I have had two types of laser hair removal: Brows done with an Nd:Yag laser (I'm not sure which brand) and legs, bikini and underarms done with a diode laser (Cutera Lightsheer). I have very fair caucasian skin with naturally dark hair. I went for aprrox 12 treatments on the brows spaced 1 month apart and had partial success. Initially she told me I could continue to pluck my brows - which I did, and I think this might be why I didn't have such a good result. I found it to be very painful - even with ice and numbing cream and OTC pain meds. I think this is partially because the face is a delicate area but I have also read that certain lasers are more painful than others. I had a bit of reddening of the skin after each treatment but no major problems with the first laser operator they had at the salon. I eventually stopped going to the salon because they changed laser operators and the new lady burned my skin twice, so I didn't feel comfortable going back. Now - approx 1 yr after the last treatment the treated areas are still much sparser than they were. I am planning to find another salon to finish off the area. I paid ZAR 250 per treatment, which is about $32.
I have been for 5 treatments so far to the underarms, bikini and legs with the Lightsheer and have had very good results. It is much less painful than the laser I had on the face. I do take some OTC pain meds before I go but she told me she has the machine on a very high setting (I am very fair skinned) and it is bearable. I only use ice on the bikini area during the treatment. The machine kind of sucks your skin into the handpiece before giving the zap and so you feel the sucking sensation which kind of distracts you from the burning feeling. It sounds odd but it is actually effective at reducing pain. One thing I have noticed is that the machine has variable levels of suction - one day when it was very sore I realised she had it on high suction - so if you go to a salon that uses this machine just check what setting they have the suction on if you find it painful. It also has a large spot size, which is great for doing large areas in minimal time and with minimal pain, they don't have to zap each hair individually. I haven't had any reddening or burns of the skin after the treatment, it just feels a little itchy. This has been very effective at removing hair - after 5 treatments my underarms and bikini are are pretty much done, the legs are still a little patchy but they did warn me that legs usually take longer. I paid ZAR 1800 (about $240) per treatment. After the next treatment I think I'll only need to do legs, which will be a bit cheaper.