The information on this page is written for a transsexual audience. For a general market discussion of electrolysis, please visit: hairfacts.com


Choosing an electrologist

Choosing an electrologist will be the most important factor in how long completion takes, how much it costs, how comfortable treatment is, and how your skin fares.

How to choose

For general info, check out hairfacts.com for more tips on choosing an electrologist.

Get the recommendation of local transgender women who are done and are happy. Meet them in person if possible and see how their face looks. Usually there is consensus in a town or area about who is the best person to see. If you don't know any transgender women, try calling your local transgender social or support group. Get a copy of their newsletter-- there will probably be an ad or two for local gender-friendly electrologists.

For a good list of resources by state, gender.org has electrologist listings.

I have also compiled a Directory of TG-recommended electrologists. This information has been provided by others, so I can't verify the accuracy or results of those listed. You'll need to check that out youself, but I hope this directory can help point you in the right direction.

If you're having no luck with this route, ask some non-TS women. Physicians, department stores, salons, and hospitals may also do electrolysis-- check those options. I don't know of any personally, but I have read of people who will come to your home to do electrolysis as well.

If you don't want anyone's advice (a habit you should rid yourself of if you plan to have a smooth transition), try the yellow pages. Generally, the bigger the ad, the more expensive. You can explain your situation over the phone or wait till you get there. A lot of places offer a free consultation. In fact, some won't give out much information over the phone, preferring to speak with you in person about your goals and their procedures.

"Gender-friendly"

Most electrologists shouldn't have a problem treating you. Transsexuals make good business sense for them, since they are very dedicated and will be spending much more than genetic female clients. If you're meeting with resistance, you might provide them with information about transsexualism to put them at ease. However, you should be going to someone with TG experience if at all possible, anyway.

Just because an electrologist is "gender friendly" enough to work on you does not mean he or she understands how special male facial hair removal can be. Be sure to get someone with experience unless you like to be a guinea pig.

Qualifications

  • They should have a certification from a school or a professional group, and a state license if the state requires one. The two most common national certifications are:
    • CPE (Certified Professional Electrologist) a certification governed by the AEA (American Electrology Association)
    • CCE (Certified Clinical Electrologist), a certification governed by the Society of Clinical and Medical Electrologists through their affiliate the National Commission for Electrologist Certification.
    • There are other certifications like RE (Registered Electrologist), and other groups like the International Board of Electrologists. In fact, one of the problems with certification is that it's not standardized, so training varies a great deal. Half the states have no certification requirement, while some require up to 2100 hours of training. Electrologists should have a current, dated certificate on display, and they should be a graduate of a qualified school of electrology. Instructors are even better. Keep in mind that certification does not mean good at male facial hair; your best bet is to find someone recommended by other transgender women, regardless of qualifications.
    • Check here for states that regulate the practice of electrology.
    • My electrologist friend Dawn writes about these organizations: "None of them count for much... you pay them money and they will make you part of their group. The only thing that counts is that they are licensed by the state in which they operate. If there is no licensing requirements, you have no idea if that person is even trained. Believe me, those other groups are only out for yearly dues... they are not a controlling power for anyone and should not be used to gauge the quality of your electrolysist."
  • Their office should be sanitary and private. Most larger ones have booths or rooms, although smaller ones may have just one room. The work area should be as sterile as a doctor's office.
  • Many electrologists are reluctant to give a guestimate of how long your treatment will take, especially before they've seen how you respond to treatment. You might ask to get a ballpark idea of how heavy your facial hair is and the length of treatment they've seen in similar cases. Keep in mind they are just making an estimate, and that your compliance to their recommended treatment routine will affect the outcome. Some may decline to give you an exact number, simply because there are too many variables-- that's why this thing you're reading is so long.
  • Their electrolysis machines should be newer models or regularly serviced.
  • You should discuss what modality they prefer to use.
  • Their schedule should fit yours: do they have evening hours? weekend appointments?
  • They should tell you how many transgender clients they have worked on. You should ask if you can speak to a client if you haven't already.
  • If more than one electrologist works there, will you always be seeing one person? If not, find out the credentials of others who may be working on you.
  • They should be able to answer all questions to your satisfaction.

What to look for during treatment

While you are getting treatment, the following things should occur:

  • You should never have the feeling that a hair is being tweezed during treatment.
  • Electrologist should wash hands before and after each treatment.
  • The Center for Disease Control recommends electrologists use disposable gloves during treatments. Many also use masks. This is more for their protection than yours, but it also protects you against infection and the possibility of disease.
  • Treatment tables should be sanitized or appropriately redraped with paper or linen before each treatment.
  • Equipment should be sterilized in an autoclave, and disposable probes should be used only once.
  • You should get along. This is one of the most important points. You are going to spend many, many hours with this person six inches from your face. This person will also be holding what some might call a 19th-century torture device in his or her hand, so it pays to be nice. Pick someone who you can talk to for hundreds of hours and still find interesting things to talk about. Someone who likes the same kind of music to play in the background helps also.
  • If you have a question-- ask your electrologist first. You should feel as if you can trust him or her. If you aren't satisfied with the answer, then start asking around.
  • It can help to think that you are a team working together toward a common goal, since it's very important to have a good rapport and an atmosphere of trust.

Take a break?

Some have suggested that if you can, you should take a break for a few weeks after a few months of treatment to evaluate your progress and your electrologist's effectiveness. If treatment is judged to be ineffective, then a change should be made either in electrologist or in the method of treatment (e.g., blend instead of thermolysis, or a significant change in the intensity and/or duration of the current). However, this is often impractical, especially for those who choose to start electrolysis after going full-time. If you are going to an electrologist experienced with TG women and getting treatment at the highest levels you can take, a break in treatment might slow your progress too much to be worth stopping.

Again, if you have done the footwork and have chosen well when you start, you should stick with your electrologist's recommended treatment schedule and trust him or her to be doing the best job possible.

Check out hairfacts.com for more tips on choosing an electrologist.


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1996-2001 A.J. James. All rights reserved.

Last updated: June 23, 2001 .