“The consultation and test patch do a lot to alley those feelings and help people to understand how committed we are to solving the problem. Nickki did need extensive treatment, but I know the nature of the hair growth was perfect for our laser. I also know treatment would make a substantial improvement to Nickki’s quality of life. Her first treatment took place in Aug 01 followed by her second in Sept 01. Due to personal reasons Nickki was unable to come for the next session until April 02. Attending for regular monthly sessions is important, but despite this hiccup we were soon back on track. We immediately made excellent progress, the dark hairs responded rapidly to reveal perfectly smooth skin. At each visit the amount of hair and therefore the amount of treatment required reduced substantially. Each month I see Nickki I can see she is full of confidence. I now believe she has found the solution she never thought possible”. Chris Hart.
“Hello All, My name is Nickki, and I am a 26-year-old female. Since the age of 14 I have suffered from a condition known as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) for short. PCOS is a condition that around 20% of the female population suffer from, however the symptoms differ from woman to woman, in some woman in goes unnoticed and without causing any problems, unfortunately in my case this was not the case.
When I was first diagnosed, the effects were not that bad, I had irregular periods but nothing really major. It was when I turned 17 that all the problems began, and when I say problems, my biggest problem was one that caused me to lose all self-esteem, and all my confidence. It was excess facial hair; it came at a time when I should have been enjoying my teens, and going out and having fun. At first it was a few stray hairs here and there, probably nobody even noticed at that stage but I did, and it was horrible. But I would love to go back to that stage now knowing what I know today.
When the first hairs started appearing my GP put me on Dianette, which was supposed to be effective at reducing the hair growth, it never made any difference to me at all. Over the years the problem began to get steadily worse, when I got married at the age of 21, I had male pattern facial hair growth, as I have dark hair and fair skin it was a lot worse for me. I had to get up every morning before my husband and go into the bathroom to perform my secret ritual, which entailed shaving my face with a razor and shaving foam, before applying make-up, then I would sneak back to bed and pretend I had just woken up so that he would see me looking ‘normal’.
“When I was 24 the problem was getting worse rather than better, none of the drugs that I was on were making any difference, the hair was increasing rather than reducing, and my confidence hit an all time low. I was convinced I was not a woman, after all woman don’t have to shave each day, women don’t have 5 o clock shadow, women should be worrying what colour lipstick to wear not worrying whether their faces were stubble free. I felt I was not a woman, but knew I was not a man, so what was I? These were questions that ate away at me, the more I looked in the mirror, and the more I hated myself. I convinced myself I was a freak, what was I, I didn’t look female, I wasn’t pretty and dainty, more masculine and hairy. My confidence and self respect had never been lower, I didn’t want to go out, didn’t want to meet people, most days I didn’t even want to get out of bed, I shut myself away from everyone. I didn’t bother getting dressed after all what was the point, what did it matter if I wore nice clothes, all people would see is this thing dressed up in women’s clothes”.
I had been seeing all sorts of specialists and consultants from hospitals all across the North West and nobody was doing anything to help me. I felt I wasn’t worth bothering about, so one day I sat down and swallowed a load of sleeping pills and a cocktail of other pills. I cried as I forced each pill down my throat, I wanted to live, I didn’t really want to die, but I couldn’t live with looking in the mirror each day and hating what I saw looking back. The one thing though, is that I was not making a cry for help, I had done that in the past only nobody listened, yes my family did but they couldn’t help, it was me who had to live in my body each day, and that was what I wanted to end. To cut a long story short I ended up on a ventilator in intensive care, with discussions going on between doctors whether I would eventually need a liver transplant.
