Top Surgery: 2 Years Post-op

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

Silicone

What I recommend above anything else for regular and hypertrophic scar treatment is silicone; specifically, Scar Away 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.

Cortisone Shots

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.

Laser

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.

Happiness

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.

Pictures

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!)

Full 2 Year Timeline

Side-by-Side

10 responses to “Top Surgery: 2 Years Post-op

  1. Awesome post! Especially the part about happiness. Kudos to you for daring to do what it takes to be happy and for telling the world about it. Neither one is easy and both are very scary. I wish you all the best in your journey!

  2. Hey there. Can you offer insight into your experience with cortisone shots? Did you go to a dermatologist? How was the treatment “coded” for your insurance to cover it? I’m looking into getting shots for my own hypertrophic scars, and am interested in hearing about your experience. Thanks!

    • My first primary care doctor was an MD and she did the shots herself. I have no idea how she coded it, but I was never billed for it. My second primary care doctor is an NP, so she referred me to a dermatologist. Again, I just payed the co-pay for my insurance. Perhaps ask your doctor about this, or call up your insurance.

      As for how they work – AMAZING. My scars were flattened out within a few weeks. I’ve had 3 rounds total and they are now almost entirely flat. Totally worth it, even if I had to pay for them I would.

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  5. This might sound like a silly question but how do they make nipples look like a mans? I am very interested in top surgery (I am genderqueer and hate my boobs) but haven’t researched it much yet.

    • Generally they cut around the areola to make them smaller. Then, if necessary, your nipples are trimmed as well. There are a couple of videos on youtube demonstrating this.

  6. I have a question that’s been scaring me for a while. I’m kind of terrified of surgery but top surgery is something I want and think I need but I’m afraid of loosing nipple sensation and of being weirded out when I’m not wearing a binder or something to hold down chest since I’ve been doing it for so long. So my question is: did you loose all nipple sensation with inverted t and do you feel odd not having something holding your chest down like does your chest still bounce or catch on things? (I have a huge chest so even in a brand new binder I can feel them bounce and I’m afraid that’ll never go away)

    • At first it was odd not to wear a binder and have the compression! But you get used to it, in a nice way. The other questions are addressed in my other more recent posts about top surgery.

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