Wednesday, August 6, 2014


I've documented my experience with laser hair removal in my post The Hair Removal Journey, and continue to blog on my ongoing journey with electrolysis.  In fact I was up north recently for my seventh full facial clearing with James Walker of Executive Electrolysis.  While I still recommend electrolysis as the most complete method of hair removal for transgender women, so many of us are having good results with laser that I would be remiss not to acknowledge that it is a viable alternative in some cases. 

With laser you need a certain skin type and hair color, namely light skin and dark hair, to have good success.  My recommendation is to find someone experienced and very reputable because there is a wide variation in quality of providers for this service.  I've found the same to be true with electrologists and that is the main reason I travel out of state for my hair removal.  I will also say that while I have talked to many who've had some degree of bad experiences, no one I have encountered has suffered the degree of skin damage I had from laser.  Luckily I was able to have that corrected with treatments at Duke hospital.

Let's focus here on the potential positives of laser hair removal.  My friend Lisa Lesher recently decided to restart her laser treatments for facial hair after a long hiatus and one full clearing with electrolysis.  In her case, laser will be a faster, less expensive alternative to at least reduce her beard shadow prior to going full time, which she is planning to do in a few months.  She chose to go to one of the highest acclaimed laser technicians that I know of, located in Raleigh North Carolina.  Since I live fairly close to Raleigh, Lisa came here to stay with me the night before her session.  The next day I rode with her and observed the procedure.

Lisa arrived before noon, unloaded her bags at my house and then we went down to my mom's home for lunch and a nice chat.  We planned to go to Raleigh that afternoon for some shopping, come back for dinner in Rocky Mount and then return to Raleigh again the next morning for her laser session.  I'm always up for some shopping and time with my BFF, so it promised to be a fun couple of days.
Lisa, me and Mama
We had a blast shopping, as we always do.  First we went to Crabtree Mall and then North Hills shopping center.  You just can't beat an afternoon of shopping with a good friend, especially in Raleigh with all of the fabulous stores.  We visited Sephora, Belk's, JC Penney and many more.  Neither of us spent too much money, adding further proof to my theory that shopping is free.  It's buying that can get expensive!!  We did each buy a few beauty products and some clothes so we at least had something to show for the experience, but nothing too extravagant.  We have to leave things on the shelves for next time!
Fun in Crabtree Mall
Trying on shorts at North Hills
Shopping in Crabtree Mall
Lisa goofing for the camera
Lisa and I decided to get a little bit dressed up and go out to dinner after we arrived back in Rocky Mount.  She had never been to Red Lobster so we decided to dine there.  It was after 8 PM when we arrived, so the restaurant was far from crowded.  We had excellent service, good food and a couple of outstanding, mucho grande margaritas.  Red Lobster calls them Grande Lobsteritas and they are worth the price of admission.  We both have to admit that the seafood there does not compare to the fresh, local seafood found at the restaurants on North Carolina's Outer Banks, where Lisa lives, but it was an enjoyable meal.  I was glad to take my best friend to a restaurant she'd always heard about but never tried.

I am going to mention this because it's relevant, but we considered stopping by Chico's, a Mexican restaurant and bar near my home, for one more margarita before calling it a night.  We didn't stop there because Lisa was concerned that after a long day some of her facial hair might be showing in the form of a 5 o'clock (or in this case 9 o'clock) shadow.  This is the exact reason that she decided to go back to laser hair removal.  Electrolysis would probably proceed more slowly for her, especially since she won't be able to consistently travel to someone who can make quick progress like James Walker. 

In the past few weeks, since the incident I just related,  Lisa reports that this problem has been greatly reduced as a result of the laser session described below.  So far this procedure is giving her very good results very quickly and she highly recommends it for dark facial hair reduction.

Lisa's is the first of the testimonials on laser hair removal at the end of this post.

Ready to head to dinner

Lisa with her Grande Lobsterita at Red Lobster
My Grande Lobsterita at Red Lobster


Friday morning Lisa and I rode up to Raleigh for her laser session.  Unlike electrolysis, you do not have to grow the hairs to a certain length in order for them to be treated.  It took the operator, Noushi, about 20 minutes to treat Lisa's entire face.  The laser pulses a red light that affects an area the size of the red circle you see in the pictures below.  The hairs (only dark colored ones) sometimes blow out of the follicle during the procedure while others shed in the ensuing days.  Like electrolysis, laser involves a series of treatments to affect each cycle of hair within each follicle.  

Laser technician Noushi performing laser hair removal on Lisa.
According to the informational website Hair Facts, the laser is intended to cause thermal and/or mechanical damage to a hair follicle while sparing surrounding tissues.  (Links to Hair Facts, Web MD's page on laser hair removal and more are found below.) 

The treatment is not pain free though different people report experiencing different levels of pain from laser.  Similar to my personal experiences with electrolysis, the operator and equipment can make a huge difference not only in the level of pain but the effectiveness of the treatment.  I know others who have been to Noushi and most consider her the best in our area.  My therapist also highly recommends her.

Lisa has some light colored hairs so she knows she will have to finish the hair removal process with electrolysis at some point, but her main goal with hair removal right now is reducing any visible hair (shadow) on her face prior to her going full time.  She says that this one treatment, combined with a few that she received a couple of years ago and a few hours of electrolysis, has made a huge difference already in the visibility of any facial hair.  This allows you to wear less makeup to cover up and removes another obstacle to passability, another roadblock if you will.