After being treated for 3 weeks I was discharged and assigned a psychiatrist. I had to see him twice a week, we sat, we talked, he diagnosed me as being clinically depressed, not once did he listen when I told him how I felt, his response was take this medication, you’ll get better. They were treating my emotional symptoms when all my emotional problems were caused by my physical ones, yet they did not think that relevant, it was simply a case of take your pills. I had a CPN who came out to see me every day, she wanted me to go out, said we would work on confidence building, again the cause was ignored, nobody listened when I said I cant go out, I was told I was paranoid, and prescribed more tablets. This situation went on for about a year, and all this time I was getting worse and worse physically, I had gone from having to get up early to shave once a day for about 10 minutes, to shaving 3 times a day for about 30 minutes each time. My skin was permanently sore, red, and itchy. I had red blotches from constant shaving and no amount of make-up would conceal the beard rash, even after all that I still had dark shadows shining through my layers of make-up.
My day had to be planned with military precision. I had to get up at the crack of dawn to use the bathroom before my husband. Even though it was obvious to everyone what I was doing, why I spent so much time in the bathroom, I never discussed it with anyone including my husband, I was always brushing my teeth or washing my hair several times a day. I was always withdrawn, and had seen myself go from a bubbly confident person into a nervous wreck, who hated seeing people. I remember once, my cousin asking myself and my husband to go on a caravaning holiday with them, everyone was planning the route, places to visit, and I was thinking where the nearest bathrooms would be, where could I go to perform my rituals. It took over my life, being late was never an option, if I had an appointment in the morning and I overslept then I had to cancel as I could never leave the house in my natural state. In short I had no life. I had bought so many home hair removal kits that my bathroom was a beauticians dream, none worked, and all were expensive! I tried waxing, plucking you name it I tried it, yet I had gone beyond everything, I had a full beard and nothing would remove it; my husband had a goatee beard yet mine was worse than his.
I remember one day when I had spent hours in the bathroom, and thought I looked relatively normal, enough to go to the local shops with my husband. We were in a supermarket when a group of children walked past staring and pointing whispering to each other is that a man or a woman they walked up and down the aisles each time managing to walk past us to get a further look. I had to get out; I left my husband in the shop and ran home. I locked myself in the bathroom and cried my heart out, I grabbed loads of pills and swallowed them, and grabbed the razors and sliced across both my wrists, I didn’t feel the pain, and I just wanted it to be over.
Again I was found and hospitalised, this time in a psychiatric ward, when asked why, I told the truth, and was told I was anxious and suffering this time from something called chronic reactive adjustment disorder, I screamed until I was blue in the face that I was not mentally ill, but I hated myself because of my appearance, again I was dismissed, I was still prescribed tablets; still seeing the CPN, still had a label of mental illness. I was looking through the Internet one day when I came across Cristianos Laser Clinic, it sounded too good to be true, and after all who could do anything for me? It took me days to get the courage to telephone, and when I finally did it was Chris Hart who answered the phone, that call literally saved my life and I’m not saying that for any publicity reasons, Chris was wonderful, she talked to for over an hour explaining how the process worked, she told me I was a perfect candidate as I had dark hair and fair skin, which was the best combination.
We arranged for me to go over to the clinic in Altrincham to have a test patch done. The next week I made the journey with my husband. I did not know what to expect, to be honest I expected a very posh impersonal private clinic, attended by beautiful immaculate ladies in white coats. However when I arrived what I found was a lovely friendly clinic, with down to earth people, nobody was insulting about my appearance, nobody said I was a freak, everyone was lovely, I was made to feel so welcome. The lady that performed the test patch explained everything to me in detail, she wrote down my medical details and answered any questions that I had and I had plenty, would it hurt, would it work, how long would it take, after answering all my questions, I was taken through to another room where I was asked to lie on a bed, similar to the ones in a doctors surgery, blue glasses were put on my eyes to protect them from the laser, and then a test patch was performed just under my chin, did it hurt? No not painful, more like a sting that lasted less than a second, it was uncomfortable but not painful. The main thing I can remember was the smell, it smelt like burnt toast, that I was told was the smell of the laser absorbing the hair.
