that far.

I hope everyone who is dissatisfied gets help. On complaintsboard.com, a guy named Allen (maybe PR for ALC) has been posting under all the complaints that ALC has a new owner, so I'm hopeful because the last one apparently wasn't making its customers happy.

Mista said...

Hey most recent anonymous,
Yes, I've heard of this new owner. One of the technicians told me about it. The only difference I have seen is that a random person called me to confirm my appointment. I had completely forgotten about it, I asked if I could reschedule, and she told me I had to call back. That tells me she was a random call center type person.

Are they doing the "double pass" on you, where they go over everything twice? They finally did it on me, for my 11th appointment, and it may have been more effective. I only wish they had been doing this the whole time. :)

Good luck!!

Anonymous said...

They say they're doing it (and it's been for a few sessions now) but I'm in too much pain to keep track. D:

Melanie said...

Wow! What a detailed account! Thanks so much for that! I just got the call about winning the 3rd place $300 certificate. Even though I knew that was a farce, I wanted to know how much more money and time to expect them to want. You surely answered that question. Someone else can have my certificate!

Anonymous said...

I just started with the American Laser Center. And the consultant had guaranteed the destruction of the hair on the treated areas (no matter what color your skin is and the color of the hair). This lead me to believe 100% removal. Scary that it is not the case according to all the reviews.
My first session in April08 (broken up into 3 appts since they did not schedule my appts correctly - though really nice people) was set at a low setting since I was freaking out over the constant pinching. And there was no double-pass. However, I did notice that that my hair is not growing as fast and that patches of hair are not in certain areas.
Curious to know, although the hair is not 100% completely gone for you - the sections were the hair is gone, has it come back? Has it permanently been destructed?

Mista said...

I'm sorry about the pain for you both!

As for the most recent anonymous, to answer about whether the hair comes back if it was once gone in a patchy part: I will have to check. The only thing that really does seem like it's gone is my love trail. Maybe about 5 little guys left. My bikini had a surprising amount left when I let it grow, but did so very slowly. I have no idea about my thighs, because I can't see the follicles that well.

My office has told me that the skin color does matter. They tell me light skin, dark hair is the best combo.

I hope you see a reduction! I'll have to see if in 5 years the hair is really gone. :) By then, hopefully my hormone levels won't add hair.

Stefany said...

Oh gosh! I really wish I read your blog before! I just bought a package about 1 month ago at American Laser Center. The numbing creme is great to know about. I only had one treatment so far and I could only handle 20 on the machine! The office manager said at that rate I would have to keep coming back and I even took a vikidin before I went. I am getting brazilian bikini done. After I bought the package, i called completely bare and was surprised to find out that their price for brazilian was a lot cheaper...don't know why...I felt I got a good deal at ALC, but now after reading all these reviews I don't know...One of my friends has had a bad experience with them as well, I believe she is on her 12th appt or so. I wonder what machines other companies are using that are more effective? They told me when I was there that they keep "advancing with technology", buying new machines. Now they have the machine with air...
I guess I will wait and see what happens with me.

Anonymous said...

American Laser hair removal does not stand behind there product. I to have done 10 sessions and have had minimal results. This summer will mark a year that i have been trying to get a refund ( no such luck) i am lucky if i get a phone call back from them. Ladies dont do it save your money !!!!!

laser hair removal new york city said...

When they did the double pass, can you tell me what laser they used? My ALC claims that they can only do a double pass with the laser that doesn't hurt & not the "new laser". I'd be waiting for your response! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mista,

I just got off the phone with American Laser Center and searched your blog.

I have gone there for OVER two years 2 1/2 with not only inconsistent treatments on their part (every technician seemed to have a different explanation as to a) why it hadn't worked yet, b) what treatment they were going to do). I was doing it for my upper lip and chin which takes LESS than 10 minutes in and out of the office. They were going to charge me $75 for a cancellation fee. UNBELIEVABLE!

On principal I terminated my relationship with them. I HAD ZERO RESULTS IN OVER 2.5 YEARS. And I have left their offices not only overhearing others state the same complaint but I have since read online their tactics related to making appointments inconvenient and making extra money with cancellation fees.

I THINK THEY ARE A SCAM. Their methods by each technician is inconsistent, I have never had them use the same method twice - sometimes gel, sometimes a cooling air machine, sometimes I must remind them I need dark glasses to cover my eyes. These people are a USED CAR SALES BUSINESS and a fraud.