Genital electrolysis

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Genital electrolysis

Electrolysis hair removal is mainly used to remove facial hair, but it is effective on your whole body, including your genital region. Most surgeons who perform Surgical Reassignment Surgery (SRS) strongly advise having genital electrolysis before SRS.

How much hair needs to be removed from the genital zone before a Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)?

How much hair needs to be removed from the genital zone before a Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)?

Why genital electrolysis prior to SRS? Can’t I have my SRS without it?

Genital electrolysis is performed prior to SRS to avoid any problems with hair in your new vagina. In most patients, the area between the anus up to a part of the scrotum is going to be used to create the back wall of the vagina. The area from the scrotum up towards the base of the penis, will also be used to build up the vagina. For most patients that require skin grafts for vaginoplasty, scrotal tissue is transplanted during SRS.

The most important reason to have the hair in that area removed, is that there is a high risk of infection of the hair follicles. This risk may be higher even due to the friction that you will experience against that skin during dilation but also during intercourse, for example. And since the skin is no longer exposed after surgery, it’s too late to remove the hair later on.

Many SRS surgeons emphasize that patients should have genital hair removal prior to SRS since it strongly influences the operation and its outcome. Some may not want to perform SRS if you still have hair in the area used for your neo-vagina.


Laser or electrolysis for your genital hair removal?

Although we have a laser hair removal machine at 2pass Clinic we strongly advise you to use genital electrolysis. Lasers have not been proven to be permanent, and since genital hair removal can often not be redone after the SRS operation, there is no room for experimenting with unproven technology. As you can’t afford to risk your time, money, or the quality of your surgical outcome on unproven technology, you should invest in the only proven permanent option for hair removal: genital electrolysis.

Caution: Many surgeons use a “scrape” technique during surgery, where they scrape away the hair follicles, but results indicate this is not effective and complicates recovery (eg ingrown hairs). We recommend you rely on electrolysis.

How much hair needs to be removed from the genital zone before a Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS)?

Vaginoplasty, using Penile Inversion, is the most common MTF genital surgery.

  • This utilizes the penile skin to line the vagina, and the scrotal skin to create the labia.
  • Some SRS surgeons use a perineal skin flap at the posterior end of the vagina, it is best to have electrolysis on this area.
  • It is suggested to remove the hair around the base of the penis and the hair on the midline 7 inches forward from the anus.
  • If you plan to do genital electrolysis, please do consult with your surgeon as to his or her preferences.

Genital electrolysis area to be cleared


Should I remove more hair as a precaution?

As we explained, the marked area is the only area that will be used to build the vagina and hence the only area where it’s mandatory. If you have a lot of hair around this area, you can expect some hair growth near your vagina. This is no problem, it just depends on what you prefer. If you want to have more hair removed, you are free to do so.

Practical: timeframe of genital electrolysis

  • You should plan for genital electrolysis to take about a year, although some get it done sooner (7 months minimum). All parties should keep in mind that electrolysis is a gradual process, and that it can take a year or more to completely clear an area.
  • As the complete hair growth cycle of genital hair is between 5-7 months, you will need at least this timeframe to completely clear all hair.
  • In the resting phase (telogen phase) of the hair cycle, killing the hair is less effective as it is not connected to the growth centre of the hair (papilla). Unlike your facial hair, where about 30 procent of your hair is in resting phase, in your pubic area this is 70 procent. This means electrolysis in this area is less ‘effective’ and takes a longer timeframe to completely clear the area.
  • A hair of the genital area stays in the resting phase for about 12 weeks, then it is active for 2-4 months. Ideally an interval of 6 weeks between different treatments is recommended to catch a sufficient new load of “active hairs” every session.
  • On average you will need 6 cycles of electrolysis.
  • We recommend completing your genital electrolysis it at least six weeks before, and preferably 8 weeks before your sex reassignment surgery so in case of an infection, your skin has time to heal in case a complication occurs, as it could take a month to clear up.

