How Much Does It Hurt?


How much does it hurt?


 Following on from the myths of the previous blog, here’s how some of my clients have described the sensation of photo-dynamic laser treatment in the past.

Let’s get it out of the way first (and then I don’t have to think about it anymore).  The old hackneyed favourite, clichéd by the internet, “It’s like having an elastic band flicked against your skin”. No, no, no, no, no, it’s nothing like having an elastic band flicked against your skin. it’s a stock phrase said by people who can’t remember what it’s like to be at school and be flicked by an elastic band. Elastic band-flicking is unbearably disgustingly painful - it leaves a throbbing welt on your skin the size of a small country and sends shock waves through your body that could register on a Geiger counter! It’s not that.

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Look at what happened to this poor little chap when he got flicked in the eye with an elastic band. Doesn’t that look painful?!

Here's the full story.





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“It’s like a hot fat spatter when you’re frying chips” Now, this one is good. I like this one and say it myself. The laser beam is dispensed to the skin in a nano-second, that’s one billionth of a second. A tiny square of light measuring between 2 and 5 square mm disappears into the skin so fast that you wouldn’t have time to even think of the word “chips” before it’s all over. There’s no throbbing welt afterwards and no shock waves careering across your skin and down both legs, making your stomach churn.

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“It’s like an electric shock” This is another internet term, again, I’m sure from people with short memories or people who have just imagined what an electric shock is like without ever having had one. The trouble is, our imaginations go straight to the “OMG it’s going kill me” idea of an electric shock. At the mild end, there’s the static shock which is a bit annoying mainly because you’re not expecting it and it happens so fast it makes you jump. This is an acceptable comparison with photo-dynamic laser treatment, because even though you know it’s coming – the first one still makes you jump and there’s no residual discomfort or after-shock with it. The other end of the scale is the high-voltage heart-stopping mains electricity shock which (were it not for the alternating current) wouldn’t only fry your chips but fry your own liver and kidneys as well. It’s definitely, not that.

“It’s like a hot pin prick” This one is good and to my mind accurate. It’s just like the hot fat spatter but a pin instead of a minute flying missile. Of course, there is no actual pin, it’s just the sensation of being pricked by one for a billionth of a second. (Can you even imagine that amount of time? I can’t, it’s too small).

And then there’s the more descriptive/obscure comparisons.

  • “I’d rather have this done than stub my toe on a table leg” You can’t argue with that.

  • “The cooling ice-pack hurts more than the treatment” This speaks volumes!

  • “I’d rather do this than go to the dentist” This is hardly a ringing endorsement but you get the idea.

  • “Pulling off a plaster hurts more than this” Said by many men on many occasions.

And perhaps, for some, the most surprising one of all

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  • “It doesn’t hurt as much as getting a tattoo”

One of the positives of having the treatment is that it lasts only a few minutes in total. Whereas getting a tattoo takes hours and hours of prolonged discomfort. With the adrenal system spending hours pumping chemicals into the body it’s no wonder most people feel totally wrecked after a long tattoo session.

If you can bear having a tattoo you can bear having photo-dynamic laser treatment and that’s all you need to know. 

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Yep, this is a close-up of 4 needles simultaneously puncturing the skin in the tattooing process.

I rest my blog.

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