Having a flat chest is what all transmen wish for. The day when they no longer need to bind their chest or wear a bra is what keeps them motivated to work hard and save up for the surgery. It is the ultimate dream to be free.
As you know, I’ve had my top surgery in November 2015. My incisions have healed completely and they are not obvious as I had the peri-areola procedure. I had my surgery done in Perth, with Dr. Tim Hewitt in the St John of God Subiaco hospital. You can find Dr Hewitt’s details in this blog post.
I’ve had a number of transmen contact me for details of my surgeon, the costs and the procedure. While I’m happy to share the details (as I’ve posted it on here), I realised that most of them have one thing in common – their expectations.
Don’t get me wrong, getting top surgery was one of the best things to happen to me but I’ll be honest and tell you that the 2 days I was in the hospital was one of the worst experiences in my life. The staff at the hospital and my surgeon was amazing, but the hours spent on that uncomfortable bed, the number of tubes in my arms (I had 2, 1 in each arm, after I fainted the first night) and let’s not forget the pain; it made me ask myself: “Why in the hell did I do this to myself?”
So I’m here to address the 3 expectations of top surgery that transmen shouldn’t have.
1. Your surgeon is not God
He/she might be a miracle worker, but they’re not God. There are limits to what they can and cannot do. I found my surgeon because I saw the results of a friend of mine and I contacted him for the surgeon’s details. And all of the people that have approached me were doing what I did. They saw the amazing results and they wanted the same for themselves.
Here’s the thing, the procedure for top surgery is dependent on several things:
Your surgeon’s skill. Not all surgeons have the experience of doing chest reconstruction for transgender males – in fact a brother told me that the surgeon he went to was shocked and disgusted when he told him what he wanted. There are plenty of information out there on the internet for surgeons, Google it. Look for recommendations and pictures of various techniques the surgeon is skilled at before you make an appointment. My best advice is to look for a plastic surgeon who has experience with transgender clients.
The size of your chesticles. Your surgeon will recommend the best procedure based on your current size. If you’re lucky to be small (around A or B) then you would qualify for peri-areola or keyhole. This would result in minimal scars. If you’re bigger then it would most likely be double incision where there will be 2 lines of scars and you would have to get your nipples grafted. While there’s more scarring, this procedure would allow the surgeon more control over how your chest will turn out.
How much money you have for surgery. Like it or not, money is a big factor when it comes to your surgeon. There are cheap options out there in countries like Thailand where the cost is about 1/3 of what I paid. If you’re willing to risk it – be my guest. I’m not saying that ALL surgeons in Thailand are bad, I’ve seen great results on brothers who have had their surgery done there – just do your research and be mindful that they may not speak perfect English. If you have unlimited access to funds and have a big chest, there’s a surgeon in Perth that will do multiple keyhole procedures over years for a chest with minimal scarring.
2. Your chest will not be perfect immediately after surgery
About 80% of the guys who contacted me said “I want my results to be just like yours”. Guys, you would’ve just undergone major surgery – what you can’t see in pictures is the ridiculous amount of swelling and bruising. In my case, the surgeon decided not to put in drains for me which resulted in so much swelling that my chest was bigger than before surgery. He had to remove the stitches and squeeze the blood out, TWICE. Not fun… not fun at all.
All I’m saying is you may not get the “perfect” chest you envisioned right after surgery. You gotta be patient, it takes time for your body to heal and it could be months before you can see the actual results. It’s a process, not a miracle.
3. Top surgery doesn’t solve all your problems
When you come out of surgery, all of your problems are not just going to magically disappear. Some of the brothers who contacted me said that they can’t wait for surgery cause then they could finally be who they are and no longer have dysphoria. I’m sorry, but it’s more complicated than that.
Getting top surgery is only one step towards loving yourself. You will not suddenly be transformed into a happy confident man. It all takes time. The key is to push yourself out of your comfort zone and tackle your problems head on. You don’t have to make major changes; do it one baby step at a time. Over coming challenges is how we grow.
Again, I can’t stress enough that transitioning is a journey, not a destination. I will continue on this journey and learn until the day I die. You’re welcome to walk with me 🙂
As of today, I’m 7 months on T and 4 months post op. My voice seems to have leveled out, it’s not cracking as much. Still no facial hair, but my legs are getting hairier but in weird patches. And back acne… lots and lots of back acne 🙁
I’ve got an appointment with my GP tomorrow to (hopefully) get a letter to support the gender marker change in my official records. Health professionals can only write this letter after they’ve known you for a year. Would also be glad to finally get cheaper T – I was shocked to find out that when my gender marker is M, I’ll only pay about $8 for 3 shots of Primo instead of $30!
And are you a transman in Perth? If you aren’t already a member, check out Transmen of WA. There’s a secret group where you can ask all the questions you want or just chill out with the bros 🙂
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