TRANSGENDER BEAUTY



Vicky Lee's Laser Facial Hair Removal


Chris Hart

 


Hair Follicles


Vicky's Monthly Laser Treatment Experience

Why did I choose laser? I had tried electrolysis but as I work so many hours I felt that one day a month was less intrusive than weekly electrolysis. I knew that laser would not clear my white hair (which was maybe 30% of my growth) and that I might move on to electrolysis for this after laser.

Over the last few years - talk of "painless", fast, miracle laser treatment, for removing facial hair has been talked about a lot. During 1998 I compared articles and manufactures details (particularly from the USA). I have also talked to many people who had tried the treatment here and in the states.

Many sources of information conflict, but overall I found Chris Hart at Cristianos Laser Clinic gave the most consistent and complete answers and advice. In the seventh edition of The Tranny Guide I felt (at last) confident to run an article on my findings and in March 99 I embarked on a course of treatment myself.

Overall after a year I have been thrilled by the results. The boost to my confidence has been amazing. By the third treatment I was able to change my foundation to a much lighter brand and I was no longer worried about rubbing my make-up off in public.

The treatment has led (for me), to a surprisingly greater effect which I will describe in detail. Suffice to say at this point that I know I am more "left of centre", (that is closer to fully transsexual), than I had previously accepted. The following is my diary as I look back over the year.

With the Chromos 694machine I understand that treatment at less than 15 joules per centimetre square of flesh is ineffective. The best results are achieved at 20 Jcm2, However not every body can cope with the discomfort at this setting.

My test patch was at 17 Jcm2 and my treatment was between 18.5 and 20 Jcm2. Through a discreet cobbled mews I approached the Laser Clinic, after a three-hour drive from London to Manchester. The smart modern rooms shared the facility of a group of businesses. Chris and Sue in smart white uniforms made me feel most at ease. In fact they had me in stitches of laughter (but that's not difficult - especially when I am nervous).

A consultation consisted of Chris studying my stubble, (which was just visible after one days growth, as advised over the phone). I was lucky my hair was dark and my skin light with no tan and I was not under any medication. However due to my age I have about 20% white hair which will not absorb the heat of the laser and therefore will not be treated.

I had thought that if the treatment worked for me I would take it step by step whenever I wanted to, or felt I could afford it. However it was soon clear that this was not the right approach as Chris spent a long time explaining to me how hairs grow and the treatment has to be "managed".

Chris explained If she "zapped" the hairs with the laser most of the dark hairs would be destroyed. However only 10% of the hairs are growing in their follicles (anagen stage) at any one time. Other follicles will be empty (between telagon and anagen stages) and some will have hairs but they are not growing (catagen stage). Most of the destroyed hairs will fall out over the next few weeks, but ONLY the hairs growing will be gone for good. At some time in the future the follicles not growing a hair, or without a hair, will start to grow a new hair. It may take some months before that happens.

Chris told me for long term results I need to commit to a routine of a treatment every 4 - 5 weeks (NOT more and not less) therefore allowing us to know what the follicles are doing and catching them systematically as they start to grow. I could then expect to clear the whole face within on average 10 treatments - IF I could cope with the discomfort of treating the whole face each visit.

Chris's charges, flexibility of her care, and the management of each case are just some of the reasons that I had chosen her service (despite the 6-7 hours drive and the loss of a complete day to each treatment). The other reason is that she uses the Chromos 694 machine which, I believe, has currently the best reputation, clinical trial results and technical match to the job.

For her fee Chris covers the whole process of freezing up with ice packs and taking breaks if necessary. It IS uncomfortable (but not as bad as electrolysis). Some people can't take too much, without taking a break. I have seen Chris give one client a break, with cooling ice packs, while she alternates with another client.

From those that have been to other clinics I have heard that a half-hour (or hour) treatment may be just that and sometimes includes freezing up, leaving less time for laser shots. If the discomfort is too much then breaks become lost time. Of course this 'up against the clock' level of care may not allow enough time to cover the whole face, leaving little control over the management of the hairs growth cycles.

Time for action - After exfoliation protective goggles and a good freeze up with ice packs - Chris made 122 shots at 17Jcm2, to the side of my neck. Her pen like tool has to be at right angle to the skin, as she aims a green spot of light the size of a penny. A metal probe touches the skin near by, to set the distance of the laser from the skin. Then ZAP the red laser replaces the green light and the smell of burning hair accompanies the shock. She overlaps a series of circles leaving no hair untouched. This was my patch test and as I had come so far this was done in the morning to allow a good 3-4 hours to see what reaction I had. I was lucky no unexpected skin reaction. I returned to the table for another 844 shots (966 in total).

