Facial Feminization Surgery – Day 19

Day 8 after round 2 of surgery: (lowering the hairline, brow reduction (which includes “opening” eyes by reducing the orbital bones). Day 19 since the first round of surgery.

Additional photo with wig, which my surgeon requested (so that he can compare this photo to the pre-surgery photos, where I was wearing it). I definitely look forward to wearing my own hear one day, once it grows out more, but in the interim I definitely look beter with it. Unfortunately, while my hair is swavy, it’s also really fine, so I won’t ever be able to get the some volume as the wig.

I’m Still Alive And Well, I Think

The second surgery was a lot easier physically, but it’s taking longer to recover.

Partly I used up a lot of reserves before the second surgery, so the well’s been a bit dry.

Partly I’ve had trouble sleeping. Some of that is just inherent from having a nose job — the swelling in your nasal passages makes it tough to breathe through your nose, so most people don’t sleep well for several days post-surgery. Worse in my case, since I have sleep apnea, although I’m able to use the mask for my CPAP machine now, which helps me breathe during the night.

One of the doctors did a follow-up exam on Sunday morning and said I was healing really well, with comparatively little swelling. But I’ve been pretty tired, so I’ve spent the last week napping a lot during the day.

Lower-face swelling is mostly going away, as well as the remaining bruising. Still got some very noticeable black eyes, although they’re healing faster than after the first surgery. My nose is still quite swollen, which will take at least another week or two to not be noticeable to the casual observer (and which won’t photograph well for about three months). But there’s still swelling in the lower half of my face, and under the jawline, and my new cheekbones will probably become more prominent when that goes away. Brows are a bit too high at the moment, because they’ll “settle” downward in the coming weeks.

It is really a pretty radical change, but still looks like me. I’m extremely happy with the results.

Stitches will come out before I leave on the 31st. I’m flying to Panama that day, and since I need to change planes there anyway, I’m staying there one day for a layover and flying to SFO on the 2nd. I’d like to do a little sightseeing if I can, but the layover is mainly so I can rest if I need to, and to also break up the flights, which is safely from a blood clot risk POV. Also each flight is about 7 hours, and doing it in one day on the way down left me pretty wiped out.

Facial Feminization Surgery – Day 18

Day 7 after round 2 of surgery: (lowering the hairline, brow reduction (which includes “opening” eyes by reducing the orbital bones). Day 18 since the first round of surgery.

Bruising near the corners of my mouth is finally going away, yay! and the right eye is getting closer to normal day by day. Around/under the jaw still has some puffiness, particularly toward the back of the jaw. But I think we’re starting to get a pretty good idea what the final jawline will look like.

Still really tired and low-energy this morning. What I wouldn’t do for a big American-style breakfast. My body is really craving protein.

Facial Feminization Surgery – Day 17

Day 6 after round 2 of surgery: (lowering the hairline, brow reduction (which includes “opening” eyes by reducing the orbital bones). Day 17 since the first round of surgery.

Doctor came by today and removed the nose split — yippee! I’m getting to the point where I’ll no longer scare small children, plus it’s easier to breathe.

Hard to tell exactly what shape my nose will end up — there will be noticeable swelling for at least another week or two, and the nose won’t photograph well for three months. But it seems like it might be a bit thinner with a bit more definition. We’ll see. The tip is a little saggy, but I’m sure that’s due to swelling and will go away.

They definitely did remove the “dorsal hump” (a sex differentiator in my ethnic group), as well as reduce the overall size and the angle of the tip (also anatomical sex differentiators).

Thankfully, I didn’t have a strong brow ridge to begin with, but that’s gone, and my forehead definitely now has the slightly different slope to it that females have. Males typically have a flat spot slightly above the brows, whereas females have a smooth curve.

The distance between the top of the upper lip and bottom of the nose is visibly smaller — although it’s a bit hard to say if there will be changes when the swelling goes down.

All these are the subtle cues we unconsciously use to decide if someone is male or female.

Is It All Worth It?

People have asked me if I’m happy with the changes in my face so far.

The answer is yes, definitely yes. It’s far beyond what I was expecting. Originally my hopes were just to undo what testosterone did to my face, but I’m feeling much more attractive now (while still looking like “me”).

