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FTM Top Surgery Recovery Tips

FTM Top Surgery Recovery Tips

By Beverly Fischer on March 24, 2021

Gender Affirmation Back to Blog

top surgery recovery tipsWhen you’re about to have a major surgical procedure like FTM top surgery, it’s important to make sure that all your questions are answered in advance. Whether it’s your or your loved one undergoing gender affirmation chest surgery, you should make sure your questions are answered and you fully understand what you should be doing to properly heal. 

Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions that come up about FTM top surgery recovery here at Dr. Beverly Fischer’s practice:

What are the different types of top surgery?

There are two main types, both of which we perform:

  • Periareolar creates one circular incision all the way around the areola, and another larger circular incision a couple of centimeters farther out from the first one. This type is better for very small breasts with little to no sag, and leaves the nipple stalk and sensation intact.
  • Double incision makes two horizontal incisions as the name suggests, one at the top and one at the bottom of the pectoral muscle. This type of masculine top surgery requires severing the nipple stalk and nerves so that the nipple can be repositioned, meaning sensation is lost. This type is usually required for larger breasts.


What do I need to know about the stages of top surgery recovery?

Your full recovery should take about 6 weeks, but the first 3 will be the most intense. Here are some tips to prepare you for each stage of your post-operative recovery:

  • The day of surgery: Make sure you have a loose, button-down or zippered shirt to wear home since you won’t be able to raise your arms over your head. You’ll be given a prescription for painkillers prior to your surgery to be able to have them if needed. You should also aim to get a lot of rest the night before. 
  • Week 1: You will need to be off from work and have a place to sleep where you can rest comfortably on your back, preferably propped up at a 45 degree angle. You’ll need a support person with you most of the time for the first 48 hours, both to help you clean your drains and to simply help you with any task. You won’t be able to shower or exercise, and you’ll need to be careful to check for any signs of infection.
  • Weeks 2-3: You can shower this week – if your drains have been removed. You might still need a little help with tasks requiring lifting more than 10-15 pounds and you should still be getting a lot of rest. In Week 3, you might be able to do some light exercise like walking, and if you have a desk job, you might be able to return to work. 
  • Week 4-5: This is about when you can decide how visible you want your scars to be. If you don’t want them to be visible you can start using products that contain silicone (like Silagen) to help reduce the color and thickness.  If you don’t want to spend a lot of money you can try Vitamin E oil or cocoa butter. 
  • Week 6-8: By now, you’ll be getting back to normal life and in your last stages of top surgery recovery. You can start returning to regular exercise and more physically-demanding jobs. Still follow any instructions from your surgical team and don’t rush anything.


When should I check in with Dr. Fischer and her team?

Dr. Fischer will check in with you the evening after your surgery to see how you’re doing and she will see you the next morning to make sure there has been no bleeding and that your nipples are healthy. After that, you will be back in the office for drain removal at one week. You are then on your own for healing for five weeks.  However, if you notice anything unusual in the first couple weeks of recovery, like excessive swelling, pain or fever, you should contact the office right away. 

How can I reduce swelling after top surgery?

The most important thing you can do is to be consistent about wearing the chest compression garment you were given to put on right away. It’s designed to minimize swelling.

Everybody is unique, so we’ll provide you with instructions on when and how to use ice packs or warm moist compresses to help with swelling and bruising.

What can I use to minimize scarring on my resculpted chest?

Silagen, Vitamin E oil or cocoa butter applied regularly to the incision area starting around Week 3 of your top surgery recovery will reduce the appearance of scars. You can also look for anti-scarring sheets, gels, or creams that contain medical-grade silicone. 

Are there any side effects I need to know about?

For most people, there will be some pain in the immediate few days after top surgery, which can be managed through prescription or over-the-counter painkillers. You might have some itching or tingling in the area over the first few weeks. You’ll be draining some fluid and may see a little blood when you clean your drains. And, of course, any surgery is exhausting to your body, so it’s normal to be very tired at first and need a lot of sleep and rest.

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Do you have any other questions? Call our office at 410-308-4700 or contact us to arrange a consultation where we can answer your questions directly!


Advanced Center for Plastic Surgery | (410) 308-4700 | Website | More posts

Dr. Beverly A. Fischer is passionate about her role as a leading female plastic and cosmetic surgeon in Baltimore, Maryland and beyond. She believes that plastic surgery makes a positive, life-changing difference, whether you’re renewing your body, face, and skin or embarking on an entire gender transition.

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