At the end of this session I wondered what kind of loony I was. I felt that I could not touch my skin (which was not the case - it just felt that way). In the car I had the air vents on cold, blowing at my face AND the windows open all the way home. The smell of burning hair in my nostrils stayed with me for about three days. I had allowed two days before I had to shave and make-up. When I did, I felt that (although looking and feeling OK) my skin was like that of an orange and that the blade could not get at the hair. The black hairs although singed off down to the skin had started to move out of the follicle and looked blacker than ever. My white hairs of course just grew as before. A layer of Dermablend got me through the night (just).

It was a full 5 days before my skin calmed down smoothed out and I could shave properly. The next few days left me feeling the whole thing was a waste of time until 17 days after the treatment. It was a Monday morning and as I looked in the mirror I was amazed. WOW - There were large bald areas with no dark hair - a very significant result.

8/4/99 - My second visit 903 shots. As Chris froze me she explained that I must NOT let my face tan at all. She advised high factor sun cream at ALL times. Her arm had caught the sun that week and she shot her arm with the laser. By the time I left a burn the size of a penny had developed on her arm. I didn't need telling again, just imagine that all over your face. Later in the year I was to catch a bit of a tan on one side of my neck which left me looking like a leopard for 10 days - the burnt skin exfoliated away, but fears of skin cancer in my old age plagued my mind. More care with the factor 30 sun cream in the future.

5/5/99 - My third visit 729 shots at 20 Jcm2. Yes less shots as there were less black hairs to aim at and each shot was less fierce (less painful) as there were less black hairs in each circle. This time on my WOW day I was really stunned after two weeks of recovery, my skin was looking great. Just a few small areas remain stubborn notably (in my case) on one side just under my chin. Not only was the dark hair GONE but the skin was softer and smoother. (The white hairs were soft. I had to shave by feel as I could not see them). Friends commented at how healthy and glowing I look. This was almost as good as it could get - I had tasted Nirvana and this was when the Transsexual effect took hold.

I was experiencing something new. For example at the bank counter wearing trousers, tee shirt and NO make-up the clerk called me Mrs (my paperwork is gender free). Many people did the same. Previously even in a skirt and make-up, for years, most people recognise me as a tranny and show it by the way they refer to me. Now it is only when I speak that they look shocked and realise (their mistake). This I find leaves me a little embarrassed for them so now I am working harder to modulate my voice. However after years of public exposure, (all be it from beneath a layer of Dermablend), my confidence has gone through the roof following the first three treatments.

2/6/99 - My fourth visit 738 shots at 20 Jcm2. On arrival Chris studied my face and said "OK as expected new follicle growth, good, that means they are growing and when I zap them I get most of them for good". Seven more times and each time we will catch the new follicle growth, which will become less and less. I was surprised even though I thought I understood the cycles, I had thought I had been LUCKY and that I had managed a quick (and cheap) result.

Result

I realised that I needed to commit to ten treatments 10% X 10 treatments = 100% cleared - IF my visits are regular enough to get the hairs when they are growing. I realised I needed to commit to a cycle of :-

1 - Treatment

2 - Five to seven days of rough skin that is hard to shave and is hard to cover with make-up

3 - My wow day about 10 to 15 days after treatment.

4 - About two weeks of ecstasy - days of little make-up and super skin.

5 - In the last few days of the month some new follicle growth.

It was not until this the 4th visit that I fully understood the commitment that I had to make. (Of course the alternative with electrolysis is many more visits and many days growing hair long enough to grab hold of with tweezers). As we booked the next session in the diary I looked forward and realised how much this was going to effect the rest of my year. I had hoped for a three-week trip to America but realised that this would be hard to arrange.

5/7/99 - My fifth visit 714 shots at 18.5 Jcm2. I explained to Chris how I have found it hard to take the ups and downs of emotion between the thrill of being clear of facial hair and the week of recovery after each treatment. I guess that is because I am impatient. These emotions are also coloured by the fact that as the process is relatively new - it takes a leap of faith to believe that the total process will be permanent (or at the least need little maintenance). It has been a struggle to stop my face tanning, as I tan easily.

However the biggest experience has been rationalising why I am putting myself through all this. I lay on the table enjoying the pain - knowing I am working towards a goal - but what is that goal and why is it important to me? The conclusion is somehow scary and exciting all at the same time. I conclude I am "left of centre" more towards the transsexual end of the scale than I had previously accepted. This takes me to a different level of explanation and requires a new level of acceptance (or again potential rejection) by my loved ones.