Some people have temporary “what have I done?” reactions (changing your face is a bit primal). Not me. When I look at photos from before surgery, that’s that face which looks odd and “not quite me” now.

I’ll be interested to see what my nose looks like once the splint comes off. Every surgeon I consulted said to expect limited results since the skin is really thick and that limits how much reshaping they can do (essentially the skin drapes over the cartilage like fabric, and thicker skin is stiffer).

The changes will probably far more noticeable in profile view (which is hard for me to take photos of), since the main goal was to reduce the size to make it more proportionate, as well as removing the “dorsal hump” which is a male/female anatomical difference among people of my ethnicity, and some subtle changes to the angle of the tip of the nose, which is also a male/female anatomical difference.

Plus in general, even though the swelling goes down enough in 2-3 weeks that a casual observer won’t know that you’ve had a nose job done, apparently the nose doesn’t photograph well for up to three months (when 70-80% of the swelling is gone).

Facial Feminization Surgery – Day 16

Day 5 after round 2 of surgery: (lowering the hairline, brow reduction (which includes “opening” eyes by reducing the orbital bones). Day 16 since the first round of surgery.

Eyes are definitely getting better. Hopefully the bruising will be gone by the time I start heading home on the 31st. (On the 31st I fly to Panama, then spend a day there, then fly the remaining leg home on the 2nd.)

It’s 90 today and I’m not handling the heat + humidity that well. Sleep deprivation is adding up, although I was able to sleep a couple during the day and will go back to sleep shortly.

But I had to force myself to go out and get something to eat. It can be bit hard to tell at time whether I’m weak due to recovery, low blood sugar or just not having eaten enough. (I actually end up having to eat something at the apartment first to get enough short-term energy to walk a block or two to the nearby restaurants.)

Thankfully the sandwich I got is huge (enough for two meals), so I brought the remaining half home with me, so there’s something more substantial to eat when needed.

Facial Feminization Surgery – Day 15

Day 4 after round 2 of surgery: (lowering the hairline, brow reduction (which includes “opening” eyes by reducing the orbital bones). Day 15 since the first round of surgery.

Right eye is definitely less swollen today, although it’s got a ways to go. The other bruising around the eyes seems to be healing faster. Since much of the facial swelling has gone done, I’m guessing my body is better able to get rid of the excess fluids.

I’m annoyed by the two areas of bruising next to the side of my mouth, that have been fairly persistent. Patience, patience…

Facial Feminization Surgery – Day 14

Day 3 after round 2 of surgery: (lowering the hairline, brow reduction (which includes “opening” eyes by reducing the orbital bones). Head bandages removed, pre-shower hair #messyhairdontcare (Day 14 since the first round of surgery.)

Getting a good sense of my new face, through the swelling and stitches. I’m liking it. As mentioned before, when I look at photos of my pre-surgery face, that’s the one that now feels odd and unfamiliar.

A little surprised by the continued bruising near the corners of my mouth, but those areas have felt a bit puffy. Now that the head bandages are off, it’ll be a lot easier to start massaging them again to get the remaining fluids out.

We’ll see how well that hairline scar is hidden when my hair is forward. Also really curious to see how the lowered hairline affects my ability to style things in front, which has been difficult to do.

One of the doctors came by for a follow up exam. He said I was healing really well, removed the head bandages — and gave me clearance to take a shower and wash my hair.

You have no idea how happy that makes me.

Later in the day…

14 oz. tenderloin steak: $15
Ginormous side of fries: $5
Bottled water: $2.50

No longer wanting to immediately devour everything in sight: Priceless.

Yes, it is possible to get tired of steak.

But still headed to the steakhouse tonight anyway, my body is craving red meat.

Today, I realized that at the moment, I really need to have an extra meal each day, since the Argentines only do light Continental-style breakfasts, and that that combined with trying to have more salads and lighter lunches, wasn’t providing my body with enough heartier food needed to recover from the two surgeries.

And yeah, Argentina is a place where it’s a bit of challenge to eat healthy, since it’s basically steak and potatoes, pizza and pasta here. I pity any vegetarians here.

