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Electrology 3000For over 20 years, Texas has been a destination for people seeking intensive electrolysis for facial hair clearing, especially those averse to pain. Electrology 2000 was founded by Ruthann and Bren Piranio in 1986, and in 2006, the company reorganized under new management as Electrology 3000. While customers are almost unanimously happy, several drawbacks include:
Article by Catherine, a satisfied client
Hair Removal for Cowards-on-a-Fast-Trak: Electrology 2000 in Dallas, Texas
Face it: Facial hair is among the more conspicuous secondary sex characteristics, and getting rid of it is a nightmare. It hurts, its expensive, its embarrassing, its horribly painful, and it seemingly takes forever. Why else would there be such hoopla (and such misinformation and greed!) over quick-fix facial-hair solutions such as the various lasers, radio-frequency electrolysis, magical creams, and the like? I had my facial hair removed almost entirely at Electrolysis 2000, a privately held company located outside of Dallas, Texas. In recent months, I've read a lot of controversy and gross misinformation spreading among TS's (what's new?) about E-2000 and their procedures -- although almost always from individuals who had no personal experience with the company. I thought it might be worth sharing my first-hand experience after having gone through the E-2000 program nearly from start-to-finish. I have no financial interest whatsoever in this company, and only wish to share my insight and experience.
Hair Removal Alaska-Style
I did most of my transition while living in the wilds of Alaska. There is a well-known shortage of women in Alaska -- I was just trying to help even the male::female ratio out. Ahem. In my town, we had only one electrologist and, like most of us living in the wilderness, she had learned to improvise. Her thermolysis machine was a contraption she'd assembled with a snowmobile battery, some copper wires and a couple of salmon hooks as probes. Well, it wasn't quite that bad, but you get the picture. I was frustrated at the number of hours "under the needle" each week, the high rate of regrowth (and, therefore, multiple zappings of a single follicle), and my pain threshold was very low. I also was experiencing some significant pitting of my skin, which only showed up weeks or months after the sessions. Desperate to avoid any more of this trauma (but absolutely determined to rid myself of facial hair forever), I started making serious inquiries into alternate means, including a "new" hair removal method using a laser beam (cool!). For more, see the extensive information under lasers, and my comments on my experiences with SoftLight at the Washington Institute for Cosmetic Laser Surgery. Suffice here to say that, having spent time and money on laser hair-removal, I am convinced it is not a permanent technique. I do not recommend anyone investing large sums of money into this evolving (but still non-permanent!) technology at the present time. It will not fix your problem, I promise! Frustrated with the weekly electrology sessions, and disappointed with the money largely wasted on lasers, I contacted Electrology 2000 in Dallas. This article shares my experiences with E-2000, describes the procedure they use, summarizes my opinions on the advantages and disadvantages of going this route, and outlines what you can expect during a typical session. I then give some hints for staying on schedule with the E-2000 folks and offer a few practical recommendations.
About Electrology 2000
Electrology-2000 is located in Carrollton, Texas, a rather small suburb of Dallas. The company facility is housed in a small office complex that also includes offices for dentistry, a chiropractor, and several physicians. The E-2000 offices are pleasant and have a nice atmosphere. The electrology rooms are similar to the examining rooms in a dental office, including the reclining chair and bright spotlights you know as a dental patient. In fact, the company is managed by Ruthann Piranio and Dr. Jo Bren Piranio, a licensed dentist who left a family dentistry practice to develop E-2000. The electrology techniques used were primarily developed by Ruthann Piranio. Eight or so certified medical electrologists, all trained at E-2000, are employed by the company. The entire staff is friendly, fun, and quite accepting of TS clients in whatever stage of their evolution. Ruthann and Bren are both very wonderful people when they're not sticking some needle or other into your face. (Bren is also a kamikaze rock 'n roll guitarist!)
I think the success of E-2000 revolves around these aspects of their treatment program:
These were all important factors in my decision to go this route. Having my face completely cleared at single, marathon appointments greatly appealed to my obsessive-compulsive personality disorder. Note this may take 3 or 4 days (or more!) if you're just starting out or have a high-density facial hair pattern. To accomplish this clearing, typically two electrologists treat you (yes, at the same time!) during all-day sessions. Now, this is not for the faint of heart, but it's fast! I experienced little, if any, regrowth from any treated follicles -- which was NOT my experience with other electrologists. I think the high kill-rate is a result of the skill of these electrologists as well as their procedure. In addition, E-2000 uses only insulated probes. I've come to believe there is merit in the claim that the insulated probe delivers most of its energy directly to the base of the follicle, while shielding tissue along the flanks of the follicle. I think this contributes to the low regrowth rate and protects against scarring. Indeed, I doubt the skin could tolerate the trauma of so large an area being treated at once were it not for these probes, coupled with the skill of the E-2000 electrologists. (For dissenting thoughts on different probes, see the discussion of probe types, above.)
