My progress with electrolysis
I have seen a considerable reduction in re-growth after having 15 hours of treatments, you can see above that my hair is fairly blonde/red so laser hair removal was not really an option for me. I plan to continue treatment until my re-growth is nonexistent or takes weeks to become noticeable. It is a long painful process but it is the only way I am going to get rid of this facial hair. I will update this again after a few more hours of treatment to see how things are going.
Below is some information for those of you who are new to electrolysis.
Introduction To Electrolysis
Electrolysis is arguably one of the only permanent forms of hair removal. For the MtF Transgender individual, the removal of facial hair is often a time consuming and necessary part of transitioning. No one wants to be the girl with 5’o clock shadow!
There are several different forms of electrolysis but the basic mechanic behind it is that a small needle-like probe is inserted into the hair follicle along the hair shaft, and then an electrical charge is delivered to the base of the hair creating heat and destroying the cells that create and promote hair growth. The hair is then plucked out. It takes roughly 2-5 seconds to treat each hair, pluck it, and then move onto the next.
Treatment of each hair It will take multiple treatments to fully prevent re-growth. Another thing to note is that hair grows in three phases:
Anagen – The growth phase
Catagen – The transitional phase
Telogen – The resting phase
Treatment is most effective during the Anagen phases and there is no way of predicting what hair is in which phase so re-treatment will be necessary. Complete removal of a full bear is said to take anywhere from 100 hours of treatment to well over 300, so be prepared to be spending a lot of time on the table!
Laser hair removal is also a fairly reliable form of hair removal and it definitely can be a lot faster but it’s effectiveness on light hair is questionable so I will be focusing on electrolysis as this is my chosen method of hair removal. I will however document my experience with laser when I get my underarm hair treated.
Electrolysis can be a long and costly expense. Depending on the region and the particular electrologist, you can expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $100 an hour (maybe more/maybe less). Taking into account that it can take 100-300 hours to remove a beard, at the least you should expect to spend around $5,000-$15,000. Some will spend a lot more, some may even spend less, there are so many variables that it is impossible to give an accurate estimate.
Choosing an Electrologist
It is important to find a knowledgeable electrologist with enough experience not to mess up your face. If they don’t know what they are doing there is a risk of pitting and scarring that you do not want on your face! The internet is a valuable resource for finding people and clinics in your area but make sure to evaluate their knowledgeability and experience by having a consult. Most places will offer a free 30 minute consult so you can get to know the electrologist and maybe even see what it feels like.
I found my electrologist online through a site called the Massachusetts Association of Electrologists (MAE). I basically went down the list of local electrologists and sent emails to the ones I would be willing to drive to. One of the first to respond was June, from the Advanced Electrology and Skin Care Center in Newburyport, MA. I heard from a few others but she had the best prices and seemed like she had a lot of experience.
The MAE is an affiliate of the American Electrology Association.
Their website has plenty of information on electrolysis and offers a search feature to find a registered electrologist anywhere in the US.
Pain: For me the pain is tolerable and not too bad. It hurts about the same as plucking a hair except it is more of a burning/stinging sensation. Some of the more painful areas feel similar to getting a shot of Novocain. The area will be sore and there may be some swelling for the first 24 hours or so after treatment.
As a general rule of thumb the further away you get from the center of your chin, the more it will hurt.
Aftercare: It is important not to touch the treated area because your hands can transfer bacteria into the wounds and cause an infection.
DO NOT pick off any scabs or else you can cause unnecessary scarring. Avoid direct sunlight as your skin will be extra sensitive.
Ice can be used to treat swelling and Neosporin is good to keep the area clean and moist. If you get any pustules(pimples) you can make a epsom salt solution (1 tbsp epsom salt/1 quart water) and use a rag to hold it on the area for 2-3 minutes, repeating up to 2-3 times. You can also soak your chin in a small cup/bowl of the solution for the same amount of time.
Witch Hazel: reduces redness