Electrolysis and Gender-Affirming Hair Removal

Treatments that permanently remove unwanted hair growth can be life-changing for those undergoing gender transitions. Electrolysis is one example of a hair removal practice that serves as gender-affirming care for members of the transgender community.

The Skin Report is a podcast created to educate listeners on methods to improve skin health for people of all ethnicities and ages. On this episode, host Dr. Sethi continues her two-part interviews with Nicole of Nicole’s Electrolysis. Nicole provides professional and personalized electrolysis services for all hair and skin types and has expertise in electrolysis and gender-affirming hair removal practices. Thanks to her profession and personal experiences, Nicole shares her insights on electrolysis and its importance in the gender transition journey. She explains the electrolysis process, how insurance coverage works for patients seeking electrolysis, the importance of transgender medicine, and why she considers electrolysis medically necessary as a gender-affirming treatment.

As the founder of RenewMD Beauty Medical Spas and a woman of color, Dr. Sethi knows the importance of using safe and effective methods for your hair and skin. So expand your skincare knowledge by tuning in to this informative episode! And check out Nicole’s Electrolysis, located within RenewMD Beauty and Wellness Medical Spa.

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This transcript was exported on June 7, 2023 -view latest version here.

Skincare can sometimes feel overwhelming. Whether it’s finding the right products, ingredients, or treatments, there’s a lot out there, but not always for people of African, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, and Eastern South Asian descent. That’s why I set out to educate myself and others so that we can all feel beautiful in our skin. Hello, and welcome back to The Skin Report.

I’m Dr. Simran Sethi, an internal medicine doctor, mom of three, and CEO and Founder of Skin by Dr. Sethi, and RenewMD Medical Spas. Today we are continuing our conversation with Nicole, who is an expert in electrolysis and gender-affirming hair removal practices. What I’d like to talk a little bit about is the use of electrolysis when people are transitioning genders.

Because that is a scenario that I see in my medical aesthetic practice when we have someone transitioning from being a male to a female and they’re looking for treatment of excess hair growth, but they’re also undergoing hormone therapy, which has a lot of changes on skin. And then that laser hair removal is sometimes an option. Sometimes it’s an option on some parts of the body, not on others, and we do refer them for electrolysis. I would like for you to tell me a little bit about that.

The transgender community is one of my largest areas of service and it’s also one of my main specialties. I’ve been involved with or in the transgender community for many years now, and I have a deep interest in transgender medicine, and I consider electrolysis medically necessary and as a staple of transgender medicine in most cases.

Hair removal methods like electrolysis are necessary for gender-affirming care. According to the 2015 US Transgender Survey, nearly 90% of transgender people desire to undergo hair removal.

I see a lot of people coming in who have undesired facial hair and electrolysis. Like you said, laser doesn’t always compliment the type of hair maybe. But with electrolysis, it serves this community results and it serves them, sort of something what they’ve been working towards for a long time. It helps this community so much, and everyone is so grateful for the type of work I do because it can be hard to come by.

You’re right. Finding an electrologist that specializes in skin-tone-specific treatments, treatments for the transgender community, that is very difficult, and I’m sure you make people comfortable with your level of experience. Do you notice that they’re also undergoing a lot of skin changes, and does that affect the electrolysis treatment?

When someone begins transitioning they’ve started a journey, a long-term journey in most cases. And oftentimes that journey includes, like you said, taking medication and going through skin changes, going through a variety of changes, hair changes too. But with electrolysis, it sort of compliments these changes that they’re going through. I work together with those hormone changes and together we get those results and permanently remove that undesired hair, and cause life-changing results.

One of the things that when I’ve worked with individuals in the transgender community, one of the things that is of a concern is acne scarring. Because when anyone experiences a lot of hormone shifts, like we all do during puberty, acne becomes a bigger problem. And when you’re going through hormone therapy, you are going through such a big shift in hormones that breakouts and resultant scarring are a huge concern. Do you find that with electrolysis that you are having to work around a lot of blemishes and acne? How does that work if you have active breakouts and you also are undergoing electrolysis?

Pretty much the process when people have acne, or breakouts, or certain skin conditions, it works pretty much the same way with them as it would with pretty much everyone else. Electrolysis is a very mild, minimally invasive process, and it will have no consequence to their journey.

Perfect. So if somebody is undergoing electrolysis, let’s say on their face, they can still get facials, they can still use medical-grade skincare, for example, if they’re prescribed any for their acne, and scarring, and so forth?


Can they also do procedures like microneedling, or like Picosure laser, any kind of skin lasers that help with scarring at the same time?

They can absolutely continue with any type of medical processes that they’re going through for their skin. Electrolysis will be of no consequence to those treatments. And maybe you just want to wait a day or two, let the skin heal up before going through certain treatments.

