Electrolysis hair removal
is mainly used to remove facial hair, but it is effective on your whole body, including your genital region. Many doctors who perform Surgical Reassignment Surgery (SRS) strongly advise having genital electrolysis before SRS.
A transgender client can feel intensely embarrassed about merely possessing male genitalia, let alone allowing someone else to see them. However, it must be said that genital electrolysis contributes greatly to a satisfactory outcome of your SRS surgery. At 2pass Clinic we are used to working in this area and we will do everything in our power to make you feel at ease. Don’t let embarrassment stop you from doing this!
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. The most important reason to have the hair in that area removed, is that you will experience (a lot of) friction against that skin during dilation but also during intercourse. If the hair has not been removed, there is a higher risk of infection of the hair follicles due to that friction. And since the skin is no longer exposed after surgery, it’s too late to remove the hair later on. Most surgeons will not perform SRS if you still have hair in the area used for your neo-vagina.
Many SRS surgeons emphasize that patients should have genital hair removal prior to SRS since it strongly influences the operation and its outcome. For most patients that require skin grafts for vaginoplasty, scrotal tissue is transplanted during SRS.
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.
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)
- 2nd session: 6 hours
- 3rd session: 4h
- 4rd session: 2h
- 5th session: 1h
- 6th session: 0,5h
- 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.
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.