When I made the decision to seek medical advice to start Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) I sort of knew that my decision included having some surgical facial procedures “to soften” my features. That was kind of a deal I made with myself.  But back in late 2015 I didn’t have a timeline or any concrete knowledge about the subject of  Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS). I had to start from learning the basics, all the way to meeting with surgeons that could operate on me.

I Had Little Background

A number of years ago, long before I had any idea that in late 2015 I would make the huge decision to present full time as female, I did a bit of poking around FFS. I found the websites of a few surgeons that were well known for FFS. Back then the whole idea was overwhelming to me. Reading through the surgeons’ websites about the way they perform the procedures was totally alien. How could anyone submit themselves to such brutal procedures? I thought. But looking at how sutil and nice some of the results were, and seeing all those beautiful women that had FFS, I was intrigued.  Nevertheless, I didn’t even think of considering FFS for me because then HRT and being full time was not in the cards for me. It was more curiosity of what other people had gone through to look the way they wanted or in some cases needed.

Fast forward to the first quarter of 2016. At that point I had been a few months on HRT, had some laser hair removal sessions (to remove the beard), was growing my wardrobe and started to present female at work. My head was on a roll about improving my presentation and I found myself reading more in-depth about FFS. As before, reading about the clinical procedures, seeing animations and diagrams I though they were gruesome and not for me. I first thought they were too invasive and aggressive. But the further I read and I learnt about the procedures, the more comfortable I became with the idea.  I think the drive was seeing other girls that had gone before me and how different and better they looked.

So Many Kinds of Procedures

The first question I had was which procedures would help my particular face the most. I had no clue. Looking at the surgeons’ websites I thought I wanted all, which can be super extensive and in many cases somewhat risky. In fact there was one thing I knew I wanted to change from my face and that was the hairline. I am convinced that the shape of the hairline is one of the most important facial gender markers, and though my hairline hadn’t receded too much, it had a male trait to it. The question I had was how to change it, since there are a couple of ways (scalp advancement or hair transplant or a combination of both).

So, here I was, with no clue where to begin. I only knew I wanted “to soften” my face, and part of that implied changing my hairline. But where to go from there?  The medical websites that touched on FFS explain the procedures, but understandably they don’t tell you what procedures are recommended for what facial characteristics. Watching anecdotal videos on YouTube was useless for me because none of the girls I saw were FFS professionals and I don’t know these YouTubers. My very first step was to ask a girlfriend that always jokes that she put her surgeon’s children through university from all the business she’d given him. I did’t ask her what to get done, but rather I asked her for the name of her surgeon. Unexpectedly she gave me the name of 3 surgeons. Now I had some names to search and contact to ask for a PROFESSIONAL opinion.

Contacting The Surgeons For Consultations

I had the name of 3 local surgeons that specialize in rhinoplasties (“nose jobs” – I hate that term). For me it was hard contacting them; some sort of insecurity about the idea of surgery. I couldn’t pick up the phone and call them, I didn’t feel comfortable doing that, so I contacted them via their web contact forms. In little time the patient coordinators for 2 of the surgeons called back and made arrangements with me for in-person consultations. I thought that I’d be able to get these consultations that same week, or the week after, but I was not expecting that it would take weeks to get to see the surgeons.  I figure they’re always very busy. While waiting to see these two local surgeons I gather the courage to contact 2 of the most experienced and recognized FFS surgeons in the world via their web forms to setup consultations via videoconferencing.

My first thoughts were to check out the local surgeons, and if they seemed good to me I would prefer having surgery locally. That way wouldn’t have to travel, could recover at home and any issue I could just go see the surgeons. But I wasn’t sure if there were local surgeons with the kind of experience and knowledge I was looking for.

After all, this is my face we’re talking about here!

While waiting to meet the local surgeons I also contacted Virtual FFS and requested a set of photos to be modified. At Virtual FFS you send a specific set of photos and they write a report of which procedures would benefit you with the objective of reducing the male markers on your face. They also simulate what those procedures could look like on your own photos. For me the report was pivotal to decide what procedures to get, and the simulated images were super useful to see how little my face would/could change, but how powerful those changes could be. Just like when making the consultation bookings with the surgeons, Virtual FFS took a number of weeks due to the workload they have.

As I was making these bookings to speak with the plastic surgeons I also contacted and booked consultations with two local hair transplant surgeons to answer my question of which method would be best to change my hairline. As with the plastic surgeons, I wanted to hear and meet the surgeons that could potentially operate on me. I wanted a PROFESSIONAL opinion, and I wanted to get a sense of the person. One thing is seeing their work and their marketing materials on their websites, and the other is speaking with them in person, as they see you and touch you.

At this point it was early April 2016. I was going to be meeting locally 2 hair transplant surgeons and 2 plastic surgeons. Then I was to have Skype videoconferences with 2 well known FFS surgeons abroad, and was waiting for Virtual FFS’ report and simulated images. I was really nervous and also excited to be able to answer my questions. It was now the waiting game to meet with these professionals.

No Holding Back

Even though I didn’t have a timeline on when to get FFS or even knowing for certain that FFS was for me, a big part of me wanted to move forward and arrange everything for surgery. But it wasn’t always easy. I felt something like shame and doubts. I didn’t know how family and friends would react to the idea of surgery. It’s a major step and as much as I say that I don’t care what people say or think, there is always the initial doubt. It really took me some self-convincing to start contacting the surgeons to setup the consultations.

For me it had to be a “slow” process. I use quotes because it felt slow to me, but in reality it wasn’t that slow. From the very beginning I started sharing my ideas and my plans with my mum and my aunt. With my mum was harder just because how close we are, but involving her also helped me digest what I was getting into. As I eased my mum into my plans, I also eased myself.  I kept telling her and telling myself, that I was first looking to meet with the surgeons for their professional opinion, not to go an arrange for surgery ASAP.  I also kept telling her that I wanted “a softer” face, not a different face. As I was able to verbalize to her what I had in mind I was able to better understand what I wanted and what I was doing.

From breaking my own barriers back in 2011 I knew that if I wanted to go through surgery I could do so with little regards to what other people though. Still it was somewhat of a mental effort to not hold back and contact the surgeons, share my ideas and plans with my mum and aunt, and eventually meet the surgeons.

And I did it!

The next step was to meet with each of the surgeons and later decided where to have surgery.