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All posts for the month April, 2012

Letters From The Edge Of Blogspace: Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation

Published April 12, 2012 by Christine

Had my first session of laser therapy today. Since transition, one thing has been bugging me and really getting me down, and that is my facial hair. The only way to hide it is to use lots of makeup. I have, over time, managed to get the amount of foundation used down to a minimum, this because I am able to shave very close (Hydro5 razor, the only one I will use). The biggest problem with laser therapy has always been cost. It’s not hugely expensive compared to many other cosmetic treatments but has usually remained out of my financial reach, due to a lack of a job at the moment. Two weeks ago, that changed, temporarily, for the better. I received a reasonably sized cheque from HMRC as a tax rebate! It couldn’t have come at a better time. Out of the money I kept aside enough to have five laser sessions. Once the Easter weekend was out of the way I made the appointment, which was the next day (Wed 11th). The laser specialist I had booked with had been recommended by a friend who’d nearly finished her course. The place is in North West London (Belsize Park) and is in a small mews with free parking. Maria, the operator, has ten years experience and is also a Registered Nurse.

After meeting us at reception, Maria took us into the treatment room and told us all about it. I had done my research and had also been told many things by several girlfriends of mine, especially the one who’d recommended Maria. The pro’s: fast, effective from day 1, few treatments, cheaper (more expensive per session than electrolysis but fewer sessions required) and the cons: painful, more side effects (skin reddening, hair shedding), painful, further to travel (in my case), painful, smelly (due to burning hair) and painful. The first thing to be done was the application of the EMLA cream. This is an anaesthetic cream which is applied an hour before treatment begins, hence the longer sessions than electrolysis, (EMLA: Eutectic Mixture of Local Anaesthetics). She applied the cream for me and then covered me in cling film to prevent it from sliding off and drying. She only does this the first time, unless you ask her to do it each time. In future sessions I can provide my own EMLA and arrive early to apply it. It makes her sessions quicker. She told me to remain lying down for the hour the cream takes to work to stop it from running off my top lip and chin, as these are the two most sensitive area’s. So for an hour I tried to read a Marie Claire while lying flat on my back. You don’t realise how heavy that magazine is after five minutes! So I went on my phone’s internet browser. At half an hour I was bored.com. Tracey went out to get something to eat as both our tummies were rumbling. Of course I couldn’t eat since my lower face was covered in cling film so I just had to sit and listen to Tracey eating. Once the hour was up Maria returned. She removed the cling film, applied the cooling gel, then the ice, put on safety goggles for both myself and Tracey, lowered her safety glasses, fired up the £64,000 Lightsheer Laser and asked me if I was ready.

I said “Yes” and immediately found out the reason behind the EMLA cream. Imagine someone with a cricket bat, studded with hundreds of red-hot pins, hitting your face as hard as possible….. That would actually be quite pleasant in comparison. The pain was, to put it bluntly, intense. How someone could have this treatment on this area without EMLA is beyond me. I was constantly on the verge of stopping her and asking for a general anaesthetic, but something stopped me. There was also an intense smell of burning hair.  She did both sides of my face first, repeating certain areas where there were stubborn hairs then did the chin, which was more painful. The neck area I barely felt at all, but then came the top lip. Before doing this Maria stopped and let me catch my breath. Tracey came over and held my hand. When Maria started on the top lip, Tracey shared some of my pain. The pain was so intense I nearly crushed Tracey’s hand. Every muscle in my body tensed as I dealt with the pain. Then it was over. It felt like hours but, in reality, it was only about twenty or thirty minutes. Maria wiped all the gunk away and told me to look in the mirror. I did so. What I saw stunned me into silence. I felt like crying with joy. Where there had been a grey, stubbly face looking back, there was now a clean, clear, (but red and blotchy), more feminine face staring at me. It was then it really hit me: My journey to womanhood was real. This was really happening. The pain had made it real; a real, physical, irreversible change had taken place, whereas everything else had  taken on an ethereal, waiting quality, only giving glimpses of what was to come. The etherealness had dissipated, as a  light mist in a breeze and what had previously been hinted at was now coming, and I now felt prepared.

I washed with cold water and baby wipes to remove the remaining hairs stuck to my face. One of the effects of such a powerful laser is that the hairs literally jump out of the follicle. The laser heats the root of the hair which then explodes, blasting the hair out of the follicle. Some still stay in and work their way out over 10-12 days. This is what makes the skin go red and blotchy for several hours. I couldn’t wear makeup for at least twenty-four hours but, since my main reason for wearing makeup was to hide the beard, I wasn’t worried. If anything I was pleased. I will still have to wear some foundation as there are dormant hairs remaining which further treatments will remove but, I shouldn’t have to wear as much. (Not that I wore a great deal in the first place.)

The after-effects are somewhat minimal, limited to: short-term redness, (already gone), hair shedding over 10-12 days, possible spot breakouts in the treated areas, (I’m used to this since this tended to happen before treatment, as anyone who knows me can attest to), and having some very expensive razors sitting around doing nothing, although they may get used as the dormant hairs become active before the next treatment. Having just looked in the mirror I can see the spots starting already but since I have nothing important on, I won’t worry, and since they are very small they should be quite well hidden if I use a little foundation.

I will admit to nearly rear-ending several other vehicles on the way home from London, due to constantly looking in the mirror! This is only natural, (that’s my excuse and I am sticking to it). My next appointment is in a months time and, despite the pain, I am looking forward to it.

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