T-Minus 10 days and counting…Unfortunately, I will not be making a montage of my surgery as I don’t have inspirational music beyond Hyper Crush telling me to keep up. My close friends plan on creating one with pictures and the like, so I will likely post a link to it when they have it created. Be warned, I suggest.
I wanted to briefly cover the steps it took to get to this point so that anyone who reads this blog for the educational value can know what to do or where to point transmen looking to accomplish such a procedure.
First: See a therapist!
- There are many practitioners of medicine and the law that require a letter from a therapist for you to get surgery of any kind [related to being Transgender] and seeing a therapist over the course of your transition is most helpful. I have continued to see the therapist I initially met with. I have used letters through her office for starting hormone therapy, changing the gender indicator on my driver’s license and now for my chest surgery.
Second: Know the procedures!
- There are a number of different “top” surgeries out there, dependent upon you, your chest size and your surgeon. I would recommend reading up on them here. It will be good to know what you will likely get, what works well in terms of recovery and scarring and what surgeons are better at which procedures as you make further decisions.
Third: Select your surgeon.
- You will be seeing a plastic surgeon in almost any top surgery and there a number of them that provide Transgender surgical options. I myself e-mailed several offices in the Salt Lake City area, looking to get prices and see who might be supportive. Many were supportive and after a consultation with one, I was able to find out what procedure would work best for me, talk with him to learn his experience and get a quote for how much the surgery and fees would cost. It was more expensive in SLC than I liked and the surgeon I met with had limited experience. I am someone that ensures that my body and wallet are in good places, so I opted to see Dr. Garramone, one of the top FTM chest surgeons I have researched, based in Florida.
Fourth: Fund your surgery.
- This is an important step after you know where you want to have surgery. With Dr. Garramone, there is a flat $5700 charge for the chest surgery. Travel, accommodation and food will all be extra, but even with those charges I am paying less than what I would have paid in Salt Lake City [around $7500 just for surgery]. I would recommend saving up as much as you can, wherever you can, but as that isn’t always a viable option there are a few great ways to get it funded with credit. Visit Garramone’s site linked above to find recommended medical loan companies. I was able to combine loans from my bank and through a service called Prosper to fund my own surgery.
Fifth: Prepare your body.
- Having surgery is stressful, and it can also be dangerous. Whomever you opt for surgery, each surgeon will be able to provide [upon request if not up front] detailed instructions on care for yourself before and after surgery. The better you are physically before you go in to surgery, the quicker you will recover and the easier the entire process will be. I opted to stop most if not all of my drinking and smoking prior to my surgery [which wasn't a lot anyway]. I restricted other substances that I either usually avoid or use sparingly such as high fructose corn syrup, caffeine, and excessive sodium. Trying to get appropriate rest and exercise is also important to make sure that your body is ready for surgery along with your mind.
Sixth: List everything!
- I like to be prepared. If you are traveling for surgery, make a list of everything you will need to bring a week or more in advance. Make sure you go over this list as you think about the day to day itinerary of your trip. In my case, I am remembering to purchase a few cheap button up shirts and to bring clothing that is easy to slip in and out of. I will be on medication and likely bed-ridden for a few days post-operation and don’t want to be needlessly uncomfortable or make dressing myself an added hassle. I am also listing out the locations of the places I will be traveling so that I can have that list for handy reference. Other lists could be important like making sure things at home are getting taken care of. The more prepared you are, the easier things will go down.
Seventh: Talk about it.
- I won’t lie to you, this surgery scares me shitless. There, said it. Don’t be afraid to talk with friends, family or therapist about how the upcoming surgery is making you feel. I have no doubts that this is what I want to do, but I’ll be in an alien climate and may have a hard time recovering due to the stress of a new environment alone. I want to make sure that I am able to heal so I can come right back to work, but do worry that it will take a harder toll on me than I anticipate. I have not spoken about this as much as I need to, and so I think that it’s important advice to open up to your friends. If they ask you how you are feeling about your surgery give them the truth. Talking about it can help you prepare for possible outcomes that you might not have considered.
If you need help with any aspect of preparing for surgery, you are more than welcome to send me a message. I have a history of obsessively tracking down and verifying information when it comes to things such as this and I would be glad to help however I’m able.
I’ll try to update more often through this and next week to give some good coverage of how the process is accomplished.