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Recovery and Aftercare: What to Expect After Gender Affirmation Surgery

Gender affirmation surgery is often part of a larger treatment plan that includes hormone therapy, living in the desired gender role, and social changes. However, it is important to understand the recovery process and what to expect after gender affirmation surgery.

Masculinizing surgeries include top surgery to create a more masculine chest and bottom surgery that changes the genitals. These surgeries can significantly impact fertility and sexual sensations.

Preparation

Gender affirmation surgery, or genital reassignment or gender confirmation surgery, is performed to help patients’ physical bodies match their self-identified gender. Surgical procedures are used to create facial features, chest and genitals that match one’s gender identity and alleviate the distress associated with gender dysphoria (the feeling that a person’s biological sex is mismatched with their identity).

The earliest preparation phase involves hormone therapy. It is recommended that a patient start hormone therapy at least a year before undergoing gender-affirming surgery. This will help them see what features can be changed with hormones alone and give them a chance to try out the gender they feel most comfortable in before undergoing surgery.

The next step is to decide which surgical procedures you want. Some of these procedures may require weeks or months of healing before you can resume your normal activities. 

Recovery

While transgender surgery is a major milestone in the gender affirmation process, it’s not the only step people need to take to live as their true selves. The next phase is a recovery period involving many care aspects, including physical therapy.

Most of these surgeries are done under general anesthesia, so patients will need a ride home from the hospital and may also need help with household chores for up to a week. Because of this, individuals need to have a plan for their care and recovery before treatment begins.

Bellevue plastic surgeon specializes in pelvic-area procedures such as hysterectomy, the uterus, and fallopian tube removal, often combined with chest masculinization surgery (metoidioplasty).

Post-Operative Care

During the post-operation phase, your care team will help you through any recovery issues. This can include physical, emotional or mental healing.

Depending on the surgery, you may have to wait until your surgical site heals to engage in sexual activity. You must also use lubricant and other protective measures during this time.

Most insurance companies recognize transgender-related procedures as medically necessary. This means you can receive the gender-affirming surgery you desire in a safe and welcoming environment.

In addition to surgery, we offer support groups and specialized counseling for individuals undergoing the transition. This is to help you cope with emotional side effects associated with gender affirmation surgery and to provide guidance for long-term care. We also work closely with a team of health professionals, including gynecologists and urologists. We can create a customized plan for long-term care and follow-up. This will ensure you get the best results from your surgery.

Follow-Up

Gender affirmation can involve more than just surgery. It can also affect social, legal and medical promises, including hormones and changing names or pronouns.

Many people with gender reassignment surgery must continue receiving medical care from their healthcare provider. For example, suppose you have genital feminizing surgery (also known as bottom surgery or genital reconfiguration) such as vaginoplasty. In that case, your doctor may recommend you continue seeing a gynecologist or urologist for routine cancer screenings.

In addition, many transgender and nonbinary people with masculinizing surgeries like orchiectomy may need to continue taking testosterone. This can help to maintain or improve clitoris growth, and it may prevent the need for future metoidioplasty surgeries, in which surgeons create a neophallus from genital tissue.

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