* UPDATE – Dr Patrick Briggs is now based in Melbourne at Coco Ruby Plastic Surgery *Being transgender and planning gender reassignment surgery to make the transition to the body and life you feel you were always meant to lead is a difficult process. Harder for some, but certainly not easy for anyone. With this surgery on the rise, we try to make the process easier by enlisting the help of Dr Patrick Briggs, Plastic Surgeon based in WA, to go through things to consider before gender reassignment surgery.
What gender reassignment procedures are right for you?
Depending on whether you are transitioning from male to female (MTF), or female to male (FTM), some of the procedures you might be considering are:
- Mastectomy – complete removal of breast (this can also include a chest reconstruction to create a more masculine looking chest)
- Chest augmentation – insertion of breast implants to create more feminine breasts.
- Hysterectomy – operation in female born patients to remove uterus and cervix (with the option of a oophorectomy to remove ovaries at the same time)
- Facial contouring – sculpting the face to be more in line with either a feminine or masculine appearance depending on the patient’s preference.
- Tracheal shave – reducing the size of the appearance of the “Adam’s Apple”
- Genital reconstruction (vaginoplasty, phalloplasty, scrotal reconstruction and implants, areolar reduction, removal of testes, etc.)
- Laryngeal surgery – alters the pitch of vocal cords
- Hormone replacement therapy, also known as cross-sex hormone therapy.
Dr Briggs says, “Most gender reassignment surgery is breast surgery. Only 20% (if that) of transsexuals will have a genital reconstruction. In FTM the surgery has gained the moniker TOP Surgery and when this term is used it is almost exclusively used in connection with FTM patients. In MTF breast augmentation may be carried out in exactly the same way as in female patients seeking enhancement. The only limitation on size is the tautness of the skin.”
Have you thought everything through before your gender reassignment surgery?
Whilst you’re probably pretty excited about making your final transition and living the life you were always supposed to be living, have you asked yourself some important questions?
Do you want kids?
If the answer to this is “yes” or “I’m not sure yet” you might want to consider either banking your sperm if you were born a male, or reconsider having a hysterectomy. Transmen CAN still give birth (there have been several cases) and you need to consider all your options before ruling them out entirely because you had surgery without thinking of the long term consequences. Perhaps you don’t have a partner and want kids now, but that might change in the future?
Have you got sufficient recovery time and recovery support organised?
Anyone having surgery should be aware of the recovery time and have sufficient support organised. Transgender surgery can come with it’s own set of emotional recovery and adjustment issues, so make sure you have your partner, good friend or family member beside you for at least a week after your procedure/s. You will also want at least a couple of weeks off work (at least!!) to adjust to your new body.
Have you got someone to talk to – ie. psychological support?
In an ideal world we could all talk to a partner, friend or family member, but many will not have this support. It is really important to realise you are not alone on your journey and there are several support groups/online forums out there. It’s also a really good idea to have a psychologist on board so you can talk through any concerns you have outside your personal support team (if you have one). Dr Briggs says, “Most surgeons require a patient to have been under the care of a psychologist and/or psychiatrist and to have the support of their mental health professional.”
Are you really ready?
Patients are generally required to have already been undergoing hormone replacement, have psychological evaluation and/or living as their chosen gender for a lengthy period of time before a surgeon will be prepared to perform gender reassignment surgery. This is to ensure that you are fully prepared and ready for the final physical transformation and transition.
Dr Patrick Briggs is a discreet and experienced surgeon in gender reassignment surgery. If you think you’re ready and would like to have a consult with Dr Briggs, or would like more information you can phone his clinic on (08) 9381 9300.
If you’d like to read more about Dr Briggs, check out the blogs below.