Before I mislead you into thinking that going this route makes electrology a breeze, you should consider these (sobering) observations:
These were serious considerations for me. I was faced with flying from Alaska and Washington to Texas just for electrology sessions. Try as I might, I could think of no other compelling reason to visit Texas, especially during the summer. Or in the winter. Or Spring... So, in addition to the time and trauma of cross-continent flight, the expense of air-travel (and hotels and meals) must be added to the cost of the treatment. I also worried about the trauma to my skin from the sheer intensity of so much zapping occurring at the same time. There is significant swelling (i.e., you will look like an idiot) for several days following treatment. Redness will last a week or longer, and I suspect it is a month or more before the skin has completely recovered.
Weighing the Advantages Vs. Disadvantages
Given the positives and negatives, why did I decide to go this route? Its simple: I hated electrolysis with a passion! I decided that I simply didn't want to live for a year or more of weekly electrology sessions, and that I couldn't tolerate the pain. I HATED electrolysis. I mean, I REALLY hated it. I have some friends who seemed to breeze through unscathed, but as far as I'm concerned the entire ordeal is nothing but a horrible medieval torture -- the very definition of Cruel and Unusual Punishment. I tried everything: smeared gallons of EMLA topical anesthetic on my face and covered my head with Saran Wrap, swallowed Vicodin by the bottle, froze my face with ice, and tried various other sedatives to lessen the pain of having an electrical current sufficient to cauterize the blood supply to a hair follicle -- and it still hurt! Plus, the idea of growing facial hair to prepare for this torture weekly was anathema to my ego. The most compelling advantage to me was that my face would be anesthetized (by Lidocaine injection), and I would escape the pain. NOW, motivated by my fear of the probe, I rationalized away the other disadvantages thus: I figured the lack of regrowth and efficiency of the entire E-2000 procedure may even out the costs somewhat compared to going around the corner to your local electrologist weekly. I've never done the arithmetic to see if this is correct, but I'm certain the superficial financial impact is lessened somewhat by not having to pay for multiple treatments of the same follicles. Moreover, I wanted this electrolysis torture over! Face it: You've got to be crazy (or a TS -- or both -- or is it the same thing?) to put yourself through this! For me, going to E-2000 was simply the fastest way -- by far -- to get it all done as quickly as possible, as painlessly as possible. So, I went out and bought an airline ticket. To Texas.
Rumors About Tissue Damage and Scarring
In various posts around the internet, I've seen a few reports that some patients suffered scarring and pitting from E-2000. These have invariably been from individuals who had only "heard" that scarring was common from treatment. I did see one on-line posting from an electrologist who claimed two of her clients had "disfiguring scars" from going to E-2000. I inquired by email, but got no response, and the post has since disappeared. Therefore, I have no way to evaluate these claims of tissue damage, except to note that I've yet to read an account of anyone who experienced scarring themselves. Again, I can only report my experience. I had virtually no pitting or scarring, and my skin recovered from each treatment without complication (except for the few days of looking like an idiot, which I mentioned earlier). This was not my experience with other electrologists. I typically had petechiae, with small scabs and crusts that formed two or three days after treatment with every electrologist except the E-2000 folks. I had no scarring or pitting from all the E-2000 work I've had completed. I've also talked with a dozen or so others I've met who've had their facial hair removed at E-2000, and without exception they experienced no scarring and were pleased with the results. So, until I hear from someone directly with personal experience, I conclude that the claims of pitting and scarring from E-2000 are very likely not true.
