Laser Hair Removal: Four Years on
M.S.B.T.H., Cristianos Laser Clinic.
Back in 1998 I asked conference to trust in three things:
Four years on, I feel the time of judgement has come.
In 1998 it was generally accepted by the medical profession that the technology of The Chromos 694 Ruby Laser had been clinically proven to destroy the hair follicle. However having researched, developed and clinically proven the technology to work, the task of the medical physicists was complete. In what circumstances the technology was used was outside their brief. It is only when the proven technology is working in the field that data regarding its application can be gathered.
Removing a full beard growth for a transwoman is a very different application to removing hair growth from the lip of a postmenopausal genetic female.
Whilst many clinics welcome Transwomen there were no case studies available which charted a course of treatment for this patient group. Therefore we were very much working from theory and personal experience rather than from fact.
The coarse nature and sheer volume of hair needing to be removed in my view put Transwomen at the top of the list for successful treatments.
For me the shock reality that Transpeople are in many cases treated differently from others fuelled my passion to make a positive difference to the lives of the people I treat.
Over the past four years we have gathered both photographic and documented evidence, which specifically looks at the success of laser hair removal with the Chromos 694 Ruby in the removal of facial hair for Transwomen.
There are many elements, which come into play, not least of all the skin and hair colour, hormone regimes, and stress levels. As with electrolysis there are as many differing case histories as there are clients but we have tried to formulate an overall view of our findings, which we have highlighted with specific histories.
All of the patients have given consent for their photographs to be shown at conference.
One of the areas of great importance to clients is the number of treatments needed. We found that an average of fifteen full-face sessions including neck, with an average of four supplementary treatments on particularly stubborn areas namely the upper lip and chin.
An average of fifty percent reduction is usually achieved within the first five months. During the course of the next five treatments the cheeks and neck can, in most cases be cleared all but for a slight peppering of dark hair. The remainder of the treatment continues to breakdown the chin, with the upper lip being the most resistant. A small amount of dark hair between 1-10% may not respond to the laser, either because of the depth of the follicle or hormonal influences.
The first two patients we are going to look at show clearly the pattern of hair reduction on the cheeks and neck and areas such as the upper lip and chin which although more stubborn are successfully treated.
Our first patient Suzanne has extremely dense, coarse hair growth. As you can clearly see the amount of hair on her cheeks and neck reduces dramatically within just three months. The upper lip and chin respond more slowly to treatment. This can be a cause of frustration for the patient as this area is often the one they wish to have cleared first.
Our second patient Linda also has very dense, dark facial hair, again we can clearly see the reduction of the hair on the cheeks and neck and stubborn areas either side of the chin and the upper lip.
As you can see persistence on these areas pays off with very little hair left at the end of treatment.
Both of these patients are excellent examples to show the condition of the patient's skin post-treatment. The skin texture is smooth with absolutely no signs of pitting which is often seen after extensive electrolysis.
Both of these patients chose to have full-face treatment. Our next patient chose to have upper-lip and chin treated first, the patient then moved onto to the cheek area and will eventually have her neck completed (again the condition of the skin is excellent).
The last patient we are going to look at in this section is a patient you have seen before but I wanted to show conference her up to date photographs almost two years after the end of her treatment. This is Vicky when she first attended the clinic. Vicky's hair growth was so dark she was unable to attend her GIC in role.
Now almost two years after her treatment Vicky still remains hair free. The daily ritual of shaving male pattern beard growth is only a memory, she is able to live her life successfully in her chosen gender role.
Removal of hair from the genitalia prior to SRS for M2F patients is an area we have taken an interest in over recent years.
Although some people think my presence in the theatre during a M2F reassignment was above and beyond the call of duty, I considered it was essential in order to understand the areas of skin, which needed to be hair free and why?
Historically problems with destruction of skin tissue when electrolysis is used on the scrotal tissue had led surgeons to advise that no treatment should be given to remove the hair.
As we have seen in the previous slide, the use of the Chromos does not run such risks and many surgeons are now reviewing their position.
Theory would say that removal of hair by means of laser is possible on any body site. Obviously this treatment must be carried out before surgery and I would strongly recommend starting a year prior to surgery in order that anypossible regrowth can be dealt with. We will keep you informed of long-term results of this procedure.
During the last two years we have also been working in the field of F2M preparing donor skin tissue for phalloplasty.
The presence of hair on the donor site has been the main stumbling block to the use of the abdominal flap. It can also lead to post-operative complications and the necessity to shave the phallus after surgery.
As I am sure we all know male hormones are the culprit when it comes to hair growth. So where does this leave the success of laser hair removal in genetically female patients taking large doses of male hormones. Would it prove successful?
Working with Mr David Ralph and a willing volunteer we decided the benefits of successful treatment were well worth fighting for.
We commenced with an in-house trial. After the success of this, we have been striving to find funding to carry out an ethically approved clinical trial to prove our findings. Again we will keep you posted.
So it's back to our original questions:
1. Have we proved laser hair removal works?
The removal of 90-99% of dark hair in approx 20 hours of treatment far supersedes any previous methods of hair removal. A note of caution here! It is important to stress I can only speak for the work we have carried out at Cristianos. There are many lasers and light machines out there - they do not all remove hair successfully!
2. Have we proved long-term results with no risk to the skin?
The removal of hair for the trans person is an investment in their future. One of the overriding fears for prospective patients back in 1998 was whether the medical physicists would be proved right and the hair would not regrow. Well two years after the end of treatment Vicky is proof that time has shown those medics were right.
3. Have we proved our commitment?
We feel we have not only proved our commitment to an ethical and honest treatment but also our commitment to research and development in the area of treatment for all transpeople.
Cristianos laser clinic has been established for over 10 years with clinics in Manchester, London, Leeds and Lancashire specialising in all types of laser hair removal inc dark skin and light hair along with skin treatments for the trans community inc active acne, thread veins and Rosacea. Free consultations and test patches. For more information see www.cristianos.co.uk or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Web page copyright GENDYS Network. Text copyright of the author. Last amended 31.10.04, 30.04