Mental Health, Transition

Top surgery experience and expectations nearly 4 months on…

This is something that panicked me before my surgery, what if it isn’t what I expect? What if I regret it? What if I end up saying I want them back? What if one day, I for some mad reason change my mind? It plagued me for ages, I knew I wanted it, but what if it went wrong? All of these questions roared around in my head for months pre-op. Tyler tried to calm me, saying that if I really regretted it later down the line he’d make sure I got a cracking pair of fake tits if I wanted. I laughed but strangely that helped. It wasn’t irreversible completely. I had to remember that. But I also had to remember how much I wanted it. Regardless of what happened, it meant no more binder, and that had to be a good thing. I felt just about prepared when I went down for surgery on the 3rd of December.

But no matter how prepared I felt, there was more than I expected that happened.

Me, almost 4 months post-op and exactly 1 year 3 months on T
Me, almost 4 months post-op and exactly 1 year 3 months on T

I remember coming around very disorientated, I didn’t feel in pain, just with a lot of pressure. Ultimately within minutes of waking up I threw up, in my oxygen mask of all places. It was pretty grim as I had to shout for a nurse (Tyler had waited for three hours in the hospital room for me, in case anything happened or I woke up and he wasn’t there – what a wonderful partner he is – and had finally gone out to smoke when he was able to know I was back in my room safe and alive), and they tried to put the mask back on me but I insisted it wouldn’t be good as it had made me throw up to begin with. It happened again a little while later, and I will say now, those nurses are amazing at getting you changed and changing the bedding in moments without removing you from the bed! I overall reacted pretty bad to the anaesthetic and that wasn’t nice.

When I was finally with it again, I started making sarcastic comments (I can’t remember what it was, but some kind of innuendo to Tyler). It was good, I knew I was over the worst of it and would be okay. I was so high on pain medication most of it was spaced out on the first day, in and out of conciousness, I mostly wanted to just sleep. Tyler stayed as long as he could, but only went home when he needed to and got himself some food. I was then alone for the night.

I don’t remember most of the night, it was a bit blurry. It took me a good while to pass out as I had slept so much in the day, but when I did I remember waking up a few more times, once for medication and the others just in and out of conciousness. The pressure wasn’t great but the pain was being monitored well with the medication and I did hurt moving too much (hell mostly moving at all) so I stayed still as much as possible.

I did try too much the next day. I will openly admit to that now. I tried to lift up my big rucksack when we went to leave, and later in the day I insisted on going out again to a meeting. Yes. I left the house on the first day and went to a group. Because I am smart like that. I did regret it a little, it hurt a lot on the bus and I got a lot of glares from sitting in the disabled part as I had to for most of the Christmas break if I ever left home. I did too much for a few days in fact, if not the first week, which I think was a really bad idea now looking back on it. But I did make sure I had full mobility which is so important post op.

It took a while to regain full strength. At Christmas I could just about carry things, I made it to my mums for the day after boxing day to celebrate Christmas with the family, and I was able to move around a hell of a lot better. But up until then I was still relying on Tyler a lot to carry things for me and generally help me with washing (which is not as fun as it sounds after the third time… I just wanted to wash myself damnit!).

When I returned to University I stupidly (needing the money) went straight into a shift at the busiest bar on campus. I really wish I hadn’t now. Sure I had a good time, but being crashed into by a customer while wiping down the bar was not good, I was glad I was wearing a black top as my chest did bleed a little. Tip 1, do not overdo it when going back to work/education! Tell your boss/relevant people you need to have some provisions in place! I wish I had thought about this. I was pressured somewhat to come back as soon as I could as to not miss too much, and I found myself on the second day having to take the day off because I couldn’t cope and had to sleep all day.

I also got ill a lot easier, this may also have been because of the point of the timeline with my T shots but I am not sure. It could have been anything. I started losing sleep, I got so ill I was up for nearly 4 days in a row and I got put on sleeping pills. I just generally wasn’t good. I started missing lectures and dropping behind in my coursework. My mental health got worse and I generally was not in a good place at all at this point in time. Tip 2, have something in place if you are struggling. Everything that happened was as a result of me stressing out because I wasn’t well enough. Try to talk to people where possible and let them know if you are finding it hard.