Advice is Cheap
If you decide to go this route, here are a few suggestions that might make things easier:
Other women share their experiences
The following articles are presented verbatim, with some very minor editing. Emphasis is mine. Another satisfied client writes of her experience:
No pain, no gain. How often I've heard that statement ! It seems many people think that electrolysis is a test of their commitment, and by enduring pain will validate their claims of gender dysphoria. There are too many other pains to deal with, this doesn't have to be one of them. EMLA cream is only effective on some, not all. It also has to be applied properly to work. If it hasn't worked for you and your pain threshold is low, fear not. At Electrology 2000 injections of lidocaine provide painless electrolysis. There is a little from the injection, so I guess 99 percent painless is more accurate. Time factor...is another plus. They recommend six visits, at six weeks between each visit. At this point your face is virtually hairless. After five visits approximately 90 percent of my hair is gone. This means you won't have to plaster your face with make-up, to hide your shadow for the two long years it normally takes. If you have an average face it will require approximately 35-45 hrs for the first visit. Plan on being there a week. The time goes down dramatically after the second visit. The fifth visit took about 10 hours to clear my face. They say an average face requires about 100 hours. Mine has required 95 hrs, including the fifth visit. The sixth would require about 8 hours. Their estimates are accurate. The less facial hair you have, the less time it takes. What does it cost. As of March 1994, the rate was $88.00 hr. Wait a minute...I know what you are thinking, only rich people can afford that. I too thought that. Remember, it normally takes three treatments at $30.00 to $60.00 per hour. Assume you pay $30.00 hr X 3 treatments = $90.00 hr. Initially the $30.00 hr is appealing, but in the end...it's another story. Travel expense will add some to the final cost. As of 1993, this was still deductible on your federal income tax, under medical. The electrolysis is also deductible. Save your receipts folks !. To deduct this you will need a considerable sum, to meet the deductible. Another reason not to stretch out the electrolysis time, or it will be a 100 percent out of pocket expense. You only receive a small percentage back, but it's better than nothing. I wrote this article so others with electrolysis problems know there is an alternative, and to put a little something back into the T* community that I have benefited from. Most people disbelieve the results that E-2000 achieves. All I can say is, mirror...mirror on the wall. It tells all! I do not receive compensation for this from Electrology 2000, in case you wondered. I try to return a favor when one is given, and I have nothing but praise for the people at E-2000. They are 101 percent understanding, and make you feel at home. That sure means a lot, when you're 1500 miles from home.
I just got back yesterday afternoon from Dallas, where I'd been at E2000 since Wednesday. As some of you may know, I've been something of an electro queen up here in Boston. I did recently have to tally up all the hours I've done locally for a financial disclosure in my divorce. I refuse to tell you the number! It's just too embarrassing! Let's just say that if I'd been flying a plane, I'd be instrument rated for the Space Shuttle by now. All the electrolysis I had ever had done before always left my skin raw, sore, oozing, scabbing, peeling, dry, inflamed. And it hurt like crazy! A couple months ago I was out in San Francisco to see Dr. Ousterhout for a price quote on a brand new head. Oh, my! Did he read me the riot act on the scarring he saw I was getting from electro! "From now on, you're on a plane to Dallas!" That had me _very_ upset, for a whole lot of reasons, not the least of which is that when you've spent a lot of time with someone, even if you do find out later they were cratering your face, you form an attachment, sort of like Patty Hearst, I guess. I honestly was sick to my stomach at the thought of telling my electrologists what Dr. O had said! It really undercut my confidence in my ability to make good decisions to know that I'd screwed up and let someone scar me. I was upset as all hell at the prospect that now that it had been pointed out (some orange peel dimpling), I'd have to look at my disfigurement the rest of my life. And finally, I was depressed at the lost time, especially thinking of how booked up E2000 is, months and months in advance. No kidding, all of this really bummed me out for several days. Things have not turned out so bad, though Dr. O's admonition was a wake-up call I did need. I did tell my electrologists I wasn't going to be using them anymore, at least on my face. (But after E2000, I won't use my local electrologists at all anywhere on my body ever again.) I started microdermabrasion treatments (also called a "power peel") on the areas of scarring. I've had three treatments out of the 10 suggested and the results have been remarkable. Before heading out to E2000, microdermabrasion had already nearly erased any visible marks except in one little area under my mouth where you could still sort of tell if you looked closely. It had also started erasing wrinkles and a few large pores and other assorted reminders that I'm not 25 anymore. Scheduling E2000 was difficult, but not, it turned out, for the reason you think. I _was_ able to get onto their calendar easily enough by gently pestering about every week or so to ask about new cancellations; the worst part was that they really do not want you to have _any_ other electrolysis on the area you want them to work on for a minimum of 3 months to allow a complete growth cycle. (Actually, I went just over two before this appointment.) What I found in that two months was that I had FAR MORE beard than I expected! My electrologists