I know that Chris gives time to listen to all of her clients and is so patient with our fears, which of course for the trangendered, carry so many extra facets. (I can't believe that all clinics can offer as much empathy).

8/8/99 - My sixth visit 760 shots at 19.5 Jcm2. Chris explains that she finds that the top lip is the most stubborn area. For those that live close enough she offers to zap their top lip Inbetween treatments (at no charge). As I can't make these extra visits - she offers to zap my top lip (and my stubborn under chin area) twice over. The top lip hurts the most and to do it twice really takes some endurance.

7/9/99 - My seventh visit 790 shots at at 18 Jcm2. Limited new follicle growth. The skin repairs itself much faster.

5/10/99 - My eighth visit 631 shots at 19.5 Jcm2. At this point I am virtually clear of dark hair and new follicle growth is negligible. As each shot is only hitting a few dark hairs the pain is much reduced. The skin returns to normal colour by the next morning and the skin feels fine.

9/11/99 - My ninth visit 507 shot at 20 Jcm2. Less shots and each shot only finding a few new hairs. This visit felt more painful but I put that down to being run down and very tired. We have planned for me to have one more treatment in December and then leave it for a few months to see what new follicle growth occurs. I expect over the next few years that I will need to have a few treatments as new follicle growth may occur. However for me this is not too important as I still have to shave the white hairs and the main objective of removing the dark shadow is complete.

Please note :- I paid full price for my treatment. No concessions or favours were made because of my journalistic position. During my visits to the clinic I have met many others that have been at different stages in their treatment. ALL have talked of similar experiences. One client I met had a particularly stubborn top lip after 10 treatments despite very good results everywhere else. Chris insisted that as long as this client could make the visits, she would treat the top lip for free, "I am not letting it get the best of me" she said. After my third visit a transsexual friend who has lived many years as a woman, started travelling with me for her treatment. Her experience has closely matched mine.

Most recent correspondence with others here and in America have all of us in agreement that even more important than the choice of equipment is the choice of management and care.

There are many clinics offering laser hair removal. Some of those that especially welcome transgendered customers are listed in this TGAtoZ Directory. There are many machines offered (and new ones are being developed). I have had successful reports from others that have been treated with other machines. Every person will have a personal experience dependent on hair colour, skin colour, pain threshold, personal commitment, choice of clinic, and machine. This has been my experience. I just wish I could have done the whole thing ten years ago when ALL my hair was dark. I know that I would now have NO facial hair and this really would feel like a miracle.

Vicky's Lee's conclusion

Only time will tell if I have experienced the future of hair removal. I expect to need a touch up with the laser from time to time. Chris Hart will probably adjust her expectations and pricing to more exactly match the client through her growing TG experience.

I need white hair removed which currently can only be achieved with electrolysis. I would choose to engage a pratitioner like Sara or Erica who's hours of hands on experience and proven results I would trust with or without a computer.

In the USA I know that new (laser like) machines are being offered to work on white hairs and darker skin.

To Summerise What Has Happened Since

I knew the theory is that only 10% of the hair follicles on my face would be in the 'Anagen' stage of the growth cycle. I therefore expected a minimum of 10 treatments to clear my face. I paid 'Cristianos Clinic' £200 per treatment with the promise that if 10 treatments did not clear the growth further treatments would not be charged. (This is exactly the same promise made to all clients). After I wrote the report I went on to a total of 11 treatments after which I deliberately took a 3 month break. This was a good period with very little black hair. With no beard shadow even without make-up. (I was being called Miss and Madam everywhere I went). The condition of my skin has never been better. However after the break I had a sprinkling all over of black hair again (but definitely no where near as thick as 'new growth' not re-growth. I have had 4 more treatments since and the black hair is now virtually eliminated. Obviously I am disappointed that 10 treatments did not 'do it' for me and of course the clinic would hope not to have to give 4 extra treatments for free. Right now I have to say I am thrilled with the results. I could not have been treated with more care, patience and consideration. I consider Christ Hart a good friend as many of her clients do.

Chris Hart at Cristianos Laser Clinic
Downs Court, 29 The Downs, Altringham, Cheshire.
Also at:
Earls Court Clinic, London, SW5
Tel: 0161 929 5560 or 07932 786534
Email:
chris@cristianos.freeserve.co.uk
Website:
wwwcristianos.co.uk