Despite everything though, I am now being given the chance to start again and that is great. You have to know that is possible.

Now I just wanted to say a little on what to expect in terms of results post op. I had it in my head that it would look similar to that of guys of a similar build. I thought that because we were around the same size we should get the same sort of results. Tip 3, do not think this. You can not judge it until it happens. I am so happy with my results (see above), it is the best thing I have ever done, I wouldn’t change it for the world, but it was not what I was expecting at all.

What was so different? What have I noticed?

Tip 4, I do not have nipple stalks. This is normal. I freaked out. I did, I have some really gruesome pictures from while my nipples were healing. Ginny (Dr Yelland’s secretary) warned me that most guys freak out with their nipples. I was no different. I have one nipple (my left) which is quite rounded over it all, it’s a pretty nicely oval nipple, but also flat. However my other is even more oval, with a little dip (almost like a badly drawn heart upside down) and it dips in the middle. It is an introverted nipple. This panicked me at first, as this one looked most grim in the pictures (if you really want to see, ask me, I shall not be posting them here as they are much too gruesome!) and I found myself emailing Ginny in a panic, to which I was told, don’t worry, it is normal. Like hell did it look normal, but nobody had warned me of that. So here I am, saying it now. Tip 5, it may look awful, so grim you think it is going to fall off this doesn’t mean it will. I honestly thought mine would fall off and they didn’t. They attached perfectly from the outside in, and it doesn’t look too odd now, just as different as everyone else.

Staying on the topic of nipples, I didn’t think post op it would be possible for my nipples to get hard from the cold or anything else. It just wasn’t something that crossed my mind. Sure, I was hoping I would get some sensation back, but it hadn’t even been something I had thought about when it came to the cold. But mine have started to! I was at a tournament the other weekend and I took off my shirt in the evening for bed and my nipples had both gone semi-hard from the cold. I flicked them in awe and my friends laughed at me, but it was a massive thing for me. Just over 3 months post op, I had semi-hard nipples! I was so happy, it was like a personal achievement. Tip 6, you may gain sensation when you least expect it and in the weirdest ways. You will not be prepared for this.

Now onto scars. Mine are rather large and raised up. This is mostly because (after a year and a bit of binding with bandages) I have messed up my ribs. This meant I could not wear the binder. I was too wide chested to fit into the ones they recommended buying (I have a fairly masculine build aside from my hips, including fairly wide shoulders) so was stuck in two alternate post-op surgery binders. These are not nice. They are tight and uncomfortable and ride up (in my experience). But they are good for the chest. Wear them as much as you can, I did and I do wish I could have worn them more, but it just wasn’t possible. However, I have noticed my scars slowly reducing in size and slowly going down in general. Saying that, I don’t mind scars so much, so that might also be a personal thing. I did not expect them to look so raised though, I figured if part of it was raised that would be normal, not all bar an inch or so as mine are. Tip 7, you may have a lot of hypertrophic or keloid scaring. This can be reduced with the aid of creams/gels/liquids. I use kelcote gel, suggested by Yelland and prescribed by my doctor (this can be difficult to get the GP to agree to as it can be expensive so do speak to Ginny who can write a letter to them to recommend the gel). I also use bio oil alternately, both are really good and have been helping my scars. But you could also make it a bit easier with moisturiser or coco butter and rub that in every day.

Finally I just want to say one thing, kind of the theme of the whole post. Tip 8, expect the unexpected. You wont get everything you are thinking of, you might get more, you might get slightly less. Just remember one thing, every cisgender guy has a different chest too. I expressed my worry of introverted nipples and I had a MAAB guy comment saying that he too had nipples that stayed inwards. He told me that and it has really stuck with me. Not everyone has the same kind of chest, and besides, who would want the same as everyone else? Can you think how boring that would be when you saw someone shirtless?

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5 thoughts on “Top surgery experience and expectations nearly 4 months on…”

  1. As I recall, the first time I met you at the Clare Project, you’d just had top surgery. Props to you for making it to group that week!

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