Deciding to have gender confirmation surgery is a big decision, and one that takes a lot of preparation. There are many physical, social, emotional, and psychological factors to consider before going forward.
Knowing what to expect both before and after surgery can make all the difference in helping you achieve the best possible outcome.
Mental Health & Wellness
When you are ready to start your gender confirmation surgery journey, the first step is finding the right team of experienced professionals. The process begins with psychological services such as counseling. Your mental health professional should be an expert or specialist in gender affirmation and transition so they can properly guide you through the process.
Counselors with experience in this area will know the right questions to ask, be familiar with every step of the surgical process from start to finish, and provide you with access to supportive resources.
Often times, your counselor will also be the person writing a letter of medical necessity clearing you to move forward with affirmation surgery. Check with your insurance company (where applicable) to find out if your letter needs to be written by a person with specific credentials or qualifications (a psychiatrist, for example).
According to the Standards of Care published by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), hormone therapy can be an important pre-operative step (and an ongoing part of gender affirmation) for some transsexual, transgender, and gender-nonconforming individuals.
Only you and your doctor can decide if hormone therapy is appropriate for you, so it is crucial that your doctor is a gender confirmation specialist. There are several different health screenings and risk assessments that need to be done prior to initiating hormone therapy. This is why it’s best to choose a physician with expertise in this area.
Your doctor should discuss fertility options with you at some point in the transition process. It is important to have open communication about the effects of hormone therapy and surgery, and to understand how these will affect your reproductive health, both now and in the future.
Especially for younger patients, the idea of having children someday may not be a priority. However, your doctor should discuss these matters with you so that you fully understand your options, should you choose to go down that route one day in the future. Regular screenings for certain types of reproductive cancers may also need to be a part of your medical care.
Expected Healing Times
Your recovery time will depend on a number of factors including how invasive your surgery will be, how extensive the changes are, and your individual healing time. Experienced surgeons will have a very good idea of the general healing times required for each type of surgery. If you have more than one procedure, your expected recovery time may need to be adjusted accordingly.
Extra Time Off from Work
Everyone recovers differently after surgery so keep in mind that you may need more time off than anticipated. Be prepared to take additional days for yourself so you can heal, get your energy back again, and mentally prepare for life after surgery.
Social & Emotional Support
It is a good idea to check in with your therapist frequently with regular sessions scheduled during your transition process. Surgery can bring up a lot of feelings, fears, and breakthroughs, so prepare yourself by making sure that you have the emotional support you need.
Supportive and affirming friends and family are also very important to your well-being. When you feel supported and have the help you need after surgery, it can positively affect everything from your mental state to your physical healing time. Have a list of go-to people in your life who are ready to drop everything and be there for you when you need them.
Weiss Memorial Hospital – Gender Confirmation Specialists
Whether you’ve just begun to consider surgery or are ready to move forward tomorrow, the professional and caring team at Weiss Memorial Hospital is here for you. Our surgeon, Dr. Loren Schechter, has performed hundreds of gender affirmation procedures over the last few decades.
He is renowned for his outstanding surgical precision, excellent results, and warm bedside manner. Dr. Schechter is also the author of the world’s first surgical atlas describing gender affirming surgical techniques.
Contact us today for your private consultation with Dr. Schechter and our team. We look forward to meeting you soon!