The average timeframe for genital electrolysis

  • An average timeframe looks like this, but as hair density varies from person to person you should not completely rely on it for your genital electrolysis.
    • 1st session: Book one day of intensive treatment the first session (8 hours with painpump). Take care: 2 different electrologist will work on you: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Genital electrolysis is very demanding for the electrologist. A full day is physically to demanding for the electrologist. Also longer breaks are needed to keep fully focused for this zone.
      • 6 weeks rest
    • 2nd session: 6 hours
      • 6 weeks rest
    • 3rd session: 4h
      • 6 weeks rest
    • 4rd session: 2h
      • 6 weeks rest
    • 5th session: 1h
      • 6 weeks rest
    • 6th session: 0,5h
      • 1 week rest
    • rest: come by every week for 15 min of genital electrolysis to remove the hairs that still pop up if necessary

So on average we need around 20 hours to clear your genital hair (so it will cost you around 2000 euro if you do it with painpump) and on average the total timeframe to clear the genital area with electrolysis is around 1 year.

Book your electrolysis

Preparation for genital electrolysis

  • Shave the genital region 4-5 days prior to your genital electrolysis. Because after all the hairs are shaved, only active hair follicles will grow back, which in turn allows us to be more effective (you don’t electrolyse the hairs that can not be killed in this stage anyway).
  • Iso-betadine soap—Hygiene before and after treatment is paramount, as there is a high risk of skin infections from genital electrolysis. We advise using Betadine liquid soap in the shower the morning of your genital electrolysis. Also the days after genital electrolysis this can be useful. You must be scrupulous about hygiene when getting genital electrolysis, especially if getting it performed close to your surgery date.

Your genital electrolysis

  • It is normal to feel nervous and embarrassed prior to your first genital electrolysis session. Know that for us this a routine treatment and we will try to make it as comfortable as possible for you.
  • We use the machine’s highest settings for genital electrolysis if possible. You want a high kill rate, and any scarring will never be seen. Unlike your face, it doesn’t matter if you overdo it a bit and mark the skin slightly, after all the only person who will ever see it after vaginoplasty is your gynaecologist!
  • The skin itself is soft, wrinkled and rubbery in texture, and the follicles can be very ‘tight’ in some clients. Careful attention to stretching the skin around the follicle being treated is essential, and sometimes the electrologists finds a relatively stiff needle, such as some of the one-piece designs, helpful as it may be necessary to push the needle into the follicle considerably more forcefully than with any other site on the body, and a highly flexible two-piece needle may be prone to bending.
  • Removing genital hair tends to be more painful than facial hair removal. With our pain pump, available at 2pass Clinic, pain can be reduced significantly. Most people find genital electrolysis more painful than facial work. You may need to take additional steps to alleviate pain. Some have reported adequate pain relief with painkillers and/or EMLA, where others found injections necessary.
  • Meticulous post-treatment skin care is very important to avoid infection and aid healing.

Recovery of your genital electrolysis

  • After treatment, skin may be red and even slightly swollen. This varies from patient to patient.
    It is extremely important to take care of hygiene when you get genital electrolysis, particularly if treatment is close to your operation date.
  • Skin is more prone to infection after electrolysis. We’ll provide lotion to avoid this and help healing your skin after treatment.
  • Scrotal tissue may heal slower from electrolysis than other parts of your body.

More info on electrolysis hair removal


Do you also remove hair from the genital zone before the sex reassignment surgery?

Yes we do, we strongly advise electrolysis before the operation because laser is not always permanent and after the operation you won’t get a second change to remove the hair.

Is electrolysis hair removal painful?

The short answer almost no electrologist dears to give you to give you is: yes it is. Some people can bear it, other’s barely.

The longer version: Everyone has their own tolerance to pain. Descriptions of the discomfort vary from “no worse than a mosquito bite,” to “like having a rubber band snapped against my bare skin hard.” Electrolysis can give a stinging and pricking sensation, and each hair has to go through it. The degree of also relative to the area of treatment. Certain spots, such as the upper lip, are known to be more sensitive than spots like the brows.

More information about pain during electrolysis hair removal

Can shave my hair in between electrolysis hair removal sessions?

Yes, one of the common misconceptions about electrolysis is that you have to let the hair grow in-between sessions.  In actual fact, you can treat the hair as you would do usually, even shaving if on the legs or face.  The hair doesn’t have to be any longer than 1-2 mm for electrolysis to be effective. It is even contra-productive because it makes insertions more difficult. It is important you stop shaving 3 days prior to your electrolysis session.

