Transsexual and Transgender
Hair removal for transsexual and transgender clients is recommended to be undertaken with electrolysis as it is the only guaranteed method for permanent removal. Some patients use laser, but I do not think this should be considered the primary method.
With all electrolysis treatments, the time frame is dependant upon a number of factors such as pain threshold, the density of hair being treated, skin sensitivity, and frequency/duration of treatments. With both Male to Female and Female to Male hair electrolysis in preparation for gender reassignment surgery, a period of at least 9 months should be allowed for.
Many clients find that topical local anaesthetic creams/gels such as EMLA, L.M.X.4 and Ametop will aid in reducing some discomfort whilst being treated. These should be applied to the relevant area approximately one hour before treatment.
Male to Female
For Male to Female clients, permanent hair removal is usually considered one of the most fundamental parts of transition, particularly on the face and body, but also important on the genital area when preparing for Vaginoplasty (construction of a vagina). It is vital that hair does not return within the Vagina post-operatively, as this can cause the client significant problems.
The area to be treated is an area at the back of the scrotum towards the anus approximately 2cm in width. This should ideally be permanently cleared by Electrolysis due its precision and guarantee of permanency in removal of the unwanted pubic hair. This treatment is compulsory for patients that are circumcised and/or will be having a scrotal flap technique. This area of scrotal skin is the donor site that is used to make up what has been removed from the shaft during circumcision, or the patient has suffered some atrophy (shrinkage) of the shaft or a small phallus (penis).
The following pictures show the penile/scrotal area for hair removal (click to enlarge).
Please note that in most patients who are receiving the penile inversion surgical technique (NOT CIRCUMCISED) hair removal will not be required pre-surgery in the genital area.If there is an abundance of hair on the shaft, your surgeon and/or clinical nurse specialist may request the permanent removal of this hair.
Download M2F genital hair removal information sheet (PDF)
Female to Male
For Female to Male clients, permanent hair removal on the forearm area is required in preparation for Phalloplasty (construction of a penis). Electrolysis will start at the medial aspect and go across to the outer aspect of the forearm. If this hair is not removed permanently, complications may develop once the skin becomes internal surrounding the Urethra.
Whilst using the forearm as the donor site is the easiest to perform, note that the area used for the skin graft will result in scarring from surgery. The treated arm is usually the one that the client does not write with.
The following pictures show the forearm and thigh areas for hair removal (click to enlarge).
(Courtesy of Mr Nim Christopher, Consultant Uroandrologist - St Peters Andrology Centre)