Before leaving for her laser appointment I walked in and saw that Lisa looked like herself (perfectly female) without her wig.  This was about 6 weeks ago and she has since shed the wig for a more natural look (her own hair)....:)
Lisa is coming to visit again this week and I will be going with her for the second laser session of this this round of treatments.  As I learn more about the process I will post more about it and also include updates on Lisa's progress.  Between my experience with electrolysis and now her's with laser, hopefully we can share some good information for readers considering hair removal.  However you do it, facial hair removal is a vital part of male to female gender transition.  It is a time consuming, often expensive process but well worth it when you consider the benefits of not having noticeable facial hair, and hopefully one day no facial hair at all.  The best time to start is yesterday but there is no time like the present.  If you are in transition and haven't started some form of hair removal, you will be glad you didn't put this off any longer...

Link to Noushi's site.  This is where Lisa goes for laser.

Other links for information on laser hair removal:

Real testimonials from members of our group (Trans Beauty Network) who've had laser hair removal.

"As Tammy knows I've had great success with removing the dark hairs. It took her 20 minutes to do face and neck with obvious results immediately and about 2 weeks later as predicted the remaining hairs shed leaving me with only the white ones so no shadow. Cost was $400 for the one treatment and was worth every penny. I had 4 treatments a couple years ago prior to HRT that I do not believe were as effective for some reason. She did good back then but this last time was wonderful 100% effective as near as I could tell, I Love Noushi!"    Lisa Lesher

"I've heard laser described as permanent hair reduction, and that's what it did for me. I had 8 sessions some 15 years ago - full beard - and still need a lot of electrolysis (been going 1hr/week for a year). I had dark hair and light skin, so was a good candidate. It reduced most of my darker hair, and eliminated a fair amount."

"Ok; back story, I was naturally hairy prior too starting on hormones. Within about 3 to 6 months almost all; around 90% I would say of my dark body hair was gone. I had laser done on my face by a well established company. After about two years, the hair removed on my face by laser was starting to grow back. A friend of mine who had used a local doctors office who offered laser hair removal had the same experience as I had with her hair. My friend that I am referring to is a natal born female. For me, the only way to remove the hair completely from my face is to have electrolysis, which I am doing now."

"I've had the full body treatment 5 years ago and the hair hasn't grown back but, I have dark brown hair. Laser is questionable with red hair and downright will not work on blonde hair. Hope that helps."

"I have fair skin and a mix of brown, red, and blond hair, which was very thick when I started. Laser has thinned it out substantially, but I'll need electrolysis to get it all. It was worth the price I paid since it greatly reduced the amount of electrolysis I need."

"I have been going every six weeks since November. Have pretty good results. 90 percent on my beard is gone. Still have some rough spots on upper lip and around my chin. Treatments hurt!!!

"After three sessions, I have only a very few dark hair remaining. Of course, I'll have to get electrolysis for the gray hairs, but luckily there is not a huge number of those "I had laser. It was a torturous experience each time - particularly the upper lip. I paid thousands of dollars over the course of about 2 years. Finally, all the hair seemed to be gone. Well, it was gone for several year, only to return in full force, all blonde on my fair skin - not a candidate for laser again."

"I damaged a tattoo, but it did nothing for my red hair. Lasers have a bad rep for gingers... Beth has dark hair and tried both laser and galvanic blend electrolysis with mixed results."

"I've done well with it... providing you have dark hairs. Seems you need occasional touch ups though. I will supplement with electrolysis. Just make sure you go to someone reputable. Lots of older machines out there not as effective. Good luck.

"Works great on dark brown and black hairs, to me did 7 sessions think 8 months hrt helping too.. no regrets just wish it didn't hurt my sensitive nerves..."

"I love my results. I got my face and upper legs done. I actually moved back to Atlanta GA from Phoenix AZ. Turns out I will be flying back to Phoenix to get the rest of my body taken care of. It ends up being half the price even with 8 flights. A difference of $6,000 that I rather spend elsewhere on this pricey transition. I was shocked to see how expensive laser is out here.  Not all lasers are created equal. I did a lot of research in both cities. May I suggest you find a place that uses a machine with a good rating and results. Stay out of the sun when you are going for your treatments. Any darker pigment change in your skin will affect your results."

"I have fair skin and a mix of brown, red, and blond hair, which was very thick when I started. Laser has thinned it out substantially, but I'll need electrolysis to get it all. It was worth the price I paid since it greatly reduced the amount of electrolysis I need."

"I purchased a 6 session package for my beard. I'll be getting my 3rd one tomorrow. First off it didn't get my gray hairs but after the 1st time it really got the dark ones and I had zero shadow even after a couple of days. Sessions are 4 weeks apart for the hair growth cycle and they claim each session will get rid of about 20 % of the dark hair. So far there is dark hair coming back but I'll hold judgment until after I'm completely done. I'll have to do electrolysis on the remaining gray ones. Hope this helps."

"I've had one session with laser and it is already a big difference. When I looked at all the options laser provided the biggest bang for the buck. I also think that staying away from spa and salons that do laser is something a lot of us should do. I we
nt to a place that hair removal is all they do and I think that plays a lot into what you get out of it. My skin is so soft and there is a major reduction in hair already. I have medium complexion and tan very easily."

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