Although every journey will be unique, transgender women invariably see the face as a primary focus for initial surgery and enhancement.Breasts, genitals, hips, and everything else can be concealed for now, but the face is ‘skin exposed’ and the face is where you will be judged male or female.
Hair removal prior to facial feminisation surgery
Transgender surgery of any kind can easily take a year to book and prepare for. In the meantime, you can be doing something substantial toward your transition and one of the significant tasks you can undertake is the removal of male-pattern hair growth.
As well as facial hair, this can include: chest hair, back hair, genital hair and even arm and leg hair yet most of this hair, apart from the face, can be concealed or temporarily removed for now.
Hormone treatment to feminise the body will slightly slow and soften beard growth, but it will never stop it.
When you look your best,
you’ll feel your best and have the confidence to do your best.
We are dedicated to helping you
achieve your dream
of having bare, hair-free skin.
We do this by offering the most effective method of permanent hair removal available for transgender women: galvanic electrolysis. Galvanic electrolysis will work on every hair colour and every skin colour.
At PEACH CLINICS we work with our transwomen clients in two main areas: permanent removal of facial hair in preparation for facial feminisation surgery (FFS) and selective removal of genital hair in preparation for gender confirmation surgery (GCS).
If you are just beginning your transition, we encourage you to commence your permanent hair removal as soon as possible. Unlike medical procedures and hormone therapy, no approvals by a medical practitioner are required for permanent hair removal and you can start whenever you wish.
Aside from the physical gains from permanently removing facial hair, the self-confidence gained is enormous. Transwomen live in constant fear of a 5 o’clock shadow becoming visible. There is only so much thick make-up you can wear in an effort to conceal hair growth. Unfortunately, beard hair is the fastest growing hair on your body! Depending on how fast your beard grows, this can be a simple annoyance, or something you live in constant fear of people seeing.
Removing facial hair also assists with optimal facial surgery outcomes. The densely packed follicles of the male beard can add 8mm to 10mm of thickness to the soft tissue of the jaw and distort the results achieved from facial surgery. Prior to facial surgery, there is no guesswork in attempting to reconcile your jawline outcome after surgery with your hoped for outcome after hair removal.
Why galvanic electrolysis is best for transwomen
Surface treatments for hair removal such as shaving, waxing and depilatory creams have no effect on the hair for more than 1 or 2 millimetres below the skin’s surface. Nor will they make any contribution toward softening the jawline where densely packed beard follicles are emphasising it.
Laser and IPLLaser or IPL can temporarily remove hair right down the follicle and prevent hair from regrowing for 6 to 12 months providing your skin and hair colour are suitable.
They have the advantage of speed, but the hair will eventually regrow and require repeated treatment. This is not permanent hair removal.
ThermolysisThermolysis uses a microwave-powered needle to heat and remove each hair root. This treatment can prevent the hair from regrowing for 3 months or more. Sometimes the stem cells, which are the source of regeneration for the hair, will be destroyed with thermolysis and around 10% of hairs treated with this method may never regrow. However, hairs will have to be treated many times before, by chance, the stem cells are “hit”.
While practitioners of thermolysis will often call this method “electrolysis”, in reality it has little in common with galvanic electrolysis and should be regarded as hair reduction, not permanent hair removal.
Galvanic ElectrolysisGalvanic electrolysis works by passing an electric current into a follicle via a thin probe. There the saline water in the follicle is chemically decomposed through the electrolysis process and a minute amount of sodium hydroxide (lye) is produced.
The lye destroys the entire lining of the follicle and, most importantly, destroys the stem cells which control regeneration of the hair. These stem cells are contained in the area called the bulge situated just by the erector pili muscle.
The outcome is a follicle that can never grow a hair again. The efficiency with which this method works has led the US Food and Drug Administration to class electrolysis as the only hair removal method which can claim to be permanent.
Galvanic electrolysis will not remove hair at the speed of a single probe thermolysis device, but has a “kill” rate approaching 100% rather than the 10% achieved by thermolysis. This more than makes up for the slower removal rate.
Another long-term effect of galvanic electrolysis is that the skin produces large amounts of collagen in response to the treatment, making the skin noticeably softer. Destroying the lining of the follicle with galvanic electrolysis also has the effect of shrinking the size of the follicles as you heal, leaving the skin significantly smoother.
Galvanic electrolysis remains the most reliable and effective hair removal method for transwomen.
Hair removal prior to GCS
At PEACH CLINICS, we regularly see distressed clients needing permanent hair removal following Gender Confirmation Surgery (GCS). If only they had contacted us before their surgery!
Surgeons require various areas of skin to be free of hair if they are to be utilised in GCS surgery, especially those areas of skin which will be inside the vagina. This is to get the best results, operatively, aesthetically and practically. Some surgeons may not perform surgery if there is hair remaining on the skin used for the neo-vagina.