up here in Boston had kept me clear, but not by killing all that much. They did it by treating me constantly. When that stopped, I had a LOT, perhaps a good 30% of what started as a beard from hell, coming back! This week at E2000 was nothing short of incredible. Give me credit, I do know what ordinary electrolysis is like, I can deal with the pain, been there, done that, blah, blah, blah. Trust me, you do not want to waste time with anything but E2000. What can I say? There's no convert like a new convert. So, hey, I got religion! But I think I saw a miracle. They started Wednesday with two electrologists working on me and, in that first day, totally cleared my upper lip and most of my cheeks and sideburns. The next day, they almost finished my entire beard and did finish it the next morning. Over the remaining day and half, we did South Pole and assorted body parts. When I say they cleared an area - this is the incredible part - I mean they got _everything_! There's not a hair left on my face that's not supposed to be there. They got all the ingrowns that had been bugging me for months as bumps too deep in my skin for me or my local electrologists to get. They got EVERYTHING! I have never, ever been this clear. But it goes beyond that. My skin is as smooth and soft as my 8-year-old son's. There are almost no marks anywhere. You can't see where the hairs were. My face feels quite supple, not at all dry. There's some residual tingling from the anesthetics but no pain, no scabbing, no flaking, no rawness whatsoever, only a little general redness. It looks like I never had a beard. I did swell to enormous proportions but even that has been quickly dissipating. I am blown away. The whole thing was quite painless. The only part that hurt at all were the Lidocaine injections Bren would do every few hours wherever they were working. And with the number of injections Bren's done over the years, she's definitely gotten pretty good so even that's not at all bad. (Bren claims to buy Lidocaine by the gallon and I do not doubt her for a moment! They do go through a LOT of it on you over the course of a visit.) Mostly, I'd just put my headphones on with a good CD and go to sleep 'till Bren came in to wake me up for another numbing. Or sometimes, I'd just watch TV (they have TVs and VCRs in every room and an enormous tape library) while they worked. As I said, scheduling turned out not to be so much of a problem as I'd expected. If you call E2000 on any random day, you learn that they're booked up somewhere into the next century. But, and I know this will be a shock, it turns out some TS are flakes. I know, hard to believe, isn't it? Well, it's true, and others just run into problems through no fault of their own, scraping up the money or getting away for several days at a stretch, etc. So E2000 does get cancellations. You just have to be able to make up your mind right then and there, on the spot, when one opens up whether you can do it. This visit was a cancellation. It was a block of time that opened up on 13 days' notice. I couldn't take the first day as that was the difference between a $1300 and a $205 plane ticket but I grabbed the rest. The rest of my appointments are also mostly other people's leftovers and cancellations but out of that, we found quite enough time in Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar and Apr. (I skip Nov as I'll have just had facial surgery and can't be worked on that soon.) On one level, I say I should have done this a year ago. But a year ago, I was trying to salvage my marriage and thought it would cause more problems if I disappeared for a week at a time than if I just got the work done an hour or two at a time while the kids were in school and my wife was at work. Mostly, I just didn't believe E2000 could be that different. (It is!) But I try to live without dwelling on regret. I made the best decisions I could at the time. But I wouldn't ever do or recommend anything but E2000 from now on.
I think it's important to know that the advantages it has over every other place I looked into go way beyond the anesthesia that allows for longer treatments. I am an E2000 patient, but I am only about a third done with treatment. I would switch in a minute if I thought there was a more appropriate place to go. After all, we're talking about my face here. So here is why I picked E2000.1) First and foremost, for all sorts of technical reasons like insulated and flexible probes, E2000 patients apparently have no scarring. None. Zip. None of those little tiny pittings or whatever they're called that too many T folks acquire. I certainly have nothing like that yet. 2) The technique the technicians are trained in also results in both no scarring and in less regrowth. E2000 zapped hairs, from all I can learn from others, just do not ever regrow. 3) Long, multi-day sessions are great for my schedule and my desire to hurry the process along. Their ability to offer these long sessions is partially a result of the local anesthesia, but also a result of their philosophy and scheduling policies. 4) I learned once I began treatment that these are really great people, and if you are going to spend four straight days with two people right in your face, they better be good people. And if you're going to give folks a zillion times more money than your parents spent on your braces, they should be good people. 5) Their practice is now almost entirely transgender focused and that is good for lots of reasons, but mostly because it makes it a very comfortable place for me to have this kind of thing done.Though I'm glad E2000 uses anesthesia, I think I would probably get my treatments there anyway. The only downside I can see for me is that they are in Dallas. Their hourly rates are higher than most other places I've heard of, but judging from other people's experiences, their somewhat high-ish fees ($88/hr. I think) average out over the course of treatment into the same ballpark with other places because there is less regrowth.
