How Much Does Facial Feminization Surgery Cost
You’ve seen it on TV shows like “The Bachelor.” You may have even been one of those women who fantasized about having a more feminine face. Or maybe you’re someone who’s just tired of looking in the mirror every morning and seeing yourself with facial hair. Either way, if you want to undergo facial feminization surgery (FFS), also known as gender reassignment surgery or transaffirmation surgery, there are some things you should know before getting started.
First off, let’s talk about what exactly this type of cosmetic surgery is all about. It’s not necessarily considered a medical treatment; instead, it’s viewed as elective because it’s meant to make a person look more female, regardless of their physical sex. The goal is to create a womanly appearance by making the patient’s jaw smaller, her chin less pronounced, her forehead narrower, her nose shallower and her cheeks thinner. Gender reassignments — which include breast augmentation surgeries — are typically reserved for people whose bodies were born male with large breasts that don’t match their desired body image.
But gender reassignment doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it can take anywhere from several months to years to complete, depending on how many components need to be addressed during the process. For example, when it comes to creating a more feminine look, surgeons will usually perform two main procedures: rhinoplasty and liposuction. Rhinoplasty involves sculpting the nasal bones so they appear straighter and closer together, while liposuction removes fat from specific areas around the nose to decrease its size. Surgeons also may choose to use other techniques such as cheek implants, brow lifts, eyelid surgery, scar revision and skin tightening to improve the overall aesthetic appeal of the patient’s face. This kind of work requires multiple visits and lots of recovery time, especially since patients aren’t allowed to drive after undergoing certain types of facial reconstructive surgery.
There’s another important factor to consider when deciding whether or not to get FFS: cost. According to statistics, out-of-pocket costs for FFS commonly range from $20,000 to $50,000 and above, depending on the surgeon and the number of component procedures performed. Insurance companies often view FFS as an elective cosmetic procedure, but these same insurers are also responsible for paying for health care expenses incurred by employees and members. So, it’s no surprise that insurance plans do cover these kinds of operations at various levels. If your employer does offer coverage for cosmetic procedures, check with human resources to see what the policy covers. Also, keep in mind that if you’re self-employed, you’ll need to pay for any additional procedures up front.
If you decide to go ahead with facial feminization surgery, here are some important details to think about prior to scheduling your first appointment:
What happens during your initial consultation? Make sure you arrive prepared with questions regarding potential risks, expected results and postoperative recovery times. Do your homework beforehand, too, by researching doctors online, asking friends and family for recommendations and reading reviews posted by previous patients.
Check into each doctor’s qualifications. Ask them where they trained and what licenses they hold. Find out how long they’ve been performing this particular type of cosmetic surgery. And ask them how often they perform similar procedures successfully.
Learn about possible complications. Discuss with your doctor whether or not he/she thinks it would be safe for you to undergo facial feminization surgery based on your age, general health and lifestyle.
Take pictures. Bring photos of your current features and ask your plastic surgeon to compare his findings to your existing ones.
Do your research. Read articles written by experts and review information found online to gain insight into what to expect following your surgery.
Once you find a qualified surgeon you trust, schedule your consultation. During this session, you’ll discuss your expectations as well as your personal preferences and goals for your new look. Afterward, you’ll meet with your doctor again to learn more about the different options available and to receive a full explanation of everything involved in your planned procedure. At this point, you can either book the date right then and there or set up future appointments until you reach your final decision.
Now that you’ve got a better idea of what to expect, read on to find out what else you should prepare for once you’re under anesthesia.
Complications associated with FFS vary widely, but most occur within three weeks of surgery. These complications include swelling, bruising, infection, asymmetry, numbness and dry eyes. Other rare issues include loss of consciousness due to blood clotting problems, stroke, heart attack and death.
Facial Feminization Procedure Preparation
Since facial feminization surgery is highly invasive, you won’t have much downtime following your operation. However, prepping for your procedure isn’t quite as straightforward as preparing for a regular visit to the dermatologist. In fact, the FDA recommends taking antibiotics prior to your surgery to prevent infections related to minor cuts and incisions. But beyond that, you shouldn’t worry about packing anything aside from what you normally bring along for everyday activities. That said, you should avoid strenuous activity or exercise immediately before your procedure, and you mustn’t smoke cigarettes for 48 hours afterward. Your hospital staff will provide further instructions on what you can and cannot eat and drink prior to arriving at the facility, so please refer to this list carefully.
Most importantly, remember that you shouldn’t try to “go back to normal” right away. While your new facial structure might feel different, you’ll still have plenty of time to adjust to your new appearance over the coming months. Don’t rush the healing process, and allow enough time between treatments to give your body plenty of time to recover fully.
In addition to keeping your daily routine relatively unchanged, you should continue wearing foundation, powder and mascara to help conceal any bruising and swelling. Remember that you should stay hydrated throughout your entire experience, both during and after your procedure. Drinking plenty water helps reduce pain, bleeding and bruising, and drinking fluids containing sugar prevents dehydration caused by excessive fluid drainage.
Finally, don’t forget to pack your favorite makeup tools! Since you’ll probably be spending a lot of time indoors following your surgery, you’ll definitely need to stock up on cosmetics. If you’re planning to wear makeup regularly anyway, this is really easy to do. Just pack your favorites products, including cleansers, moisturizers, powders, foundations, blushes, brushes, nail polish, lipsticks and glosses.
With all these considerations in place, now that you understand what to anticipate, read on to discover tips on how best to handle the emotional roller coaster ride that comes with FFS.
After your surgery, you’ll likely spend the majority of your days recovering at home. However, if you prefer to return to the office earlier than anticipated, your physician will arrange this for you. He or she will also send you home with medications specifically designed to ease discomfort and help manage side effects like nausea.
Facial Feminization Surgery Recovery Tips
While you’re recuperating at home, you’ll miss out on the company of your coworkers and friends — unless you live close to a friend or relative willing to watch your house during your absence. If you’d rather not become completely isolated, you may want to consider staying at a nearby hotel temporarily. Most hospitals recommend this option for patients recovering from major surgical procedures.
During your stay at the hospital, you’ll remain closely monitored by nurses and physicians. They’ll check your vital signs, temperature and blood pressure frequently and record observations in real time. There will also be numerous opportunities to ask questions about your condition, and you’ll be free to request assistance at any time.
Your recovery period varies depending on your individual needs and circumstances, so speak with your treating physician to determine how quickly you can begin moving forward. As mentioned previously, you’ll generally need to stay at least 24 hours following your procedure, although this depends entirely upon the length of your surgery.
When it comes to returning to work, most employers are understanding and flexible. Depending on the specifics of your job, you may be required to demonstrate that you can safely resume your responsibilities before being sent back to the office. For instance, if you worked in a field requiring heavy lifting, you may need to pass a physical fitness test administered by your employer. Likewise, if you had access to confidential files, documents and records, you may have to turn in copies of any sensitive materials before returning to work.
As for the actual day-to-day aspects of living, you should gradually reintroduce yourself to your workplace environment without causing undue stress for anyone. Try to dress appropriately, maintain your usual hygiene routine and refrain from discussing your surgery publicly. Finally, don’t forget to smile! Many people assume that smiling makes your face droop, but actually the opposite is true. Smiling causes tiny muscles in your face to contract, producing fuller lips and brightening your whole complexion.
Following your surgery, you’ll notice a change in the way others respond to you — particularly men. Men who used to stare openly at you with admiration and lust suddenly start giving you strange looks instead. Don’t fret. We’ve all gone through something similar. Simply shrug it off as a sign of familiarity. With
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