We should emphasize that in contrast to popular believe shaving of the hair will not thicken it, coarsen it or make it grow more rapidly.


How many hours of electrolysis will I need to clear an area?

This is probably the most frequently asked question, and one we can unfortunately not answer with certainty. There are many factors influencing the amount of sessions needed to clear an area, some of which are still unknown to us. To fully clear your facial hair permanently it can take anything from 8 months up to 2 years in some cases. The number of sessions needed varies from 8 to 15 sessions. The number of hours needed varies from 90 to 300 hours.

Should I be on hormones to start electrolysis?

No. Beard growth is driven by a genetic response of the hair follicles to the hormone called ‘androgen’. This response of the hair follicles is genetic, and sadly we cannot yet change the genetics of your hair. From our experience, unless the masculinization process is put to a halt early in puberty, or the individual naturally has sparse beard growth, extensive facial electrolysis is usually necessary for trans women.

Is electrolysis better than laser hair removal?

Laser is less effective than electrolysis because it targets the pigment of the hair that is only found in the Bulb, not the Bulge where the growth cells are. The damage to the hair is considerable enough that it will slow the growth cycle for a couple of months before reappearing.The other advantage of electrolysis is that it is suitable for pretty much all skin tones and hair colours, unlike laser hair removal.

Laser first? The simple rule is: Do laser first if you have dark hair and light skin. If you have dark skin or light hair, skip laser and do electrolysis from the start.

More info on the differnce between laser and electrolysis hair removal.


Is electrolysis hair removal really permanent?

Electrolysis is the only permanent hair removal method which is recognised and approved as such by the FDA (The US Food and Drug Administration). The FDA is an agency of the US government that regulates a broad range of consumer products, services and drugs in order to ensure not only the efficacy of the product, but also the safety of the consumer. The FDA is an agency of the US government that regulates a broad range of consumer products, services and drugs in order to ensure not only the efficacy of the product, but also the safety of the consumer.This means that the FDA have carefully examined the electrolysis technique and have expressed that it’s safe and that it permanently removes hair.

Can I choose my electrologist?

For administrative reasons we do not give each patient the same electrologist each visit, although we try to meet the patient’s preference. The rotating of electrologists discourages personal dependence and more easily facilitates the exchange of skills, which maintains high standards.

Can I do Electrolysis at your clinic while recovering form the surgery?

Yes you can. We suggest you book 1 day of electrolysis a few days after the surgery through our website:

If you have a choice though it is probably a more comfortable option to book the electrolysis a few days before your surgery.

I have some discoloration on my face after electrolysis, is this normal? Will it go away?

Hyperpigmentation is possible after electrolysis. The inflammation caused by the electrolysis destruction can sometimes stimulate melanocytes (pigment cells in the skin) to produce pigment.

This reaction is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. When this happens in electrology, tiny dark patches or dots appear 2 to 6 weeks after treatment where each hair was epilated. These marks may persist for 4 to 6 months, but disappear as the skin recuperates. This reaction can develop on any patient. However, this reaction is most common in darker-skinned patients. It rarely occurs in lighter-skinned patients. Sunlight seems to encourage this reaction. Therefore we advise our patients to protect against the sun for 2 to 3 weeks after treatment.

In very rare instances, inflammation from electrolysis arrests the pigment production of the pigment cells and causes white spots, or hypo-pigmentation. In all such cases the melanocytes recuperate and the skin fully returns to normal; usually within several months.

I suffer from psoriasis, can I still get electrolysis?

On the active psoriasis zone electrolysis is contra-indicated.

I suffer from PCOS, can I still get electrolysis?

It is not a contra-indication, but in some people it doesn’t really help because too much new hair is recruited. In some individuals the problem is less pronounced than in others.

The average person has 1,000 follicles per square inch. However, that does not mean one grows 1,000 hairs. Where a man may have 100, to 500 visible hairs in a square inch, a woman may have 0 to 25. You must understand that hormonal problems (like PCOS) work in such a way that new follicles are recruited to start growing hair, where they never grew before. The severity of the problem defines how long it takes for new follicles to be recruited, and how many at a time are stimulated in that term. So, until one arrests the problem that is causing the new hair recruitment, one will continuously gain new hairs, and one may may have to come back forever.

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