Things You MUST Know Before Getting Top Surgery

Top surgery is the term used to describe any procedure designed to alter the shape, size and/or appearance of the chest area. Today, one of the most common reasons top surgery is performed is to assist with the process of gender reassignment.

According to Healthline, top surgery can be performed to masculinize the chest or to feminize the chest in a way that reassigns gender from male to female, female to male or non-binary.

For most patients, having top surgery is one of the most transformative experiences of their life. However, if you or someone you love is seeking information about top surgery, there are also some things you must know before you start down this potentially life-changing path. 

In this article, learn about the key things you must know before getting top surgery, including how to prepare, how to select your surgeon, what your surgeon needs to know about you and more.

1. Be Prepared to Do Research - LOTS of Research

The first rule of thumb in plastic surgery is this: every patient is different. What looks great on one person may not look great on another person. 

You want to select a plastic surgeon who will treat you as the unique individual that you are, factoring in your natural anatomy as a pathway to get to your ultimate goal.

Here, the more research you can do, finding photographs of successful top surgery for patients whose natural build and body structure is similar to your own, the more you can hone in on exactly the look you want to achieve.

Bring your portfolio of pictures with you to your initial consultation so you don't have to rely on words along to share with your surgeon what you want to look like after your top surgery. 

2. Top Surgery Isn't an Overnight Procedure - It Is a Process

Depending on the type and extent of your top surgery procedure, you may need to do some preparatory work to experience the most favorable results.

For example, if you are currently taking hormone therapy as part of your transition, you may need to finish out that therapy before pursuing top surgery. This is especially likely to be the case if you are seeking insurance reimbursement for your top surgery procedure.

If you use tobacco products or drink alcohol regularly, you may need to stop these habits for a while both before and after your procedure. This will give your body the best chance to heal quickly and completely. This is so important for healing that some plastic surgeons even make this a requirement before scheduling the procedure.

It may also be necessary to go through some type of psychological counseling before scheduling your top surgery. Some plastic surgeons require this while others do not. 

In the same way, some surgeons will require that the patient be at least 18 years of age before agreeing to perform top surgery. Other surgeons will perform top surgery on younger patients as long as the parents consent to the procedure.

If you are also actively involved in a weight loss program, you should finish your program and achieve your ideal body weight before undergoing top surgery. Similarly, if you are under a doctor's care for any serious health issues, your surgeon may want you to work to resolve those before pursuing top surgery.

Finally, it is important to know that there will be an extended period of recovery following your top surgery. The average time away from work after a top surgery procedure is three to four weeks.

3. With Top Surgery, the Surgeon You Choose Really Matters

Top surgery requires a great many choices on the part of both the patient and their surgeon. This makes your choice of surgeon integral to the success of your procedure - truly, the two of you will partner to ensure your outcome is a stunning success.

The first thing you want to verify is that your surgeon follows the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) standards of health care.

According to top surgery expert, Pramit Malhotra, only surgeons who adhere strictly to the WPATH standards of care should be permitted to perform top surgery on patients.

The second thing you need to discuss with your surgeon is the many surgical options that could potentially deliver the desired results. For example, there are a variety of incision patterns and techniques based on your desired outcome. 

As well, there are potential pitfalls only a truly experienced and skilled surgeon will have the expertise to avoid. One example here is "dog ears," a result that leaves extra skin and fat poking out at the sides of the chest. Dog ears represent one of the top reasons patients seek revision surgery following a top surgery procedure.

The chance of experiencing dog ears is greatly reduced when you choose a plastic surgeon who has special expertise with doing top surgery.

4. Be Sure to Get the Exact Cost Estimate Up Front

There is no sugar-coating this part: top surgery can be expensive. In some cases, health insurance may cover all or part of the costs. In other cases, you may contact your insurer only to find you are on your own to find funding.

The earlier you know the exact cost of your top surgery, the more time you have to figure out your finances and save for your procedure if that is a necessity. In planning for funding your procedure, also remember to factor in the need to take up to three or four weeks away from work to recover fully from your procedure.

Don't be afraid to gather several estimates (although be sure the plastic surgeons you are considering adhere to WPATH standards and are board-certified)! 

5. Ask for Support - You Will Be Glad You Did!

Finally, it is no secret that many people who dream about having top surgery are reluctant to talk to their loved ones about what they are going through.

But top surgery is a major surgical procedure and you will need help during the surgery and during your convalescence. 

It can be especially helpful to connect with others who have had top surgery to learn from their experiences and receive their support.

On the day of your top surgery, you will be so glad you have support to see you through this life-changing process.

6. About Ann Arbor Plastic Surgery 

Dr. Pramit Malhotra, MD, is one of just a handful of surgeons nationwide who is double board-certified in plastic surgery and otolaryngology. 

Dr. Malhotra has recently been selected by a committee of his peers to be inducted into the American Society of Plastic Surgeons as an honorary member.

To date, Dr. Malhotra has performed more than 6,000 procedures, giving him a truly fine eye and a steady hand to pursue his mission as a surgeon to achieve natural, elegant results that meet and exceed patient expectations. 

To learn more and schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Malhotra, top surgery expert in Ann Arbor, MI, visit us online.

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