4 Trans Women Share How Facial Feminization Surgery Changed Their Lives

Dr. Lee says this means being in good physical shape and abstaining from habits that can cause complications or become a detriment to the recovery process, such as smoking nicotine or drinking alcohol. “Preparing for surgery is like preparing for a marathon,” she adds. “Customizing your diet to incorporate specific nutrients before and after your procedure is critical for achieving optimal surgical results.” Before any kind of surgical procedure, Dr. Lee recommends avoiding processed foods, drinking plenty of water each day, and discontinuing any dietary supplements, as some can exacerbate bruising.

“I’d advise anyone about to get FFS to spend the months beforehand exercising as much as they can,” says Caragh. “I was up and walking within a couple of hours of my FFS,” a feat she says was made easier because she was in decent shape.

Her doctor, Dr. Deschamps-Braly, agrees, saying his patients are usually up and walking the same day of surgery, and walking a significant amount in the days after: “This is helpful for the healing process.”

But Dr. Levine warns patients not to overdo it (if you’ve never done CrossFit, the week before your surgery is not the time to start). “It’s important to not put too much stress on the body before surgery,” she notes. “This can actually increase inflammation and cortisol levels.” When in doubt, she says, “follow your doctor’s instructions.”

And mental preparation is just as important as the physical. “I think the surgery should be something patients have been thinking about for some time,” Dr. Deschamps-Braly says.

“They’re mentally and physically prepared for it and are able to stand steadfast in their decision, their outcomes, and presenting their true gender,” Dr. Lee echoes this, noting that “your mind is so powerful in dictating the type of recovery you have.”

Dr. Deschamps-Braly says his patients usually come to him with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria made by a mental health professional. In most cases, they’ve been working with an endocrinologist or primary-care doctor to manage hormone therapy.

What is the recovery time for FFS?

“Generally, patients will be up and walking the same day of surgery,” says Dr. Deschamps-Braly. “Patients will look just fine going to the grocery store about 7 to 10 days after their operation, and they’ll be eating and breathing normally by two weeks.”

After two or three months of recovery, patients will start to notice some of the anticipated changes from their FFS—enough to attend an event where “looking good is important,” he says—but a full recovery can take up to 18 months. “Don’t let that discourage you,” he notes. “Patients generally look really good between three and six months after their procedure.”

What are the risks of FFS?

Every cosmetic procedure comes with a list of potential risks and complications, including:

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