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Hair Removal Techniques

Permanent Hair Removal by Electrolysis

Of all the methods of permanent hair removal, electrolysis is the oldest and most widely available. In essence, what happens when you get electrolysis is a slow, steady one by one descruction of your hair folicles. Sound painful? It can be, but it can also be very effective.

An electrolysist will clean your skin and then, using a magnifying glass, will insert a small needle into a hair folicle. Electricity is then sent down the needle into the root of the hair, zapping it to prevent further growth. The hair is then removed and the electrolysist moves to then next folicle.

Naturally removing hair one by one has certain disadvantages when compared to Intense Pulsed Light or IPL Hair Removal:

  • Each hair is treated individually which means that an hour of treatment still covers only a relatively small area

  • Having had a hair folicle treated is not a guarantee of permanent removal of the hair. It will need to be caught in a growth phase for the treatment to be effective and the needle needs to be skillfully placed at the right depth for the electric charge to hit the hair root

  • Electrolysis is moderately painful as you are receiving a shot of electricity into your skin and certain areas, like the moustache, are especially sensitive and eye watering

  • There is a risk of scarring if an area is treated too aggressively and you may get small cuts if the needle is inserted improperly

On the flip side of that, there are some clear advantages to chosing electrolysis as your method of permanent hair removal:

  • Of all the permanent methods of hair removal, electrolysis has the longest track record

  • All permanent hair removal methods are prone to some level of regrowth and electrolysis is said to have one of the lowest rates of this, particularly when compared to Laser Hair Removal

  • Electrolysis sessions are relatively cheap compared to other hair removal treatments and some places will also give transexuals discounts since you'll most likely be needing a lot of it! If your budget can spare £30 to £40 a month you can get started. While IPL and Laser typically cover a larger area per treatment, they also require a larger purchase, so Electrolysis can be an affordable way of "getting on your way"

  • Electrolysis is good for removing hairs which have become curved or distorted - this sometimes happens to hairs that have previously been plucked or removed and makes it very difficult for treatments that follow the hair to deliver an effective treatment to the follicular tissue

  • Electrolysis can also treat all colours of hair and skin type

There are several different ways of getting electrolysis and the cheapest and without a doubt the least useful for transexuals is the home electrolysis kit. I first started with one of these electrolysis kits many years ago only to realise that they are really designed for removing the "peach fuzz" type of hair genetic women have. The higher levels of testosterone in a transexual's body, combined with the very low charge these kits deliver make them, in my opinion, about as useful as an underwater hair dryer.

Salons provide one of several forms of electrolysis:

  • Normal or galvanic electrolysis, which is the slowest form of electrolysis, yet one the most effective on all types of hair

  • Slow thermolysis, which is quite rare and cauterises the hair folicle rather than by electrodessication (also known as zapping it if you want to those uneducated in electrolysis like me!)

  • Flash themolysis which is a very fast method

  • Blend electrolysis which is the latest and most comfortable, and gets it's name from being a combination of electrolysis and thermolysis technology

When you first book, many salons will openly tell you that treatment is going to take a long time. Quite rightly so. It's true. Unless you are taking anti-androgens or can regulate your diet to inhibit your testosterone levels, male hair is notoriously difficult to kill off and to remove a beard fully will require commitment. It can take between 2 and 4 years of treatment to completely remove it permanently, though the hair gets softer and sparser throughout treatment and later in to your electrolysis you will not need to attend at the same frequency.

A further gripe with electrolysis is that estetician standards do vary widely in Europe and North America, the very homelands of standardisation. I the US for examplew only just over half of the States have standards relating to training, so when chosing an electrolysist, do shop around and ask about their background. Many will have experience of dealing with trangendered patients and take it as no big deal.

My electrolysist while I lived in Vancouver was Marie Ruiz. Marie had several transexual clients and shared an office space with a counsellor who dealt with gender identity issues and hormone perscription. The whole time I saw her was pleasant and she not only made me feel very at home, she also gave me a very good price for bulk booking and helped me mend a tight skirt that tried to kill me one day as I ran down the stairs... much to it's own trouble! Marie is Spanish and has been practicing for over 15 years having qualified in Europe. If you are out that way and looking for a transexual friendly electrolysist in Vancouver, give her a call (604-733-5523) and tell her that Danielle, the transexual she used to treat from the UK sent you, and I'm sure she'll look after you well.

The best thing about electrolysis without a doubt is that it is permanent, even though it is slow. I have heard stories from people who've had laser hair removal that after 3 or 4 years it started to grow back; whether or not that's true is a hotly debated subject with many salons claiming that this was new hair growth. With electrolysis you can expect regrowth rate to be very low, about 7-10% of patients complain of it. Electrolysis also allows you to accurately treat areas where pinpoint precision is needed such as the T-zone and eyebrows.

On a slightly more tender note, some Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS) doctors ask for the skin of the scrotum to be hairless, especially in less well endowed girls so that they have enough skin to work with to construct the vagina. If this is the case, electrolysis may be the best option no matter how much you hate those balls...

OK, those of you not intending to transition fully can stop crying now!

If you are planning to transition, start as early as you possibly can as it can take several years. Yes, it hurts a little and yes, you will be red and blotchy after, but being hair free is the single biggest factor in gaining passability and with it's long history it compares favourably with newer techniques in that it definately does work for most people who persist. It's a well known fact that going full time before having cleared at least your face can adversely affect your work, social life and mental well being. Personally I see it as ground work that anyone who wants to live as woman or spend long periods in drag will be well advised to address first. Concentrate your budget on this initially to get it sorted and worry about the rest later.

You can also read till your eyes go square about electrolysis for transexuals on TSRoadmap, an American website aimed at helping those who want to transition. Whether you do or you just want to find out more about electrolysis, there's no doubt that it is very comprehensive.

Electrolysis is a great way to tidy up certain areas and it's so cheap that anyone can afford to get started on an appointment or two a month which will make you feel like you are on your way to achieving the look you want. It is the only hair removal technique that will definately work for all as other hair removal techniques are better suited to certain skin and hair types.

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