Cosmetic Surgery, March 1991 - Chemical Peel


Many transwomen have good results using thermolysis or blend to remove hair. I did not. Proper equipment, sufficient training and experience are required to help minimize regrowth and, more importantly, prevent skin damage. The "thermo" in thermolysis refers to the heat it uses to roast the hair root and papilla, which can badly damage the skin if done wrong. By the time I switched to multiple-needle galvanic my face already had the appearance of a navel orange that had fallen off a farm truck. My skin had large unsightly pores and tiny patches of scar tissue near the right side of my mouth. So in March of 1991 I again raided my sex reassignment surgery fund and called Dr. Lawrence Foster (who did my boobs) to schedule a phenol chemical peel. Phenol is the most invasive chemical peel and takes the longest to heal.

Nothing could have prepared me for the recovery from the phenol peel. Within a few days my face was covered with a scabby crust. For over a week the skin oozed blood and sticky sebaceous fluid. Post-op instructions forbade me to go into the sun for six months without heavy sunscreen; those first few weeks I was to avoid any sunlight. As you can see I had plenty of reason not to leave my room for awhile. I took two weeks sick time from work, played Steve Vai's Flexable album over and over, worked on my sobriety and transition memoir, and slept sitting up for obvious reasons. I had to keep my face coated with Polysporin until all scabbing was gone (ten days), plus it was covered with surgical plastic wrap the first 48 hours after surgery. However the results were completely worth it! I easily lost ten years off my face.
48 hours
4 days
8 days
7 weeks

Cosmetic Surgery, March 2003 - Laser Resurfacing

October 2002

July 2003
So you may have cringed looking at the phenol peel above and wondered if that's all there is. There are milder peels, but the harsher the method, the more damage is erased. Laser resurfacing is an alternative, but it also looks scary and the healing is messy and uncomfortable. Twelve years after my phenol peel, time revealed residual scarring the phenol peel may have missed. There was also the damage caused by smoking (cigarettes). It was the one harmful drug I was still hooked on. I'd quit six weeks before my SRS and for a few months after, then again for my labiaplasty. It was time to stop smoking for good, especially with my hepatitis-C chemotherapy starting in June.

I had already stopped smoking for my labiaplasty the week before, so I was all set. My facial laser resurfacing was scheduled to coincide with when I would have downtime from the final stage of my SRS. (If was going to feel miserable, just do it all at once!) I got a ride to Northridge from a friend and did the usual preop: forms, surgical gown, bloodwork, starting the IV and a pre-op tranquilizer. Then I lay on the operating table and watched the needle push the anesthesia. I woke an hour later, oozing blood from where all my outer layers of skin had been burned away with the laser. As the below photos reveal, it's dramatic but the results were worth it. (Click on photos to the left to enlarge.)

6 hours
6 days
15 days
28 days
Cosmetic Surgery, June 1990