Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS) is a range of facial and neck procedures for transgender women to align facial appearance with their female gender. Transgender women may elect to undergo facial feminisation surgery (FFS) so their appearance matches how they see themselves.
Facial features such as the jaw line, eyes and brow are inherently gender specific and are on show for the whole world to see, while other parts of the body may be easier to hide. For transgender women, feminising their face can be a critical part of transitioning.
While FFS involves different procedures to the face and neck, they are often done in combination. These procedures include reshaping and changing the size of the chin and the jaw line, creating a smaller forehead by moving the hairline, and having augmentation surgery on the cheekbones and lips.
Often FFS is looked at as purely cosmetic but this is not really the case. Better mental health outcomes and quality of life, and relief from gender dysphoria are some of the physical and psychological benefits of the surgery transgender women report after undergoing the surgery.
Understanding the Australian FFS Landscape
If you are under 18 years old, you cannot have facial surgery in Australia. This is because the bones in your skull are still growing. Your surgeon will request a series of skull x-rays to identify if your bones are fully grown.
While you do not need a referral from mental health professionals for facial surgery, it can be an important step in your transition journey. Mental health professionals can support and assist you in making the right decision when asking yourself—Is FFS right for you? Having mental health professionals as part of your transition team is one of the steps involved in the FFS journey. They can help you make informed decisions about when to have the surgery and what it means to your transition.
The different FFS options include:
- Reducing the forehead by lowering the hairline.
- Brow lift that reshapes or lifts the eyebrows.
- Reshaping and lifting the lips.
- Enhancing the cheeks so they look smoother and rounder.
- Tracheal shave which reduces the size of the cartilage that forms the Adam’s apple.
- Rhinoplasty (nose surgery) to change the shape and size of the nose.
What does it cost?
Pricing and potential financial options for FFS depends on how many surgeries you undergo and the surgeon. It can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000. After you have an initial consultation, your surgeon will create an individualised treatment plan based on your desired outcomes along with a schedule of fees.
Medicare or private health insurance are unlikely to cover the costs but it is worthwhile exploring your options.
Selecting the Right Surgeon
Facial feminisation surgery is a big commitment financially, emotionally and psychologically. This makes it important to choose the right specialist plastic surgeon. Someone who has experience in the area and that makes you feel at ease and can trust. Specialist plastic surgeon Dr Robert Knight at Pure Aesthetics provides facial feminisation surgery Australia and is experienced in FFS.
From Consultation to Recovery
Before anything, you will consult specialist plastic surgeon Dr Rob Knight to talk about your goals for FFS and transitioning. He will examine you, measure your facial features and arrange CT scans and x-rays so he fully understands the structure of your face.
Your surgeon will also discuss the risks and potential complications. These will depend on the type of FFS and whether you have one or more procedures at a time.
Potential risks and complications with general surgery include:
- Reaction to the anaesthetic
- Delayed wound healing
- Bones that do not heal
- Ongoing bleeding or the formation of a haematoma
- Numbness or nerve damage
- Prolonged swelling and bruising
- Loss of hair along the incision after forehead contouring.
Immediately after FFS you will feel some discomfort. There will also be tenderness, swelling and bruising around the wound site. Also, you may find it difficult to move your facial muscles. These issues will resolve in time. If you have excess fluid, there may be drains in the area.
You may need to stay in hospital for a few days to rest. All dressings will have to stay in place to protect the wound site from becoming infected until your surgeon removes them.
It is important to rest as much as possible in the two weeks following FFS. It is a good idea to prepare a comfortable recovery space in your home before you have surgery and make sure you take time off work.
Keep your head elevated at all times to help reduce the swelling and bruising. Use pillows to prop your head up while you sleep. Also cold compresses can help dissipate any swelling and bruising.
You will receive post-operative instructions to take home after FFS so make sure you follow them to maximise your recovery. It is important to take any medication as prescribed. Also, do not eat solid foods until your surgeon says you can.
Avoid any strenuous activities while you are recovering. This means not bending, squatting or doing anything that is more than a gentle stroll. Also avoid anything that causes you physical or emotional stress. You will need to take a break from playing any sports or vigorous exercise until your surgeon gives you clearance. However, taking short walks will encourage blood circulation which can shorten your recovery time.
How long your total recovery time is will depend on the procedure, Your natural healing ability and general health will also affect how long it takes to recover. In general, it will take a couple of weeks for the swelling to subside and the wounds will heal in time.
To find out more about FFS, contact us today to book an initial appointment.