When The Well Runs Dry

Wow, that was hard, all-reserves depleted crash…

As mentioned, last night I could only sleep for maybe an hour at a time because there was still packing in my nose from Monday’s surgery, which made it hard to breathe.

The good news is that I was able to remove it by mid-day, which helped a lot, and I’d gotten a good tip about using saline spray to keep the inside of your nose from drying out and crusting up (which can make it hard to breathe).

But needless to say I was really tired, and decided to only go to the closest restaurant a block away to get something to eat, and not try to push farther.

Good decision. Usually, it’s hard for me to do much more than nap in the afternoons, between the heat, the traffic noise and my being light sensitive. Not today. I crashed out hard for six hours, and woke up exhausted.

I probably could go back to sleep, but I don’t want to end up waking up in the middle of the night and getting my sleep cycles all screwed up, plus I need to start eating some of the food I’ve got around to house to build up a small amount of energy so that I can go down to the market next door, and get some more food for the apartment, and then eat a bit more later on, so I’ve got the energy get some dinner.

A wise friend, who had the same surgery down here, said it’s like you have multiple reservoirs of energy: short-term (minutes), medium-term (hours), long-term (days), longer-term (weeks) and so on. You can only take from the short-term one, but it re-fills gradually from the others. After surgery, it’s like a drought came and dried up the medium- and long-term reservoirs, so now they’re a lot lower. It all feels normal… until the short-term one doesn’t refill. It takes time for the energy to flow from way back in the longer-term reservoirs, and in the meantime you just have to wait. As you heal, gradually you refill out the nearer reservoirs and things gradually return to normal. But the refilling takes time, and it’s easy to think “I’m back!” when you’re not quite, yet.

I definitely know what she means now. So yeah, despite a renewed bout of cabin fever, I’d being patient and resting hard.

Facial Feminization Surgery – Day 13

Day 2 after round 2 of surgery: (lowering the hairline, brow reduction (which includes “opening” eyes by reducing the orbital bones). Head bandages temporarily pushed back so the brow line is visible.

My surgeon said he removed a bit more than 3/4-inch of scalp at the brow line, but looks like that was probably more in the “corners” of where there was receding hair on the sides, although the center is a bit lower as well. I was worried he might’ve gone a little low, since when I get back, I’ll do a second round of hair transplants to cover the hairline scar, but looks like there’s plenty of room to do that. The second hair transplant will also fill in the remaining corners to “round off” the hairline, although it’ll take months for the hair to grow back after being transplanted.

As mentioned, the brows are intentionally slightly high, since they’ll “settle” downward in the coming weeks.

Black eyes seem a bit better, although oddly I’ve now got some bruising on the side of my cheek. Go figure.

In general, it’s not really painful. (Nose jobs usually aren’t.) There is a bit of soreness along the side of my head where the brownie incisions end. Most my facial just feels odd again. Not unsurprisingly, my my forehead, and particularly the sides of my forehead feel really tight.

Oh, and can I tell you just how amazingly annoying it is to not be able to blow your nose.* Only three more weeks to go….

* This is normal post-op stuff after rhinoplasty, but in my case, it’s extra important because — to reduce the male brow ridge — my surgeon removed good chunk of the frontal bone over my sinuses, and then reset it at a different angle. So too much air pressure in the sinuses can be really problematic.

Last night was long, long night…. Woke up about once an hour or so.

Besides just being exhausted, I’m pretty weak and definitely ravenous. My body really needs energy to heal itself. After a round of cold packs and we’ll see if I can make it across the street to the cafe for coffee and croissants (the Argentines generally just do a light Continental-style breakfast).

TMI, post-surgical stuff….

This morning I discovered the hard way that it’s too soon to remove the nasal packing. Nothing particularly bad happened, just continued bleeding, so I stuffed some replacement cotton in there. Good side is that I really should’ve changed it last night, so hopefully this time wherever the bleeding is coming from will get a chance to dry out and heal.

Black eye is looking a bit better, and I took a peek at the hairline stitches, which look good. My surgeon did a nice job of lowering the hairline, but the scar is right in front of the hairline, so it’s going to be pretty obvious until the second round of hair transplants cover it up. (Hairline scars never heal well because the forehead is under tension and moves a lot — both of which are detrimental to scars healing well.)