Surgery times six

October 22, 2010 at 5:06 am Leave a comment

I am an FTM (female-to-male transsexual). Part of my journey has been physical – i.e. chest masculinization and the removal of the ovaries/uterus.

I have had six surgeries in three years. Five of those surgeries were to masculinize my chest (i.e. mastectomy, and then four revisions, three of them under general anaesthetics). The other surgery was to remove my uterus and ovaries. The latter one went smoothly, mostly, aside from a bladder infection a few days after the nurse removed the catheter. The chest, however, has been a painful process.

It all started with my developing a hematoma after the first surgery. A hematoma is basically a big bruise and it causes excessive swelling that can cut off the blood supply to the nipple – which is what happened in my case. As I recovered, slowly, the left nipple turned black and most of it just fell off. So I went back under the knife, this time to minimize the damage. Where my nipple used to be was mostly scar tissue now. I had minimal sensation (still do). The third surgery involved taking part of my healthy right nipple and grafting it to the remaining left nipple. The surgeon did a spiral cut into the original and transferred it over. I woke up with drains in my sides. The healing was slow, and again, the scarring around the areola pretty severe. Both nipples stretched out badly. I would need to go back in to reduce the size and remove the scarring. Round four.

Before round four came was when I went in for my hysterectomy. Thankfully that surgery was smooth. Well, smooth enough. During my follow-up appointment, I mentioned that I was still bleeding lightly, and the doctor said he should take a look. He scraped out a blood clot from inside me (the surgery was laporoscopic). The bleeding stopped. Thankfully.

Four weeks after my hysterectomy, I got a call from my chest surgeon’s office to say that there was an Operating Room opening and did I want to come in for my revision. Because I was still covered by short term disability (for the hysto) through my work, it seemed like good timing. Round four saw the surgeon cut away at both nipples. But when I went to see him two weeks later, the skin had pulled away from the areola on both sides. The left side look especially bad – the skin tight and not very elastic. I would have to go back in. This time, at least, it would be under local anaesthetics. I thought it would be easier. I discovered during the surgery that I could still feel things. And it turns out recovering from local anaesthetics is not a lot of fun. The swelling was fairly severe and blood oozed into my dressing.

Two weeks later, and I went back to the doctor. The right side was still healing well. The left side, the one that had had the hematoma, popped open again. But it didn’t look so bad. The doctor didn’t bother to book me into an OR room. He pulled out the needle filled with painkiller and went to work right there in his consulting room. I don’t even count this one as one of the surgeries.

For anyone out there who decides to have chest surgery – make sure you have people to help you when you’re recovering. When the doctor tells you no lifting, he means no lifting. No quick movements, no twists or push ups or anything that can strain your chest muscles. Surgery’s no joking matter. Take it from me.


Entry filed under: Transgender. Tags: , , .

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