Electrolysis – The long journey

I have loathed shaving for many years. It has been an irritation in my life that made me try a few ways to slow down growth – without success! A client made a comment one day that came as a surprise, “I bet it doesn’t take you long to grow a full beard?” That should give you an idea of how prominent my dark brown facial hair is, even after shaving.

By the time I could be myself, some of my facial hair had started turning grey. Most of it was still dark brown or looked almost black to me. I would shave twice a day at least, especially before going out. Occasionally, I would leave the growth for a day or two, so when planning to go out, I could eliminate the traces most effectively, the longer hair was always cut so close to the skin that it was barely noticeable. Well, for a few hours at least.

Even after obtaining the closest of wet shaves, the follicles of each hair would raise the skin slightly, enough that I knew my skin wasn’t smooth. I learned that using a face powder with foundation helped, but I never liked a heavy-handed approach to makeup. Nothing yet was satisfactory.

Koala Swim

I admit I plucked hairs from my face to alleviate my anxiety. Sadly, it was only ever a temporary solution. A bearable pain that gave me some hours of relief and confidence when I needed it.

Approximately four to five years ago, I began seeking permanent ways of removing facial hair. My first low-budget approach was to purchase a hand-held laser gun. When I say low budget, it was about half of my modest monthly income, so very costly at that point. I cannot say that it worked effectively other than making my skin red from the heat and making me spend more on a replacement lamp of a limited lifetime usage.

After extensive research, in 2018, I found a clinic that offered laser treatment and booked an appointment with the doctor to decide if it would be viable to embark on treatment. A journey of one hour and thirty minutes by car. A €60 session that would take about 15-20 minutes maximum. I was so desperate to resolve this issue; I was already living my life as the real me. It all went well for several monthly sessions until one time the laser stung my face as it fired on the side of my neck. He adjusted the settings, but it still hurt, and it forced our session to stop.

With my face and neck feeling like I had sunburn, on arriving home and looking in the bathroom mirror, I was shocked at seeing clear burn marks on both sides of my neck at the spots where the pain was most severe. The response from the doctor was of concern. He sent a prescription by email for treatments from the pharmacy. The following day, he and his assistant drove to my house to examine the burns and gave me further specialist creams to apply.

Although his gesture was welcomed, I still consider myself a victim of either malfunctioning equipment or a lack of skill and knowledge on his part. Responses to my questions made me feel as if I would never get to the root of the problem. I chose never to return. Treatments had reduced beard growth, but a considerable amount yet remained. Additionally, some grew back. This was proving to be a serious learning curve!

It took some time to find an alternative. I was under a medical scheme that would cover the costs of further treatment. I also discovered that laser treatment was ineffective on grey or white. It had to be electrolysis or nothing.

Further research revealed that there were no clinics within easy access from where I lived. The options were: Toulouse, a five-hour-plus trip each way by car. No trains could get me there and back in a day to allow a two-hour session. Paris, where I could get a train there and back in a day. I didn’t have much luck getting through to the clinic in Paris and called the one in Toulouse. I made an appointment. It was to establish an understanding prior to treatment.

The doctor was touched by the time and distance I travelled to see him that he arranged a session that very afternoon. I was slightly apprehensive as I prepared myself for an electronic needle to be repeatedly stuck in my face, while tweezers pulled out each hair. They offered me a local anaesthetic, but I declined until I knew if it was necessary. There was some discomfort, but it was bearable — with the satisfaction and knowledge that I was being treated.

The following day there was a little swelling and some scabbing, but nothing too bad. However, the trip to and from the clinic was exhausting to ponder returning for another treatment.

The next stop was Paris. I eventually got through to make an appointment and received treatment a couple of months later. The doctor begin on my top lip, only this time I accepted the local anaesthetic. She worked with an impressive focus and speed. My lip was very swollen the following day, taking a few days to return to normal. On the plus side, there was next to no scabbing, so that was a great outcome.

It became a monthly visit to Paris for the two-hour sessions. Leaving home around 9 am and returning home just before 10 pm, it was a tiring day all around. No time for sightseeing or a delightful meal. Simply hop on the train, get to the clinic, hop on the train, and get home.

Things were going well, and treatments were scheduled for every three months and were showing a visible improvement. Then the lockdown hit us, and life seemed to grind to a halt. Only recently has it been possible for me to travel to Paris again. My treatment will continue from May 21st. I have the added plus of being on HRT, which also is helping to slow down beard growth. Given time, it may even eliminate it all together. Today, time is precious to me. Who knows what awaits us in our future? And it’s why I am grabbing the chance to resolve this forever.

I share this personal account with the intention that it may be of some value to you and others. I will happily respond to any questions or comments.

