How To Prepare for and Recover From Top Surgery

Transgender model

The decision to get gender-affirming top surgery is an important milestone for some transgender patients. Once you’ve made that choice, knowing how to prepare for the procedure and what to expect during the recovery can provide peace of mind as you look for a plastic surgeon to perform top surgery in Portland, Oregon.

Ensuring You’re a Candidate for Top Surgery

Before discussing how to prepare for top surgery, it’s important that you understand the requirements for undergoing the procedure. You probably know this information if you’ve been researching getting male-to-female (MTF) or female-to-male (FTM) top surgery in Portland.

Conditions for getting top surgery include:

  • Persistent, well-documented gender dysphoria
  • Well-controlled medical or mental health with clearance from a mental health professional
  • On hormone therapy for over 1 year for MTF patients
  • Living as the desired gender for at least 1 year

Patients who are seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist should continue their sessions during the time leading up to the procedure, as working with a therapist is an integral part of a person’s transition. You should choose a plastic surgeon who specializes in top surgery, such as Dr. Kyle Baltrusch at Portland Plastic Surgery Group. Dr. Baltrusch helps patients understand the surgical process and is compassionate and supportive of patients.

Preparing for Top Surgery

Physically preparing for your procedure focuses on being as healthy as possible, which will help you heal faster and reduce the risks of complications. A healthy lifestyle that includes eating nutritious foods and exercising regularly is the place to start. If you smoke, you’ll need to quit at least 4 weeks before the surgery and not resume smoking during the recovery period. This is an excellent opportunity to quit smoking for good.

During the 2 weeks leading up to surgery, we recommend limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption. You’ll also need to stop taking certain medications; you’ll be provided precise instructions about meds you can or cannot take. Patients getting testosterone injections should be able to continue them at least until a day or two before surgery.

Fill prescriptions in the week before the surgery. These will likely include a pain medication. It’s also a good idea to prepare your home for the recovery period. Create a comfortable “nest” where you’ll have essentials within arm’s length, such as electronic devices, a water bottle, medications, books, pillows, or other items. Stocking your refrigerator with pre-cooked meals and tidying up your home can also ease your recovery.

We provide detailed pre-operative instructions that you should closely follow before the procedure and on the day of surgery.

What To Expect During Recovery

You’ll return home on the day of your surgery accompanied by an adult who should remain with you overnight. Even though getting enough rest is a significant part of your recovery, we also want you to take short walks around the home in the first few days after surgery to promote blood circulation.

For MTF patients, the recovery is similar to breast augmentation recovery. Discomfort can be managed with prescription pain meds or ibuprofen. You should plan to take at least 10 days off from work if you have a non-physical job.

FTM (or chest masculinization) patients will have surgical drains that the surgeon removes at a post-op appointment about 5 to 7 days after the surgery. It’s important to wear a compression garment to minimize swelling. If you have a job that isn’t physically taxing, you should plan to take off for about 2 weeks.

All patients should check with Dr. Baltrusch before resuming any strenuous workouts—especially those involving the upper body.

If you’re looking in the Portland, OR, area for a top surgery specialist, you can request a consultation using the online form to meet personally with Dr. Baltrusch or call us at (503) 292-9200 to schedule an appointment.

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