If skin used to make the vagina has any hair follicles remaining, they will continue to grow hair in the neo-vagina.
These hairs are very difficult to remove as they are often facing inwards and they can cause pain and irritation during penetration and dilation. Postoperative hairs remaining in the vagina can hold patients back from becoming intimate with a partner and can lead to increased dysphoria.
A few surgeons still say they will “scrape” away hair follicles during surgery, but the experience of our clients has been that this is not effective in the long term leaving the skin thin and fragile while leading to ingrown hairs and infection. Surgeons require the skin used for surgery to be in the best possible condition when they operate and, for practical reasons, may reject the idea of pre-operative genital hair removal because they see too many patients arriving for surgery with skin still recovering from recent hair removal.
Pre-operative genital hair removal should be planned well in advance of surgery. Planning around surgical dates is essential as too often we see clients who have left their hair removal until the last minute. When genital hair removal is sought just a few months before surgery, there is little that can be done to ensure permanently hair free areas at this late stage.
Starting the hair removal journey early will allow sufficient time to ensure all the hair is permanently removed and for the skin to heal as you want to ensure that the surgical area is completely clear of hair and in the best of health. Ideally, genital hair removal should start about a year before surgery. Generally, there will be between 20-25 hours of treatment required.
The gap between final hair clearance and surgery must be no less than 6-8 weeks. Any shorter period can lead to less than desirable surgical outcomes.
Some surgeons will recommend laser hair removal. This will usually only reduce the hair growth, rather than permanently remove it. Hair treated with laser can regrow in the genital region months, and sometimes years, after surgery. This can be distressing and very difficult to remove.
With genital hair removal,
there are only two things you need to remember: start early and make sure it’s permanent!
Intensive treatment sessions for transwomen
Galvanic electrolysis to remove an average male beard requires 150 hours of treatment when done as one 3-hour treatment per week for 1 year. In practice, the treatments taper off in frequency and duration towards the end of this period as the last hairs are eliminated but this is still a year to achieve a final result.
PEACH CLINICS offers sessions of intensive permanent hair removal by galvanic electrolysis for face, chest, body and genital areas. Intensive treatment can reduce the overall hours of treatment required for a beard to 100 hours conducted as a number of intensive sessions over just 6 months.
For more information, read our dedicated page on intensive treatment sessions for transgender women.Intensive treatment →
Medical services for transwomen
PEACH CLINICS collaborates with TG Health Clinic which provides the services of Dr Adam Brownhill and operates out of our Melbourne clinic in Prahran. Dr Brownhill provides medical and health services to transgender and gender diverse people.
TG Health Clinic operates as a general practice and its services include:
- HRT initiation and management
- Specialist and surgical referrals
- Telehealth consultations
TG Health Clinic provides compassionate, gender affirming healthcare in a discreet and safe environment. For more information about TG Health Clinic and to arrange an appointment, please visit their website.TG Health Clinic →
The TransHealth Initiative
PEACH CLINICS is proud to support The TransHealth Initiative which is an ongoing effort to bring together health professionals in the care for of transgender women for a common purpose: innovation and advancement of services aimed at improving the quality of life for members of the transgender female community.
Facial Feminization SurgeryA set of surgical procedures designed to soften and modify facial features perceived as masculine and which are decisive in the visual identification of facial gender.
FACIALTEAM’s philosophy is based on the individualisation of each treatment. Each face requires a different series of procedures in order to achieve a unique, more feminine look. FFS is much more than just employing the correct procedure; it is understanding the relationship between all facial features within the frame of gender traits and how specific changes will affect the overall look of your face.
Gender Confirmation SurgeryDr Marci Bowers MD is widely recognised as a pioneer in the field of gender confirmation surgery and is the first transgender woman to perform transgender surgery herself. In 2012, Dr Bowers was honored as one of the 100 most influential LGBT people on the Guardian’s 2012 World Pride Power List, in addition to being recognised as one of Huffington Post’s 50 Transgender Icons.
Dr Bowers developed her one stage GCS procedure with the basic principles of embryology in mind. As everyone has female genitalia early in gestation, the goal of the procedure is to reverse the current anatomy to its earlier configuration.
Voice FeminisationYeson Voice Center’s Vocal Folds Shortening and Retrodisplacement of Anterior Commissure (VFSRAC) is the safest, most effective way of feminising the voice. It is quite different from previous types of voice feminisation surgery in that an external skin incision is not required. Instead, an endoscopic tool is used to modify the size, length and thickness of male vocal folds into a female shape making it possible to gain a natural pitch increase with less damage to the vocal folds tissue and larynx.
The VFSRAC technique was introduced by Dr Hyung-Tae Kim, the director of Yeson Voice Center, when he was professor at the Catholic Medical University in Korea.