Woman with her hair slicked back in a bun

Transgender women often undergo facial feminization surgery, which is an umbrella term referring to a variety of procedures that make the face look more traditionally feminine. This can have a substantial impact on not just self-esteem and self-image, but your mental health and emotional well-being.  There are well-established long term mental health benefits of gender-affirming surgeries for transgender people.

Facial feminization surgery can be exciting as the results will help your external appearance better reflect your gender identity. However, it is normal to have some anxiety and stress going into any medical procedure. Proper preparation can help alleviate apprehension and reduce your risk for post-surgical complications.

Below, we’ll go over five tips to prepare for facial feminization surgery.

Facial Feminization Surgery: How To Prepare

Undergo A Consultation

This is the standard first-step for any medical procedure, including facial feminization. You will need to have a consultation during which you’ll discuss your goals and expectations, and decide if you are a good candidate for the surgery you desire.

You and your surgeon will go over what you hope to achieve with facial feminization surgery and make recommendations about which procedures would suit your needs. Common options include forehead contouring, nose reshaping, jaw angle reduction, cheek augmentation, and a tracheal shave. From there, you will build a treatment plan tailored to your needs and your surgeon will go over what to expect during your surgery or surgeries.

You will also need to undergo a routine medical exam that will entail a routine physical and lab testing. This is to ensure you do not have any health conditions that could potentially put you at a increased risk of complications. () You will also discuss your lifestyle and current medications and your surgeon may make some recommendations to get you in good shape for surgery.

Arrange For A Loved One To Help You Out

As with any procedure where you undergo anesthesia, you need someone to pick you up from the surgical facility and take you home afterwards. However, you will likely need extra assistance in the days following surgery.

Depending on your specific surgical plan, you may need assistance from a few days to a few weeks. You will likely need someone to help you out with basic household chores, picking up medication, and running errands during this time. Make sure to have a loved one lined up to assist you during your recovery. In cases where you are far away your loved ones, it may be necessary to hire a nurse or aid to provide the assistance you will need.

Follow Pre-Surgery Medical Instructions

Prior to undergoing facial feminization surgery, you will be given instructions by your surgeon. You need to follow all instructions closely to reduce your risk for complications. If you are uncertain about any instructions, make sure to ask for clarification.

As facial feminization surgery entails a wide range of medical procedures, everyone’s pre-surgical instructions may differ. You may need to stop taking or lower the dosage of certain medications, make lifestyle changes such as ceasing use of tobacco products and alcohol, or not eat or drink for a set time before surgery.

Some transgender women who are undergoing feminizing hormone therapy may need to cease use of estrogen and progesterone for two weeks before surgery due to the increased risk of blood clots.

Make Arrangements With Work

As previously mentioned, recovery times do vary, but you may be required to reduce your activity for at least a week after undergoing facial feminization surgery. For the first few days following surgery, you will likely be unable to work. For a few weeks following surgery, you may need to request special accommodations at work, such as working from home.

Make sure to talk to your employer ahead of time to ensure that you can get the necessary time off to recover and specify any special accommodations you will need in the months following your surgery.

Pack An Overnight Bag

To make sure everything goes smoothly on the day of your surgery, make sure to have an overnight bag ready with everything you will need. Include any medications or medical devices you need as well as comfortable clothes for leaving the surgical facility. Wide-collar, button-up, or zip-up shirts are preferred, as you want to make sure your face does not come into contact with your clothing.

Even if your surgery is outpatient, make sure to pack personal comfort items like your cellphone, charger, books, and so on. There is always a risk of complications, in which case you may end up at the surgical facility, or even a hospital, unexpectedly.

Facial Feminization Surgery Preparation: The Bottom Line

Facial feminization surgery will greatly improve your self-esteem and mental health, but major medical procedures are always a source of stress. Proper preparation can help you feel confident about your surgery and ensure a smooth recovery.

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 facial feminization surgery, get in touch with his team to schedule a consultation.

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