It’s been a year since I put up pictures of my chest for the world to see. And it’s hard to believe that it’s been only 2 years since there was anything else there.
Hypertrophic Scar Treatment
I get a lot of questions about the scars. While most people’s scars turn a pinkish-white after 2 years, mine still look as if I’m fresh out of surgery, because they became hypertrophic.
Hypertrophic (also known as keloid) scars are thicker and raised instead of smooth, like a piece of red yarn laid over my chest, and they will continue to be purple and red instead of fading away. Moreover, the incisions no longer look like a clean straight line, instead the scars look rather jagged around the edges. Note that this is an entirely genetic condition and the surgeon or technique has no bearing whatsoever on whether you get hypertrophic scars or not.
Recommended Treatment for Scars
What I recommend above anything else for regular and hypertrophic scar treatment is silicone; specifically, silicone strips and silicone gel. Both products are expensive, but they last a long time, and are the only thing I found to be effective and actually produce results. For the strips, I’d cut each one in half width and lengthwise and replaced them weekly, so a package of 12 would last me 24 weeks. With $99 I bought three tubes of gel and each has lasted for well over 6 months.
The second thing I recommend is cortisone injections. I’ve had 3 rounds so far. My scars flattened within a few days, though the earlier you start the better results you’ll get. They’re not as painful as people say (hardly hurt at all), and my insurance covered them.
Lastly, I’ve also had 3 rounds of laser treatment. I wasn’t originally going to do this, but the dermatologist I was referred to was trying out a new laser and he asked me to be the guinea pig. So the first round was free, but didn’t really work. He then recommended the IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) Laser for reducing the color on my scars. By the 18-month mark scars should already be white, but instead mine are still bright purple and red.
So I gave it a shot, especially since he gave me a deep discount for helping him out the first time. While my scars are still not faded, there is a considerable difference in color; these days they tend to appear more purplish-pinkish rather than deep purple-reddish. Although I have seen results, I can’t conclusive whether the laser is recommended or worth it in all cases.
A lot of the times therapists and doctors will stress that surgery is not the ultimate solution to navigating gender issues, and I agree it’s not. But boy did it make a huge difference! There aren’t enough words to express how much top surgery changed my life for the better. I’m extremely grateful for the chance that presented itself to me, and for the courage I had to take it. Even if I now have huge (and sometimes embarrassing) scars across my chest, I would proudly make that choice over and over.
Top Surgery for Non-Male Identified people
When I set out to blog about my top surgery, I never imagined that my blog would explode into something more. My intention was simply to document my story as a non-male identified person getting top surgery, as proof that it was possible. Secondarily I hoped it would become into a resource people could turn to to get information and connect with others.
Whether they are genderqueer, female-identified, FAAB-unspecified, neutrois, or FTM, top surgery is still the number one topic readers have questions on. There isn’t a week that goes by where I don’t get an email about someone who is ecstatic to learn that people like us exist, and that top surgery is a realistic option for them. I now understand the importance of maintaining this online presence, and of others’ continued efforts to become visible, since not just discovering oneself but the possibility of surgery can indeed be so life changing.
Ultimately, I am thankful for that random crazy idea I had about putting up half-naked pictures of myself for the world to see. Even though I still question my sanity, I’m glad I did it, and will keep doing it.
So here’s the part you probably came to see: my lovely chest. I took the 2 year pictures across 2 days and 2 different lighting schemes, so you can see the variation and fluctuation in scar color. Some days they’re pinkish, some days purplish, but I always make sure my boxers are the brightest thing in the frame. (Oh I’ll try and get some sun in next time. Seriously, I need a vacation!)