Definitely. I would say that generally the rule of thumb is that if you are doing any kinds of treatments alongside your skin rejuvenation treatments that are used for acne scarring or pigmentation, give yourself a good week or two weeks in between so that your skin has ample time to be completely healed and avoid any kind of overstimulation. Nicole, tell us what inspired you to become an electrologist? Because as you described, working with people and working on every single little hair is a very detailed and labor-intensive job. What inspired you to go into this?

Yeah. Electrolysis is one of those things that just changed my life so much and it got me motivated. It got me so interested in this kind of obscure profession that is not always the most well known and how much of an impact it can make on people’s lives. I saw that through my own experience of having treatment. First I had the hair, and I remember being in high school and I would just touch the hair nonstop.

I would just feel it. I would feel gross. I would feel terrible about having that hair on my face, and I just wanted it gone. Then I met my electrologist, and I went through the journey, and I stuck with it. It made me a much more confident, much happier, more grateful person, and it kind of made me blossom into the person who I’d always wanted to be.

Nicole, when you were describing how electrolysis changed your life and how that inspired you, did you also find that your skin changed when you started doing electrolysis and had that definitive hair removal?

I was very fortunate to have met a skilled and excellent operator who was very friendly and very understanding of my personal situation. I had pretty much no skin changes, and my skin looks great after having treatment as it was meant to be.

Perfect. No, and that’s really important to recognize because I think that I have met people who’ve done electrolysis and they assumed that they had to sacrifice getting a little bit of scarring and pigmentation, or hypopigmentation because they were getting electrolysis. And so I’m glad that you’ve really debunked that.

From what you’ve described, it looks like electrolysis is quite comfortable. It is something that can be done by all skin tones, and no matter whether you have acne or menopausal, you can do electrolysis really at any stage.Then one last thing I’d like to ask you is the approximate cost of electrolysis and how do you determine the cost of treatment?

Yeah, that’s a great question. It varies widely because everyone has different types of hair. Everyone has different extensiveness of hair. So it matters on how much hair there is. And let’s say I’m clearing a full beard, that’s obviously going to be a little more expensive than just clearing someone’s upper lip. But in some cases, actually I do medical necessary work and I contract with insurance.So sometimes people can even get treatment just through their insurance provider. But for out-of-pocket costs, compared to the results of true permanency the cost is pretty minimal. But like I said, it varies widely person to person. But in the long term, I can’t see it being any more than, in most cases, like what laser hair removal would be.

If you were going to get laser hair removal for the face, you’re going to need about 10 to 12 sessions. And cumulatively that’s going to cost about, I would say about $3,000 over time. And if you took the number of times you go in and get threaded or waxed and the effects those have on your skin, it is far cheaper to actually do something like electrolysis and laser hair.

Yeah, I completely agree. I’ve had friends who have gone in, gotten waxing regularly, and you would not believe the bill that people pay for waxing. It’s so expensive. Then they go back every couple weeks, or sometimes more often. And going back to the very beginning, sometimes that can actually cause the hairs to become coarser and darker, and you’re not going towards any permanent solution. So every dollar that you spend with electrolysis is going towards that permanent journey.

Exactly. No, it’s something that you just have to look at it with a more long-term perspective. And then in the case of gender transitions, you did mention, and that is true, there are some insurers that will cover the cost of your electrolysis treatments and even laser hair removal treatments in some scenarios. So it is something to look into.

Yeah, working with insurance can be a very complicated process, but pretty much every major insurer, in Northern California specifically, I’d say they’re pretty on board. If you take the proper steps, it’s pretty certain that you can find someone to do contract work with them, or you can get reimbursement from the treatment that you’ve had.

Oh, okay. Excellent. Well, that is very important to know. Nicole, before we wrap up, is there anything else that you would like to tell us about the work you do and any last thoughts?Yeah. The most important thing that electrolysis has shown me is that how life-changing such a simple thing could be. You know, hair removal. It sounds kind of ridiculous. Like how could removing hair change someone’s life? But I’m telling you, it can. And it’s changed my life and it’s changed so many other people’s. So I’m just so grateful to be a part of this community and to be a part of people’s journeys.

No. I’m so glad you brought that up, Nicole, because you’re right. Laser hair removal, electrolysis, treatments for body sculpting or scars, fine-line wrinkles, they make people feel different. And not just look different, literally feel different. And it is something that, these sort of insecurities, they’re important to address because they do make a dramatic difference in your confidence. Nicole, what is the best way to find you?

The best way to find me is just check out my website. It’s nicoleselectrolysis.com. I’m located in Folsom, and my website will have all the essential information. It’s nicoleslectrolysis.com, once again. It’ll have my phone number. It’ll have my email address, and any information as well as any sort of other questions, common questions people might have. I have that information all on my website.

Nicole, thank you so much, and we will have a link to your website in the show notes. Again, thank you so much for taking the time to speak to me today.

Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

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Transcript by Rev.com