MTF consumers have attempted to remove heavy facial hair with all the major lasers and flash lamps, with widely varying success.
It is very unlikely you will be able to remove all your facial hair permanently with laser alone. Even those who have considerable success usually follow up with electrolysis.
Some MTF consumers have had nearly complete removal with just a few treatments. Others were still going in after 40+ sessions.
There is likely a point of diminishing returns with laser for MTF facial hair, meaning that if by about six treatments or so, you have probably reached the maximum benefit you will get from laser and will need to switch to electrolysis to remove the rest permanently. In patients with light skin and dark hair, it’s hard to predict a typical result. Operator skill and many variables will make it tough to predict outcomes until many more MTF consumers have completed laser treatment. A rough anecdotal estimate of results would probably be in the range of one-third to two-thirds of hair removed permanently after six sessions.
As with all consumers, those with light skin and dark hair can expect the best results, although this is not a guarantee of success.
It is absolutely essential to go to a practitioner with experience in dealing with male facial hair and MTF facial hair. Your choice of practitioner is probably much more important that the type of laser they use.
Having said that, anecdotal exidence suggests that some lasers may be more effective for this difficult task. It is extremely important that the laser used has a state of the art cooling system to help reduce side affects and allow for higher treatment levels.
Some practitioners working on MTF patients with very heavy dark hair suggest an initial pass at a lower fluence, due to the pain and possible skin damage that can occur when lasering very thick, dense, dark hairs.
The laser that has had the consistently best anecdotal reports of effectiveness are the alexandrite lasers with spray or contact cooling systems. Rubies and diodes have also had some good reports, and flash lamps and Nd:YAG have probably had the fewest good reports. Keep in mind that a few MTF consumers have reported unsatisfactory results with each of the lasers available, so there is no guarantee that laser will be effective.
The laser that has had the consistently worst anecdotal reports of side effects are the diode lasers. Side effects include blistering, pustules, burning, and discoloration and are typically from overtreatment at energy levels that are too high for the patient’s skin. Flash lamps have also had a lot of reports of side effects, followed by ruby, alexandrite, and Nd:YAG (long considered the safest and definitely the least effective).
If I were going to attempt laser (which I couldn’t because I have red hair), I’d probably use an alexandrite, but I’d make my first goal to find a practitioner recommended by a MTF consumer who is done and happy.
How to deal with MTF facial hair removal is one of only a handful of truly essential decisions in transition. Be sure to do your research and choose carefully. It will have a lasting impact on your appearance for the rest of your life, and it is often the procedure which will be noticed by others over anything else you do. Removing it quickly and completely at the onset of your transition should be one of the very first things you start doing.
Start now! You can never start soon enough on this. Ask anyone who has transitioned.
[ July 14, 2002, 01:19 PM: Message edited by: Andrea ]