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Gender confirmation surgery refers to a range of different procedures that help people transition to their authentic gender identity. Over the years, the number of gender confirmation surgeries has continued to rise, with 1 in 4 transgender people undergoing at least one procedure. Taking this step in the transitioning journey can be significantly beneficial to mental and emotional wellbeing, self-esteem, and self-image.

Gender confirmation surgery is exciting — especially as you start to get closer to your desired results to reflect your gender identity. However, it’s completely normal to have anxiety or questions about what to expect, the results, and the overall experience. Knowing how to properly prepare for surgery will help relieve worries, give you a positive surgical experience, and reduce potential post-surgical complications.

Transitioning is a big life change, and preparing for your gender confirmation surgery can be daunting, but we’re here to help. Below we’ll discuss five tips to help you prepare for your gender confirmation surgery.

1. Have A Consultation For Gender Confirmation Surgery

The first step to help you properly prepare for your gender confirmation surgery is to have a consultation with a surgeon. A consultation is standard before having any medical procedure done and is an essential part of preparing for surgery and recovery. During your consultation, you will discuss your goals, your expectations, which procedures you’re interested in, and which procedures you would be a good candidate for.

There are a wide variety of different gender confirmation surgeries to help you achieve your desired results. A consultation allows you and your surgeon to discuss your long-term goals, decide which procedures will be right for you, and ask any questions that will help you properly prepare for your procedure. 

A few important questions to ask your surgeon during your consultation include:

  • What gender confirmation surgeries am I a good candidate for?
  • What do my desired surgeries involve?
  • What does the recovery process look like?
  • What are your medical credentials? What surgeries do you specialize in?
  • How can I best prepare for my surgery?

In addition to discussing what to expect during and after surgery, your surgeon should also discuss your current lifestyle and medications to create a pre-surgical plan.

During your consultation, you will also undergo a routine medical examination to ensure you don’t have any health conditions that would potentially put you at risk and disqualify you from surgery. 

2. Have A Support System

Having a loved one by your side during your gender confirmation surgery process is crucial for the day of surgery — but it’s also beneficial for a better recovery process. A trusted support system will be critical to your surgery, recovery, and overall mental and emotional wellbeing.

You will also legally need someone to drive you home after surgery. Depending on the type of surgery you have, it’s likely you will also need assistance recovering for a week or more afterward. To make your recovery process easier, it will be helpful to have a loved one around to assist with basic household chores, running errands, and picking up medications. If you do not have a loved one living nearby to help you out post-surgery, you may need to hire a nurse or aid to provide you with the assistance you need.

3. Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Part of ensuring that you have a healthy surgical and recovery experience is making sure that you’re healthy before, during, and after surgery. One of the ways you can prepare and make sure you’re as healthy as possible before your surgery is by adopting a healthy lifestyle. The healthier you are, the more you can reduce possible surgery risks and post-op complications. 

Two main lifestyle changes patients are asked to make before surgery are to quit smoking and lose weight if applicable. Quitting smoking before your procedure helps lower the risk of having blood clots or wound complications. If you use any of the following, you may be asked to quit:

  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Vaping
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Nicotine patches / gum

If you are overweight, your surgeon may ask you to lose weight prior to your surgery. If this applies to you, then you can ask your surgeon about healthy, sustainable weight loss guidance during your consultation.

Regardless of your weight, adopting a healthier diet or starting an exercise routine is usually a good way to help prepare for gender confirmation surgery. These lifestyle changes can help strengthen your body and immune system, reduce the risk of complications, and speed up the recovery process.

4. Follow Pre-Surgery Medical Instructions

During your consultation, your surgeon will give you specific medical instructions to follow pre-surgery. While preparing for gender confirmation surgery, it’s important to closely follow these instructions in order to reduce any risks or complications during and after surgery. If any of your pre-surgery medical instructions are unclear, make sure to ask the surgeon about it during your consultation.

During your consultation, your surgeon will take into account your current medications, any health conditions, and your lifestyle to provide you with personalized pre-surgery instructions. Following the steps they recommend will ensure you are well prepared for your gender confirmation surgery.

5. Consider Complementary Treatment Options

Surgery isn’t the only part of a transition journey. Many people who undergo gender confirmation surgery also complement it with other options to affirm their gender identity. A few common non-surgical treatments include:

  • Hormone therapy to increase the production of various male or female hormones and corresponding feminine or masculine characteristics
  • Voice therapy to adjust one’s voice to better match their gender identity

You may already be going through one of the above treatments, or your surgeon may require you to start additional treatments before your surgery. It’s important to discuss any additional treatments you have gone through or are currently going through for your transition journey. Your surgeon will be able to give you proper instructions on any adjustments that need to be made to move forward with gender confirmation surgery.

Preparing For Gender Confirmation Surgery: The Bottom Line

Gender confirmation surgeries are the next big step in your transition journey. As with all medical procedures, it’s critical to prepare beforehand properly. Proper preparation can ensure a smooth surgery and recovery experience so that you feel confident and happy with your results. 
Ready to get started? Leif Rogers, MD, is an Ivy League-educated, board-certified plastic surgeon and a standing member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. If you’re considering gender confirmation surgery, get in touch with his team to schedule a consultation today.

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