Ladies, being a woman is hard…period. Whether you are a cisgender woman or transgender there are so many things that go into looking feminine. I speak a lot about facial feminization surgery, but I want to touch on a topic that I don’t hear many people talking about. A huge part of looking feminine is having smooth and radiant skin. On a subconscious level, we view femininity as youthful. Part of looking youthful is having good skin quality that hasn’t worn the test of time with UV and free radical damage. The key is having a quality called luminescence. You want skin that will bounce light back into the eyes making them looker larger.
Many of my patients come in to see me to talk about surgery. Without addressing the skin; however, any surgery I do will just simply not look as good. If you are considering facial feminization surgery, but are planning for it down the road, now is the time to think about your skin. Think about it like prepping the skin for surgery, much like you would prepare a canvas for a masterpiece. Below are a few tips and tricks of the trade.
- Start a daily medical-grade skincare regimen
First things first, you need to wear sunscreen every single day. It doesn’t matter whether its cloudy, if you’re staying inside, or think that your makeup is enough coverage. You are still getting UV damage to your skin. The other essentials to use daily are a retinol in the evening to build collagen and an antioxidant vitamin C serum in the morning. There are some over-the-counter options in these categories, but medical-grade products penetrate deeper to give more dramatic results.
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- Get routine facials
Aestheticians can work magic with your skin when you feel like its hopeless. The key is not waiting until your skin is in dire need. Facials can be tailored to your particular skin, and can include dermaplaning, chemical peels, extracting blackheads, or any other technique to remove the daily grime and shrink pore size. This is important especially in acne-prone skin.
- Treat fine lines, scarring, and discoloration with microneedling and chemical peels
Minor damage to the skin can often be improved dramatically with less aggressive skin treatments. Over time, I have loved the combination of microneedling and a chemical peel at the same time. Microneedling prior to the peel creates microscopic channels to help the peel penetrate deeper to give the skin an overall shine. At my office, I carry a combination of different PCA Skin Peels that can treat any type of skin color. Each solution can be layered depending on the main skin concern.
- Improve deeper wrinkles with radiofrequency microneedling
One of my favorite treatments that I have added to the office recently is Morpheus8. I have been a fan of microneedling for years, but adding in radiofrequency takes this treatment to the next level. Not only does Morpheus8 treat wrinkles, it also tightens the skin. I like it in particular for the wrinkles under the eyes. Since you do not need eye protection with radiofrequency like you would with a laser, I can get closer to the eyelid margin and target that area much more aggressively. This is also my go-to treatment for neck lines that can be almost impossible to improve. Lastly, any scarring as a result of electrolysis can be improved with radiofrequency microneedling. About 2-3 treatments are generally needed for best results. The energy is pretty intense, but I have incorporated regional nerve blocks using lidocaine, and have also recently added nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to keep your comfort level to a maximum during a Morpheus8 session.
- Erase large pigmented areas with IPL
Sunspots and telangiectasias can occur on the face and body as you get older. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) is a technology that can be done with topical numbing cream in the office to even out skin color. It targets red and brown pigment to completely eliminate it. I’m rarely surprised by technology, but the Icon MaxG I brought to my office has been a game changer. My freckles have literally vanished! I find that coupling IPL and Morpheus8 completely change the color and texture of the skin. They can be done at the same time.
- Be consistent with hair removal
Hair removal is very important in creating a feminine face. It doesn’t matter how many hours of surgery I do, if there is an afternoon shadow people are likely going to use the wrong pronouns with you. The downside of all hair removal options is that it is super painful. I suggest starting with laser hair removal to get most of the hair, and finish out with electrolysis for gray or stubborn hairs. As with Morpheus8, I frequently do local nerve blocks with lidocaine, and have recently added nitrous oxide (laughing gas) for maximum patient comfort during these treatments. Concentrating on hair removal is good if you can’t afford surgery yet, since multiple sessions are needed (I usually say at least 6 if not more) to get rid of most of the hair in a particular area.
No matter where you are on your facial feminization journey, there are options that can start the process to get you to your aesthetic goals. I like to meet my patients where they are in their journey, and guide them through this whole process. Like I said, being a woman is hard as it is. There’s no need to go through it alone.
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