The test patch lasted little more than a minute, and when it was over I looked in the mirror and saw a little red patch but no hair. Prior to the test patch I removed a little bit of my make-up, just enough for the patch to be done. When I left the clinic, I had made an appointment to have my full-face treated, and was going to return in about 2 weeks, I was told that it would be red for a few days, then after about 10 days there would be no hair there, then it would come back, and I would have treatment once a month to catch each stage of the hair cycle.
When I arrived home, Chris telephoned me, and explained that she had been called away and was unable to meet me that day, but she would be doing the treatment for me, we had a long chat and I put the phone down feeling a glimmer of hope for the future, although in all honesty I cant say I was expecting as much as I have. When I returned to Cristianos, I met Chris herself, she was wonderful, so genuine, so friendly and so down to earth, she asked me to take off my whole make up, which I was terrified of doing as nobody had ever seen me without make-up and with hair. The best thing about the treatment is that on the morning of treatment I could still shave, as I only had to leave a little bit of hair visible, if I had to go there with a full face of hair it would have been doubtful that I would have made it, in fact I know I wouldn’t have. After removing my make-up, Chris asked me to lift my chin and let her have a proper look, again something I have never allowed anyone top do, but I knew instantly I could trust Chris, she wouldn’t laugh, she wouldn’t mock. She was very positive, telling me that it was perfect, and she seemed genuinely pleased at my hair, I found this strange as everyone else recoiled in disgust yet here was someone who was overjoyed at it. Chris explained that it was because I had dark hair and it was coarse which was perfect. I had ice packs applied to my face, and laid back with sun goggles on, and my first full face treatment began. The laser turned on, the best way to describe the feeling is to have an elastic band snapped on the skin, discomfort for a second then nothing, uncomfortable but not painful. My sideburns were not uncomfortable, neither was under my chin or cheeks, the bit that was more uncomfortable was my upper lip, Chris explained all this before she done it so I was expecting slighter more discomfort.
Throughout my treatment I was talking and laughing with Chris who was telling me tales of her recent holiday, we were talking like old friends, but then again that is what you get when you go to Cristianos, you go as a stranger, you leave as a friend. When my treatment was completed after about 45 minutes Chris applied some soothing gel, and I put my make-up back on, there was no discomfort but my face was red, but with make-up was not as noticeable. The next day I shaved as normal, and for about 7 days after, until on about the tenth day there was hardly anything there, I scrutinised my face under mirrors, in different lights yet still nothing, I couldn’t believe it, what a difference not to have to shave, the change was remarkable. Towards the end of week 3 the hair had grown back in places as Chris had explained, but instead of having hair all over my face, I now had little bald patches, after all this time I had hope. When I went back for my next appointment Chris looked at the little patches, and cuddled me and we celebrated the little bare areas of skin.
After my second treatment more and more hair fell away and the bald patches got bigger, it was amazing, I was getting better, I still removed the hair that was still in the growing stage but now it was taking me 10 minutes once a day rather than 30 minutes 3 times a day. I have now had 3 treatments and am due to go for my 4th next week and the change is unbelievable, instead of having little bald patches, I now have little patches of hair, my cheeks are all but clear, my dark moustache has practically disappeared, and my confidence is growing by the day. Yes I still have some hair but I am still having treatment and am confident I will have my life back. Each day sees less and less hair appearing, the shadow under my makeup is all but gone, and I find myself wishing for each month to end so that I can have my next course, I have grown to love the burnt toast smell as that means more and more hair is being zapped and that I am becoming less hairier.
Without Chris Hart and Cristianos I doubt very much that I would still be here, I hated myself, I hated my life and I hated what I had become, yet thanks to Chris in 3 months I am now on my way back, my confidence is growing with each treatment, my self- esteem is growing each day, and I honestly thought I was a hopeless case. My doctors didn’t listen, the counselor didn’t listen, Chris Hart did and thanks to her, her husband Dave, and Sue the receptionist I now know that one day my biggest problem will be deciding what lipstick to wear!
Kind Regards Nickki Brown