 

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6 Comments
  1. ' class='avatar avatar-100 photo' height='100' width='100' />
    LilacsandRoses 3 weeks ago

    Back in the early 70s when I began my transition I went to school to perform electrolysis. This was when it was still a relatively new procedure and I worked in the field for some time. I wasn’t able to work on myself; it’s pretty hard to manage the tools and work your own face.

    I had a heavy beard and I had tried so desperately to please family members with masculinity that I grew the heavy “pork chop” sideburns that were in style at that time. I hated it but it made others happy and it was so important to me to please everyone but myself at that time in my life. Sad how we will sacrifice ourselves to earn the approval of others. After a few years on hormones my doctor was concerned about the dangerous effects of HRT long term (back then there were so many unknowns and if a doctor would treat us they were very uneasy about it) that he recommended I undergo an orchiectomy to at least reduce estrogen dosage. I had it done and it wasn’t long before my beard began to disappear and smooth skin left in its place. I never had to pursue any other hair removal process as it all just disappeared. I stopped HRT at that point (about 1978) and have not taken them since. When I saw Dr. Meltzer for revision surgery 4 years ago I asked him if I needed to be taking anything and his response was that at this stage it would do me more harm than good to go back to hormones so I take nothing. I have the occasional stray facial hairs that most women my age experience but it’s easily plucked and I have no issues with beard that I had in the beginning. To those dealing with facial hair do not despair because it will lessen and eventually go away in time.

  2. ' class='avatar avatar-100 photo' height='100' width='100' />
    JAKe Hatmacher 3 weeks ago

    I’ve been having facial, and that includes neck, almost weekly since June of 2021. I then also started it in my genital region in prep for GRS. I still have quite a bit to remove, more so on my face, but I’m hoping to have it all complete by this fall (2022) when I’m thinking I should be eligible for GRS since I will have been on estrogen for a year by then. My sessions last 45 minutes. I could tolerate more but my wallet is happier with shorter sessions which cost $60 and $75 respectively for the facial and genital electrolysis. Over time, the cost can add up significantly as you know, but as with many of you there is really no other recourse for someone with mostly gray hair. Oh, I do use a lidocaine gel on my bottom, but only use the gel on my upper and lower lip on my face. The lip areas are so sensitive even with the anesthetic that my eyes tear while it’s being done. Since I’m careful not to cause infection after the facial treatments, I generally don’t shave for 24 hours, and often 48 hours to let everything settle down. Doing that often causes a problem when I have something planned where I would go out in female form because I wish to be without hair on my face when I do that. COVID has actually been advantageous for me in that respect because I can wear a mask on my unshaven days of healing.

  3. ' class='avatar avatar-100 photo' height='100' width='100' />
    Alex Louise 3 weeks ago

    Great and honest article Sophie, The thing we all want rid of from the outset…probably the hardest thing to achieve. Did you try all those Miracle beard removal creams? Don’t work do they any of them; not a single hair removed. I did the same as you, home IPL hand laser, then salon IPL laser, then electrolysis…agony and it costs a fortune (and grew back!) I’m down for laser now…and yes it stings.
    For now I have relegated it down the list of priorities. Hey no-one gets that close anyway who doesn’t know I’m trans. Yes on HRT it does thin itself, I can go without a shave for 2days and you can’t see it. My sideburn hair has disappeared too? Comforting to know it wasn’t just my bad experience. Sad it is such a hard thing to get rid of though.

  4. ' class='avatar avatar-100 photo' height='100' width='100' />
    Tia Tracy 3 weeks ago

    Giggling Hysterically.!.! Did say I WAS a baby Hun?.?. I Should have told the truth in that I’m a BIG baby Sophie. THERE I said it… And also if any other girls are they have the info to proceed comfortably… Huggz Tia

  5. ' class='avatar avatar-100 photo' height='100' width='100' />
    Tia Tracy 3 weeks ago

    Thankz for the candid article Sophi, When I had my electro done for my GRS (pre-requisite) lower, I found a small godsend. I must admit I am a baby when it comes to pain so my G/P prescribed me a cream that had 5% Prilocaine / 5% Lidocaine in it. After rubbing it on 30 minutes before-hand my 1 hour sessions were so great I almost went to sleep. Thankz again Hun

    • ' class='avatar avatar-100 photo' height='100' width='100' /> Author
      SophieFR 3 weeks ago

      Dear Tia,
      Thank you for your comment and that you have read my article, It is greatly appreciated.
      I could have added in the article that during the last session without anaesthetic, I did actually fall asleep. I hadn’t even been aware, it was the doctor who suggested that I had. I just hope I never slipped into snoring!!
      Love and hugs
      Sophie

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