Facial Hair Removal
Hair reduction and removal can be an important step for many transgender women. Body hair removal prior to gender reassignment surgery is common, but it could also be that you are looking for a way to remove facial hair for the sake of gender affirmation. Hormone therapy does a good job of stopping new hair growth, but it does not necessarily reduce existing hair. It may also be the case that hormone replacement therapy only works over a long period of time, and you are looking for a quicker way of removing hair.
There are many different methods of hair removal- some being more permanent hair removal options, and others that only temporarily remove hair from the face and body. Each of these methods come with their own pros and cons, so it is best to consult with your physician and discuss all your options before you decide.
Facial Hair Removal Benefits
Hair on the face and body can cause insecurities for a transgender woman, even long after she began transitioning. Body hair can also slow down the process of transition, for example: chest hair during breast augmentation or hair in the genital areas during a bottom surgery.
Complete hair removal is a procedure that could help to reduce body dysmorphia and gender dysphoria, and in doing so aid in mental health by reducing psychological distress. For many members of the transgender community, permanent facial hair removal is an act of gender affirmation.
Options For Hair Removal
Shaving / Waxing
Perhaps the easiest and most common method to reduce body hair is by shaving. This can, however, only temporarily remove hair. Additionally, hair tends to grow back within a few days, which then leads to stubbles on the face.
Waxing removes hair for longer than shaving, and with a smoother effect, as it pulls each hair from the follicle, rather than cutting it off as a razor does. Hot wax is applied to the area of the skin where the hair removal is to take place. Once dried, it is pulled off in a swift motion, pulling the hair from the hair follicles. In some cases, a cloth is applied to assist in removing the wax.
With waxing, there is an increased risk of ingrown hairs and infection, and in most cases, it needs to be done professionally. Waxing can lead to skin damage or irritation if done incorrectly. A plus side of prolonged or long-term waxing is that hair growth slowly declines and hair grows back thinner each time.
Depilatory creams are another temporary method to remove unwanted hair.
Depilatory creams are composed of chemicals that dissolve the keratin in hair when placed on the skin, and once wiped off, the hair is temporarily removed. The process does not need to be done by a professional, and these creams are available at pharmacies or beauty stores. They can remove hair over a large surface, quickly.
They are more effective than shaving, in that they penetrate deeper into the hair follicles, but not as deeply as waxing. This means that the hair growth is quicker than waxing but slower than shaving. Depilatory creams are also often unsuitable for people with sensitive skins, or very coarse hair.
Laser Hair Removal Treatment
Laser hair removal is one of the more permanent hair removal methods. It is suitable for most areas of the body, including arms, underarms, chest, back, buttocks and legs. This is also a suitable treatment to remove genital hair for a trans patient undergoing bottom surgery.
Laser treatments use cosmetic lasers and pulses of concentrated light to target hair follicles in the skin. This can also be done over a large treatment area. There is a minimal amount of pain, often stated to be even less than with waxing. However, multiple sessions are needed to achieve permanent results, as the laser treatments result in reducing hair, not immediate hair-free skin.
Additionally, laser hair removal can also cause things like discomfort and swelling where the skin was treated, and can even lead to the formation of scabs or temporary hyperpigmentation.
Electrolysis Hair Removal Treatment
Electrolysis is another way to permanently remove hair. It uses an electric current at the point of hair growth, stopping the hair growth cycle completely. The hair remaining is then removed with very fine tweezers. It is also expensive and time-consuming.
Much like with laser hair removal, but perhaps even worse, electrolysis can cause discomfort, pain, or swelling. It can also result in dryness, ingrown hairs, scabs, or small blisters on the skin. It is very important that a professional and experienced practitioner performs this treatment.
Trans Facial Hair Removal FAQs
Does taking estrogen remove hair on the face and body?
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) works over a long period of time, and slowly reduces new hair growth. It doesn’t remove existing hair immediately, and most people don’t see the clear results they desire by only using HRT.
Does health insurance cover transgender hair removal?
Unfortunately in most cases, laser hair removal and electrolysis hair removal for transgender or gender-minority patients isn’t covered by medical insurance.
While this can be disheartening, there are different options to choose from when it comes to hair removal. They may not be as permanent, but they are certainly less costly.