OK, so you’ve made a commitment to top surgery and you are (understandably) nervous. You also need to get prepared for your big day and recovery. Post-operative instructions and taking it easy immediately after surgery will play a huge role in the success of your gender affirming surgery. It really is that important and focusing on and being prepared for it will go a long way towards getting you over your nerves as well. So, here’s our guide for getting prepared for your gender affirming top surgery and recovery.
Follow Post-Operative Instructions.
A female-to-male gender transformation is highly specialized and unique. Your incision will need time to heal and surgeon is an expert in this entire process and it’s important you follow every single instruction they give you. To the letter. From what you wear, to activity level to how and when you administer your hormones (if applicable), to what you do and don’t eat and drink before and after your procedure.
And remember, if you do not understand an instruction given by your doctor, make sure to ask for clarification. For instance, you’ll need to practice compression during recovery in order to help drain fluids and reduce swelling.
Results Are Gradual.
A full recovery from FTM top surgery can take months. You will start to notice redness, swelling, bruising and scarring diminish as the weeks go by.
Ask questions when you have them and be sure you understand the answers given. For instance, you’ll need to practice compression during recovery in order to help drain fluids and reduce swelling. Your surgery is major and it is definitely full of positive change, but don’t assume an instant lifestyle or physical transformation overnight.
Get Healthy and Stay Healthy.
Quit smoking well in advance of your surgery and definitely do not pick it back up afterward. Smoking slows healing throughout the body. It reduces blood flow to your skin and can lead to improper recovery, discoloration and scarring that could have been avoided. The impact smoking can have on chest healing is significant. Don’t take the risk, quit and know you’ve quit well in advance of your surgery in order to avoid unnecessary complications and unwanted healing side effects.
Other acts of healthfulness will also improve your recovery. For instance, following a low sodium diet isn’t just a good general health idea, it will also help speed your recovery by reducing water retention. Retention and bloating can prolong swelling during surgery recovery, so keep to a diet of 1,500 mg or less of sodium leading up to your surgery and during your recovery.
As a general rule of thumb, every healthy choice you make leading up to and during your recovery will improve your recovery. Eat well and maintain a healthy body as well as a healthy mind and spirit.
Prepare Your Home for Easy Living.
Because the Advanced Center for Plastic Surgery has an onsite operating room, the main recovery after surgery happens at home. Prepare your recovery location ahead of time.
You’ll almost certainly be under orders from your doctor not to lift things or to lift your arms. So, make sure you’ve got whatever you are going to need for up to six weeks at waist level or easy, non-lifting, non-reaching access. This means in your kitchen, your bathroom, your bedroom and at work. You won’t be able to lift anything even remotely heavy. Generally, this means nothing above 5 lbs so be prepared and stock up. Do all of your chores before surgery and make sure that you’ve lined up assistance for those lifting and strenuous activities you can’t otherwise avoid.
Ask For Help.
First, make sure you line up a chauffeur for the day of and after surgery (for your post-op visit). Also ask for help from family and friends when you arrive back home after surgery. You are going to need both mental and physical support from start to finish.