Facial Feminization Surgery: What Is It and What Are the Risks?
Facial feminization surgery refers to a set of aesthetic surgeries aimed at changing certain features in a person’s face. Of course, the result is intended to be as natural and harmonious as possible.
It’s most commonly demanded by transgender women in the process of physical transition. However, it’s also frequent in cisgender women, who seek to soften certain rather masculine features, such as a square chin or marked Adam’s apple.
There are several surgical procedures within the category of facial feminization. They can be performed simultaneously, combining several interventions, or only one specific area of the face can be worked on.
What is facial feminization, and why is it done?
Our face is the part we show the most to the world. Hence, for many people, having a pleasing or harmonious face is paramount.
The female face tends to have finer features compared to the male face. In particular, this can be seen in details such as a narrow forehead, a small and profiled nose, full lips, an oval face, or protruding cheekbones.
However, a person may not feel comfortable or at ease with their appearance, considering that their features are “harder” or “more masculine.” For this, facial feminization can be done.
Essentially, it consists of a series of surgical interventions for aesthetic purposes. As far as possible, surgeons work to ensure that the results correspond to both the bone structure and the person’s wishes. Therefore, the goal is that their features have a feminine appearance and are harmonious.
The surgical process is considered important in people whose gender identity differs from the sex they had at birth (gender dysphoria). It’s even necessary to modify some features of the face, especially when the process of physical transition to their self-affirmed gender takes place.
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What is the facial feminization procedure like?
To achieve the changes, a personalized and very detailed study of the face must be carried out since each person’s bone and facial structure is unique.
In some cases, several techniques are required, including x-rays and computerized tomography, as well as photographs. Overall, the changes sought may be related to the following:
- Hairline and size of the forehead
- Superciliary arches
- Eyelids and eyes
- Jaw and chin
What surgeries can be performed?
The facial feminization work can be done jointly or simultaneously, as well as by zones. Among the different surgeries that can be performed are the following:
- Smoothing of the frontal sinus and superciliary arches.
- Frontoplasty: Lowering of the hairline.
- Modification of the jaw angles to accentuate or give the oval shape.
- Mentoplasty: Changes in the chin to refine or sharpen the face.
- Thyroplasty to stylize the Adam’s apple.
- Blepharoplasty: For those who are not recommended for facial feminization to eliminate eye bags.
- Upper lip lift to give projection, as well as definition and volume to the lips.
- Cheekbone augmentation.
- Rhinoplasty: Although there are different types of noses, the female nose is usually thinner and pointed. If that doesn’t work, rhino modeling can be done, which is a simpler procedure.
- Bichectomy: removal of fat pockets in the cheeks.
- Facial feminization facelift provides smoothness and firmness and accentuates the appearance of a well-groomed complexion.
- Removal of facial hair.
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Preparation for facial feminization
As in other surgeries, before performing a facial feminization, a series of examinations and medical check-ups must be performed to rule out any conditions. This includes the following:
- A review of the medical history, both personal and family
- A complete physical examination
- Laboratory tests: lipid profile, blood glucose, blood count, liver enzymes, etc.
- Serology for VDRL, HIV, and other sexually transmitted diseases.
The patient should inform the surgical team if they are undergoing treatment. They may be asked to stop taking certain medications, such as blood thinners.
In addition, an evaluation by a mental health professional is recommended. It should be determined if the individual is of sound mind before signing any consent form.
Considering that several procedures may be performed at once during facial feminization, a recovery period is required. Therefore, recommendations should be taken into account to help in the process.
Recovery times may vary from patient to patient or according to the type of intervention. However, it’s recommended that the first 24 hours are of absolute rest. Then, you should wait between 1 and 2 weeks to return to work.
Take prescribed medications
Some medications may be prescribed, such as antibiotics, painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, and even corticosteroids. To avoid complications, it’s suggested that you follow your medical team’s medication recommendations to the letter.
Apply cold if necessary
You may experience a feeling of tightness, warmth, or tightness in the treated areas. In addition to medication for pain and swelling, a local cold compress may be applied after the first 24 hours following surgery.
Avoid touching any wounds
As should be the case after any surgery, avoid touching wounds, pulling stitches, or picking at scar scabs.
Wounds should be kept clean and dry. It’s recommended to clean with saline or antiseptic soap. If the wound bleeds a little during washing, there’s no need to worry.
It’s recommended not to expose yourself to the sun during the first week after surgery. Then, in the following months, you should use sunscreen with SPF 50 to prevent the appearance of spots on the skin.
Who is facial feminization not recommended for?
This surgery should only be performed when the person has finished growing and the face and skull bones have finished forming. On the other hand, it’s not recommended in case of uncontrolled mental conditions, which are thought to affect the possible reactions to the results or limit decision-making capacity.
Other health conditions that discourage the performance of facial feminization are bleeding disorders, history of deep vein thrombosis, heart disease, and kidney disease.
Feminization and self-acceptance
In the end, we all want to feel good about ourselves. We all want to be accepted and to feel accepted. And in part, this involves being comfortable with the body we have and the face we see in the mirror.
However, in the particular case of facial feminization, some issues need to be clarified. First of all, patients do not necessarily have to undergo all the interventions. Likewise, they should not always be done at the same time.
For the results to look natural, the operations should be done progressively. In this sense, the evolution should be observed by professionals after each of the interventions. The definitive results will not be appreciated until months later.
The greatest risk is that the person does not feel satisfied with what they see after the process. Therefore, to avoid problems and minimize impacts and the importance of the patient’s expectations, the surgeon must also be assertive when communicating the possible expected results.It might interest you...