Laser Resurfacing After Electrolysis

Hi all. I don’t post here very much anymore, but I had a question I needed answered. I had my full beard removed years ago and still go back for occasional touch-ups (1-2 hairs) on my upper lip every 6 months or so (I also have more regular treatments on other body areas.) While I don’t think I have “scarring” from electrolysis, the areas of intensive treatment (upper lip, chin) have a small amount of wrinkling and orange peel texture with a couple of deeper pits around the corner of my lips. I think it’s a combination of slight skin damage from treatment as well as perhaps the beginnings of age starting to show.

Anyway, I’ve been looking into Erbium laser skin resurfacing and came across something that worried me. A local doctor, on his website, says specifically that he will not do ablative laser on anyone who’s had “intense electrolysis” on their face. He says that it’s because all of the hair follicles have been destroyed, and those follicles are necessary for the skin to heal. Now, I do still have peach fuzz (on purpose) but I don’t want to risk damaging my face by having skin resurfacing if it won’t heal. He’s the ONLY doctor I have ever seen list this as a contraindication (indeed, I have seen many other TG people who’ve had laser resurfacing after their electrolysis) but I wanted to check with the professionals on here and see what they say. Needless to say, I won’t be going to this one guy but I WILL tell whatever doctor I choose about my history of hair removal. I do not want to do “Fraxel” or anything like that as I’ve heard a lot of horror stories.


First the “wrinkling” you see was caused by electrolysis. (I won’t belabor the point, but aggressive clearing of certain facial areas will cause this. I’m sick of seeing this result from too aggressive treatment!) Your physician is correct about any ablative procedure. See, with such treatments the entire epidermis is removed (all of it), often deep into the dermis as well.

After the chemical peel or laser, the epidermis completely returns. Epidermal cells that line the hair follicles (and sweat glands) “leap frog” over each other and meander out of the follicle onto the naked skin. All the emerging “spots” of epidermis converge, they meet up and completely re-establish the entire epidermis. (In most cases the dermis gets somewhat thinner, but becomes more even.)

Take a look at the “pixel-type” laser, not the full ablative. With the pixel-type, microscopic holes are punched into the skin that stimulates deeper collagen remodeling … and that is probably the treatment that might help you. Larry Kunze is very “big” on the C02 pixel and erbium combination.

More on the subject …

Patients and therapists usually think, “Maybe my wrinkled lip is just age-related, because it didn’t show up for a couple years after my treatment?” Ah, no, it was caused by the electrolysis.

Consider that the skin gets swollen from the treatment itself. The entire “healing process” is completed in 18 months (after the last treatment) … so you are SWOLLEN for that extensive period of time. If you are constantly clearing the upper lip every couple months or so, you lip is in a constant state of being swollen.

So, you cannot see the final results of the treatment until a year or more AFTER the treatment is completed. And, then the wrinkles and pits show-up. Of course, age can be a factor, but the type of wrinkles I’m talking about have a VERY specific appearance … and, I see them far too often.

I sometimes “blame” the patient as well, because they want that upper lip cleared off “immediately.” I will not do it, and have lost many beard clients because of my conservative approach to the face.

Thanks for the advice. I’m very lucky in that the damage is minimal; indeed, I usually get told I have very good skin. It’s there, though, and I fear as I age it will only become more apparent. I’ve just started on Retin A and will ask the doctor about the pixelated laser. I’ve heard both good and bad things about Fraxel, but I suppose one treatment couldn’t hurt. I’ve seen other trans people who had full Co2 lasering on their face, but now I am too scared to try anything ablative.

I did the “pixel/fraxel” just for fun (one time only) … it didn’t do anything! Hurt like crazy, however.

Well, then, in your opinion what CAN be done to improve my skin tone? My main objective is to not make it worse; I don’t look scarred or anything, I just think the skin around my mouth could look a bit better. If laser would only reveal more scarring (did I get that right?) are there any cosmetic procedures that can work on electrolysis damage? I actually trained as a cosmetologist, but quasi-medical things like this are out of my range.


Try to find a (real) reconstructive plastic surgeon (one who does not own a spa is even better … no conflict and not trying to sell you on some random device). Start there and you should get straight answers.

And don’t discount the “tried and true” chemical peel … there are MANY variations. If you have white skin you will have great success; if pigmented you could “go” the Obagi route. Lots of wonderful “fillers” too, these days. Even your own “fat injections,” (that I have done to fill in my hollow cheeks).

Fat is safe, of course, because it’s your own tissue. VERY easy procedure with no down time. I think I’ll go in for another shot because I’m shriveling up again these days.

Good advice. I don’t think injections will help because it’s not a deep depression; more like “orange peel” texture. I’m hoping the Retin A will make a difference, and I will consider medium chemical peels as well.

WeRNotAfraid, can you post a picture of your wrinkling so that other customers know what to look out for? Thank you.

Perhaps, if I can find a way to take pics that show only that area. I learned the hard way a while back to never really post pictures online. It would have to be a pretty strong camera, anyway.

Bono, you are a god. You’re absolutely filled with some good information. But i’ve got to ask, do you know how long a chemical peel will last? (i.e temporary vs permanent)

Now, peel questions I am good at. It depends on the depth and type of peel done. Light peels like glycolic acid only affect the very outer layers of skin and provide a temporary refreshing. Medium depth peels like TCA are much more intense and can provide semi-permanent removal of fine lines and wrinkles (though new ones will form eventually.) Deep peels like phenol (rarely used these days) can provide very dramatic results but carry a host of serious risks and possible side effects including ghost-white skin, scarring, and a line of demarcation. Medium and deep peels should ONLY be performed by a trained physician and on suitable skin types; recently I’ve been seeing a lot of people who bought “at home” peels online and who gave themselves permanent, disfiguring scars in an effort to save a few dollars.

