A reader sent me this detailed report on 3 August 2002. She had done small amounts of electrolysis starting in 2001, and started again after moving. Later, she switched to an EpiLight IPL device, and was very pleased. While some women have not had such good results from flash lamp/intense pulsed light devices, there are certainly consumers with light skin and dark hair who have been very pleased.


Now, the laser recommendation. After moving to Cincinnati, I also found a new electrologist. I'd done 24 painful hours with the previous one, cleared my lip four times and my face a couple. Hadn't tackled the neck. The results were there, but not very noticeable yet. In Cincinnati, I jumped into laser electrology, and Andrea... In one single pass of my face, I had more success than in 24 hours of electro, for a tiny fraction of the cost.

One laser hit took 15 minutes and only a couple hundred dollars, and covered the whole face. I've done it five times since then, including once on my forearms/hands, and another time halfway up my forearms (so the hair will look like a gradient--ideally I want to do every part of my body, but I'm not made of money so I'm finding ways to feminize and pass, first and foremost).

I have a few thin (not noticeable once shaved, for a couple of days) dark hairs that pop up around the lip and chin, but the rest is perfect. I get a touch of fuzz along the ears that I feel I still have to shave, but I'm probably being obssessive. In any event, I used to have a very dark shadow, and now I have none. I can clean up the rest with electro but I want to do another laser pass because it is SO much easier, in terms of pain! It actually hurts more with the individual bursts (it's like you're being zapped in all the follicles simultaneously--it once made me cry), but compare a few minutes in the chair to hours and hours and you know what I mean.

I used the EpiLight system with a very competent doctor (Kim Blatt of Verve Medical Spa here in Cinti, who also does standard electrolysis), and I had thick, dark hair and very light skin, so I was an ideal candidate. But for thick, coarse hair, which many TS have, laser may be a much quicker and less expensive alternative, at least initially. If you have very light skin the chance of scarring with an experienced professional is nil, so I think it's worth a couple hundred for the chance to see results, considering the steep cost of standard electro. If you never want to shave again, cleaning up with electro afterwards will be necessary, because laser doesn't reliably kill every hair on your face. But if you have dark hair, it will kill most of them, and make the rest thinner and easier to treat. I'm so glad I took the gamble.

The biggest drawback to laser is that you have to wait two weeks for the hair to fall out, and you shouldn't shave in the meantime, lest you end up with ingrown hairs. I've only had a couple of these on my face post-laser, and I don't know how common or avoidable it is. But this means that if you're already full-time and deal with noticeable growth, laser may be a giveaway if you can't take a week-long vacation. I did it once every two months and planned my life around it, and I'm still not full-time so I'm not too concerned with the waiting.

On 21 September 2002 I got the follow-up letter below:

I have a short addendum. I skipped getting laser for a few months, to see just exactly how severe the reduction in hair has been. It's not quite as good as I said previously, but I'm still satisfied with the results. My formerly coarse hair is fine enough that when I shave, there's only a bit of light speckling around my lips and chin (where some of the thicker hairs still remain), and it takes a few days before the fine hairs under my chin become noticeable.

I will probably do one or maybe two more clearings of my face and arms with laser before I return to standard electrolysis. By this point, it would probably be more cost-effective for me to return to regular electro, but the savings in time and pain are convenient enough to be worth a couple more laser zaps.

Laser isn't a substitute for traditional electro--it's more of a useful jump-start for people with light skin and thick dark hairs, because it turns thick dark hairs to thinner lighter hairs. It's really only worthwhile if your hair is dense, too. Sparse hairs are more conveniently zapped by electrolysis.

[ September 21, 2002, 08:06 PM: Message edited by: Andrea ]