Friday, August 30, 2013

Laser Hair Removal: Take Two

This post has been in the editing box for a long time.  It's the second part of my experiences and research with laser hair removal in Korea.  Click here for Part 1.

I almost can't believe I've subjected myself to such extremes, but after not getting the results I'd hoped for at S Deul, I started going to a different place called NOVA Clinic in Gangnam before I had to head back to the States.  Read ahead for all the details!

The Setup

NOVA is located right at Gangnam station.  Literally, just outside exit #12.
Here's their contact stuffs.

2fl, A-Tower, 822-1 Yeoksam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, South Korea (135-933)
Phone Number: 02-563-7977  Fax Number: 02-563-5878
English Website

For the record, I recommend not using their website to make an appointment.  I tried that and never heard back from them.  What I did do was have a Korea co-worker of mine set up a time when I could go in for a consultation.  Then I just took the subway and walked up to the place all by myself like a grown up.

I saw Dr. In Joon Lee, the main doctor at the tim.  I told him of my previous experience at S Deul, and that I would like to squeeze in as many sessions as I could while I was still in Korea.  The handy thing about this particular clinic is that you pay per session as opposed to buying 5 sessions all at once (like most clinics).  The doctor told me I could do 2-3 and also that the sessions should cost less because I probably didn't have much hair to shoot thanks to my previous sessions.

The doctor was friendly, and so was his staff, but when I got to the room where I would be receiving the treatment, I was struck with how sterile it felt.  There was no gentle music or comforting touches in the decor.  The walls and cabinets were tan, and there was only a large fabric curtain separating my are from the next patient's area.  This became particular disconcerting when my body was being prepared for the laser.
The Session

All throughout this session, assistants would be scurrying back and forth between the gap in the separation curtain.  One came in and placed what felt like frozen water balloons under my armpits to numb them.  Another came in, removed the shorts I'd been provided, and applied a numbing cream to my bikini area then covered me with a towel.  After waiting a while, Dr. In came in and lasered my underarms.  My previous technician at S-Deul had been a female, a pretty and nice lady, and it felt little awkward to have this man hanging around my armpits, but the experience was over quickly.  I was also quite relieved when a female assistant came to laser my legs and bikini.

After my session was finished, Dr. In returned and asked how the laser felt.  Let me tell you.  It HURT.  When I was being prepared, I thought, "They're putting ice against my skin?  Girl, I've done this before, and it's not that bad."  I was wrong.  I was so wrong.

The laser at NOVA is called the Gentle Beam laser (long pulsed Nd-Yag).  Instead of being smoothed over my gelled skin like a sonogram machine, this laser is shot at my skin one point by one point.  It's held away from my skin and shoots out a burst of air along with its violet laser.  It burns the hair on contact.  And. It. Hurts.

(Quite recently, NOVA got their newest laser called a Gentlemax laser, a long pulsed alexandrite + Nd-Yag laser, which I didn't try.)


I told Dr. In, "It hurts a lot, the other laser at S Duel was different."
He said, "I think our laser is better."
I sure hope he's right.
Of course, after just a few minutes and usually after just a few seconds, you can't feel the pain at all.  But can you believe this?  I had small bruises on the skin on my underarms, and for weeks after!  I guess the skin there is just very tender and sensitive.  I'm sure there will be no real lasting effects (except getting rid of the hair).

I completed my second session with NOVA last November (2012).  The results I'd seen by then looked promising, but I wanted reserved my judgement until later.  Well, now it's later!  It's been almost a year since visiting S-Deul and NOVA, and here's what I got!

Underarms: Worth it!

I'm pretty pleased with how my underarms look now.  I'd say 80% of the hair is gone now.  Right after the treatments, they looked hairless, but after some time, the dormant follicles showed me the ones the lasers missed. My underarms aren't hair-free, but they're not the embarrassing darkness I had before.  Last year, during my laser treatments, I could got two days without feeling like I'd have to shave.  Now, I shave during each shower, but it's not the end of the world if I miss a day.  The hair is still dark and coarse, but it's much more sparse, and of course those bruises went away quickly.