Update: I’ve decided on a course of treatment. I’ve started on a low dose of Retin A and will be working my way up to the strong stuff over the next 6 months to a year. At that point I am going to be having a medium depth TCA chemical peel. Retin A actually helps thicken the skin and rebuild collagen, and the TCA peel will take off the outer layers of skin and also helps to rebuild collagen and elastin. Again, my skin damage from electrolysis is relatively mild and I don’t want to undergo highly aggressive procedures and risk creating a severe problem where there wasn’t one before. I’m about at the age where is pays to start using Retin A anyway (it prevents wrinkling) so this will be two birds with one stone!

Another update. The Retin A seems to have actually revealed more skin damage than I saw before. My upper lip has some deep wrinkling on one side, and I notice that when I purse my lips my skin feels tight and damaged. I’m going to increase the strength of the Retin A and consult a physician about the possibility of a medium depth TCA peel to the area, as no topical products are powerful enough to treat this kind of wrinkling. Worst case scenario, I may have a medium to deep phenol peel sometime down the road, as that’s really the only method capable of removing deep damage. I am lucky in that my skin actually looks pretty good to the eye, and you only see the skin damage up close. However, it does seem to be becoming more obvious, and I am assuming it’s from scar tissue contracting years after I had my intensive electrolysis treatments.

This is scary stuff. I really wish I had known about all these possible outcomes, I never would have started the hair removal process.

You think it’s scary :). It’s bloody terrifying from where I’m standing. For me it would be horrible thinking I had damaged someones skin especially on the face. When Geeza’s hyper pigmentation arrived I could have dug a hole and climbed into it. Thankfully as is usually the case it is well on the way to disappearing.
I have had my own beard removed and I have some vertical lines on my upper lip. Whether these were as a result of my treatment or not I really couldn’t say for sure and I don’t lose any sleep considering it. I’m not convinced that anyone can definitely say for sure where factors such as age, genetics and other life influences should be taken into account. My mum has countless lines on her upper lip but she has never had electrolysis… She smoked for years and it is her opinion that the lines that she has are as a result of smoking. I smoked myself for a good few years… I have another quite prominent line between my eyebrows but I haven’t had electrolysis in this area. I have another deep line just under my lower back but we wont talk about that :wink:
In this age of “where there’s blame there’s a claim” you could find yourself ruined by a law suit, even an un successful one. I have no doubt that flawless skin does exist but it’s food for thought that often times images in magazines etc are airbrushed to give that flawless look. Look around at other people, just how often do you see a flawless complexion… Foundation and powder can give the effect but in time and with age and sun damage, etc it’s a losing battle, (Brigitte Bardot) Working on someone when they are at this time of life {about where I am :frowning: } could leave a practitioner somewhat vulnerable…
I’m a firm believer in “If something aint broke don’t try n fix it” Not all chemical peels, microdermabrasion, dermabrasion, plastic surgery, hair transplants etc etc go the way that people want, some turn out disastrously. Peoples expectations aren’t always realistic and even perfect results don’t guarantee happiness because often times there’s a deeper reason that’s driving someone forward in pursuit of their own measure of perfection.
Pauses for breath puts on steel helmet :slight_smile:

I wouldn’t say at all that my skin is ruined; I still consider electrolysis the best money I have EVER spent, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Overall I have great skin and regularly am assumed to be 10 years younger than my real age. I think in my case I have a few small isolated areas of damage from over-treatment; I had a few electrolysis sessions where the operator stripped my upper lip completely and caused very severe swelling. I stopped using said practitioner because I noticed that I was having more swelling and even scabs after treatment, which is not something I considered “normal” considering my previous work.

I don’t expect “flawless” skin, but neither do I think I should have to live with skin damage and wrinkles if it can be corrected. I still have electrolysis treatments on other areas with no problems, and am thrilled with the result. I still heartily recommend electrolysis, though based on my own experience I advise choosing a practitioner carefully to avoid over-treatment or problems down the road.

I have damage to my upper lip from just 3 30 min sessions of electrolysis. My question to you is, how often were you having the upper lip removed and how far apart were the sessions? I had beautiful skin above my lip except for the hair until electrolysis. Its only been four months but there hasn’t been much improvement on color or texture. I want to cry everytime I look in the mirror. Not only do I still have hair but also hyperpigmentation and two lines have formed.

Follizap. My hyperpigmentation could not be avoided. Its just the way I’m programmed. Yes the levels were too high for using the lauriers and well they take getting time to get used to as was even the case with Josefa. Give yourself a break. Lol if it was anyone else they probably would have dug the hole for you…not because your work was bad but because they are not the client they said they were… As it stands it was myself and I’m glad I continued treatments as your kill rate is same as the great Spanish lady. With regards face…I think electrologists should err on the reducing discomfort after effects as its such a area that is visible all the time. With regards body it’s a complete different story. To most anyway. I don’t care much about wrinkles, one immutable truth is that we will all get old. Wrinkles will appear continuously and old age will take over. This the way we are programmed. I say change what you can that causes you distress…but don’t try and change something you know you have no control over. Let it be.