Another client mentions a couple of issues she had:
Electrology 2000, great people, but in 2 of 3 sessions, I left with a noticeable asymmetry of my remaining facial hair (beard shadow) which was embarrassing. P.S. They need to advise new clients of the facial swelling and weeping which result from intensive electrolysis)
Another client has similar concerns:
I still really think E2000 is the way to go, but there are some shortcomings that prospective clients should know about. Their scheduling is really starting to get annoying for a lot of folks. They are now pretty much booked (maybe entirely) until next February or March [over 12 months --AJ]. That is obviously not their fault, but, from a marketing standpoint, it's a product problem they need to think about. But please allow me to comment on the other two issues--swelling and asymmetrical growth. When I re-read your page about E2000, which I first read many months ago, I was a baffled by the description of minor swelling or whatever it said. Anyone who has been there on anyone's first day knows that the swelling is actually and honestly frightening. My face for instance, and I've seen others look the same, was several times its normal size for several days, noticeably swollen for several weeks, and red/pink for a month or so. The second and third days it wasn't merely swollen, it was terrify-the-children, scary swollen. Someone I have spoken with compared the look to a Planet of the Apes thing. Very apt. Walking through the airport to leave Dallas is horrendous with people, many people, staring in sympathy or fear or disgust. I don't think I'm exaggerating. Sure, it does get better, and I think is worth it, but I certainly wasn't warned sufficiently. And I do worry about people misinterpreting the official description (the same I was given on the phone and in person) as meaning that hardly anyone will notice next week at work. They definitely will notice. As for the asymmetrical clearing, I think this is maybe a more recent problem caused somewhat by the scheduling issues. I gather that people going to E2000 are sometimes not starting out with full face clearing sessions because they would have to wait for as much as year. So they take schedule scraps for their first few trips just to get started. My first full clearing actually took multiple trips to Dallas. And for efficiency's sake, the technicians seem to resist spreading the work around the face, so you can end up leaving with very dramatic and noticeable growth lines that stay with you until your next visit. Mine were so dramatic, especially compared with the areas that they had cleared so well, that I had to start shaving twice per day because by mid-afternoon, my face looked ridiculous and people would comment. I know of two other people with this same complaint.
Someone else weighs in:
Another reader writes in 2001:
Another reader writes:
From a reader in September 2003
After reading some speculation and hearsay on the internet (imagine that!), I wrote to E-2000 co-owner Bren Piranio on April 5, 1998, to ask about E-2000's genital electrolysis policy, specifically if they do genital clearing on clients who have not done facial work at E-2000. Bren wrote back "We are beginning to, only for those who are transsexuals scheduling surgery, and the rate is $155/ hour, due to the difficulty of the work. This was at the electrologist's request due to the difficulty of the work, not just because it is what it is. It is the genital rate for all such work"-- in other words, for clients who did no other work at E-2000, or clients who did all their work at E-2000.
Bren adds that total genital treatment time "may vary from person to person and with the design required by your surgeon, yet it may be a range from 4-8 hours on the average. Not everyone is average-- the cycle time is still 12 months as is true for all genital area work."
As with other body areas, E-2000 numbs the genitals with injected anesthetic prior to treatment. Some people who have undergone genital clearing felt this was the only way to make it bearable, although others found it bearable with just EMLA or (in one case I know) even nothing at all.
The above information is part of my genital hair removal page.
SA in TX shares this experience of her genital (or "South Pole") electrolysis at E-2000:
E-2000's General Information letter (1997)
Bren sent me the following information about their service. I quote it in its entirety (emphasis mine):
I also asked about E-2000's policy on inside ears and nose. Bren wrote back, "Ears as far as is accessible. Sometimes the angles we need to access the deeper, inturned follicles require a hole through your head, which we usually avoid."
Using E-3000 to supplement regular sessions
Some have supplemented trips to E-3000 with regular electrolysis. One woman writes she had 62 hours at E-3000, and then had 130 hours of conventional treatment. Some do their initial clearing there, then keep up with regrowth elsewhere. This seems like a prudent move for those in a hurry to go full-time. The more electrolysis you have done prior to transition, the better, no matter where you do it.
Thanks to everyone who shared their experiences! You may reach E-3000 at: