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 Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS) strongly advise having genital electrolysis before GRS.
A transgender client can feel intensely uncomfortable 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 GRS surgery. At Rebirth Electrolysis 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 discomfort stop you from doing this critical step in your surgery preparation
Why genital electrolysis prior to GRS?
Genital electrolysis is performed prior to GRS to avoid any problems with hair in your new vagina. If tissue used for a neovagina still bears hair follicles, hair may grow in the vagina which can be a health risk and can be difficult to remove.
Many GRS surgeons emphasize that patients should have genital hair removal prior to GRS since it strongly influences the operation and its outcome. For most patients that require skin grafts for vaginoplasty, scrotal tissue is transplanted during GRS.
Laser or electrolysis for your genital hair removal?
Although laser hair removal is available to GRS patients, here at Rebirth Electrolysis 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 GRS operation, there is no room for experimenting with unproven technology. As you cannot 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: genital electrolysis.
What area should be cleared?
Please consult with your surgeon about the recommended areas to clear prior to GRS. Some information on this page may be outdated or may not apply in your case. Do not rely on this page for definitive information. If your doctor has provided specific notes on areas to be cleared of hair, please be sure to bring these to your session.
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 GRS surgeons use a perineal skin flap at the posterior end of the vagina, it is best to have electrolysis on this area. Most GRS surgeons suggest removing 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, check with your surgeon as to his or her preferences.
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 time frame 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 center of the hair (papilla). Unlike your facial hair, where about 30 percent of your hair is in resting phase, in your pubic area this is 70 percent. This means electrolysis in this area is less ‘effective’ and takes a longer time frame 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 any post-electrolysis infection or other issue.
The average time frame for genital electrolysis
An average time frame looks like this, but as hair density varies from person to person you should not completely rely on it for your genital electrolysis. Due to the sensitivity of the area, we always recommend pain relief injections for this procedure. Please note that you must allot extra time at the beginning of your session to receive the injection and allow it to start working.
- 1st session: – 4 hours, then 1 week rest
- 2nd session: 2+ hours, then 1 week rest
- 3rd session: 2+ hours, then 6 weeks rest
- 4th session: 2 hours, then 6 weeks rest
- 5th session: 2 hours, then 6 weeks rest
- 6th session: 1 hour, then 1 week rest – final sessions can be scheduled as needed prior to surgery
Preparation for genital electrolysis
Shave the genital region 4-5 days prior to your genital electrolysis appointment. Because after all the hairs are shaved, only active hair follicles will grow back, which in turn allows us to be more effective.
Hydration prior to your appointment is critical, so please be sure to drink plenty of water during the day leading up to your session. Lack of hydration can prevent effective electrolysis, increase pain, and will only prolong the number of treatments needed. So proper hydration can save you money as well as time! Hydration is also essential to the healing process after your session, and can help your skin recover faster and more smoothly.
Hygiene before and after treatment is paramount, as there is a high risk of skin infections from genital electrolysis. We advise using thorough soaping of the entire area 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.
Other factors which can affect your session negatively include exercise just prior to your appointment, suffering from lack of sleep, having high stress levels, consuming large amounts of caffeine or nerve stimulants, drinking alcohol, or experiencing extreme emotional mood swings.
The sessions can be long, particularly in the beginning, so planning for something to keep your mind busy can help pass the time. Audio books, favorite music, podcasts or other entertainment are allowed and encouraged. Wearing loose clothing that allows for airflow is also highly recommended. You may take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen prior to treatment.
Undergoing genital electrolysis
It is normal to feel nervous or uncomfortable prior to your first genital electrolysis session. In our practice, this a routine treatment and we will try to make it as comfortable as possible for you. Removing genital hair tends to be more painful than facial hair removal. With our pain relief injections available at Rebirth Electrolysis, 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 lidocaine cream, where others found injections necessary.
Meticulous post-treatment skin care is very important to avoid infection and aid healing.
Recovery after 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. A cold compress following your session can help with pain and swelling. Ice packs can be applied for 10 minutes at a time followed by a 20 minute break before re-applying. Proper hydration also helps with healing immensely, and loose clothing that allows for airflow during healing is recommended.
Your skin is more prone to infection after electrolysis. After 2-3 days of natural healing, applying a triple antibiotic cream can help. You must let any scabs that form fall off naturally without picking or scratching them off. This can greatly increase the chance of infection!
Scrotal tissue may heal slower from electrolysis than other parts of your body. Proper amounts of sleep can help with healing, as can planning for relaxation or low activity levels following your appointment.