Bikini: Worth it!

This was one of the areas the hurt pretty badly, but only once did I shout out.  That was at S-Deul when the technician went too far toward the back.  At NOVA, the technician put a numbing cream on the skin before lasering, and it wasn't too bad.  It hurt, yeah, but it wasn't the end of the world, the pain left quickly, and it was definitely worth the results.

I went for a bikini wax a few weeks ago, my first one, and the lady there was surprised that I'd never had a wax before because it looked like I'd been getting them for years.  I still have strays, but tweezers and razors can take care of those easily.  I'm really, really glad that I decided to go ahead with getting my bikini area lasered.  With 95% of the original hair gone, the difference makes me feel much more confident and clean.

Upper Lip: Can't tell

It's been a year since having treatments, and I don't have any of the darkest coarsest hairs I used to have, so I think it worked, but there are still finer, lighter hairs still.  I can deal with them, but I was just hoping to have them gone.  I'd guess there's only been a 5% change, and I wish that I had saved my time and money to have this area lasered by NOVA instead of S-Deul.  I think the results would have been better.  It also would have hurt like hell, though.

Upper Legs: Not worth it

My thighs look and feel no different, as far as I can tell.  I should have been more discerning when considering the hair that was being treated.

Lower Legs: Sort of worth it

Now my lower legs don't get the super dark, super coarse hair, which I appreciate a lot.  I'm just surprised, especially after having treatments done at S-Deul before, that more hair hasn't been removed.  I'd say 20-25% of the hair was removed.  It is a bit fairer and less noticeable, but not what I'd hoped for.


  1. I love laser hair removal. I'm a huge fan! I shave my undearms maybe once a month and my legs maybe once every two weeks, it's so good! I've tried a bunch of different styles and have had a bad reaction to some of them (extreme blistery burns to welts that lasted all months) but if you make sure you go to a place where they really know what they're doing then I highly recommend it :)

    x Jasmine

    1. Wow, awesome! I don't know what the prices are in Australia, but do you find the price to be worth it?

    2. I do, even though it's pretty darn expensive. Every time I shave I get a rash because I'm allergic to nickel and there are nickels in our shavers. I also get ingrowns a lot, so the joy of not having to be super itchy and blotchy and not having so many ingrown hairs is bliss!

    3. Oh, no wonder it's worth it! Wow, I'm glad you have the alternative of lasering, because all that shaving trouble sounds miserable.

    4. Thanks Lindsay for giving us an heads-up on laser hair removal. all i heared is that they offer permanent cure and i assumed that once the course is complete there will be no hair till i die :) from your article i understand that there will still be left outs which we need to work around every now and then. is this everything or do we have any new techno;ogies as promised that they remove it permanently and there will be no trace of it forever ?

      i throughly happy with the articles that you have written, they give a very clear picture of how a treatment would be, i vould even feel the pain when you said
      "I thought, "They're putting ice against my skin? Girl, I've done this before, and it's not that bad." I was wrong. I was so wrong."

      thanks once again. i eagerly waiting for your reply :)

    5. Hey Nadya, I haven't done new research since 2012, but from what I know, it would take a lot of sessions to remove all of the hair, and then hair may grow back later. I don't think a permanent option is possible, but if you are able to get many sessions, I think you would be very pleased with the results.

  2. Hi Lindsay !
    May I ask you the price for a session for the bikini area with NOVA ?
    I'm actually staying in Seoul for a few months and I'd like to try them out, thanks to your review !!
    Thanks a lot.

    1. I'm sorry Karine, but I can't remember. I do know that I paid per session, not for all my sessions in a group.

  3. Laser hair removal is a treatment that uses lasers to target the roots of hair underneath the skin's surface.



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