I got top surgery last month, and here are a few of my thoughts on the non-physical parts of recovery:
- I feel more comfortable getting dressed in the morning because I don’t have to worry about whether the shirt will accentuate my chest or show my binder
- I felt weird about my chest in the first few days post-op, sort of uneasy about it and a bit disconnected, like it wasn’t really my chest.
- Once both drains were removed, I suddenly became totally comfortable with my chest as if everything snapped into place and it became my body again. I used to feel a bit dissociated from my chest before surgery, like looking in a mirror felt weird because what I was seeing just didn’t match how I pictured myself in my head and now it does. Taking selfies also helped me get used to what it looks like.
- I was scared that I would need a revision when I saw the indent on my left side and it prompted me to worry for a bit that I’d regret having had the surgery and my anxiety was like !!!
- (It turned out that it was just the drain site and the drain was higher up in my chest than I thought it would be (a few inches higher than my nipple and not near the double incisions and it got less indented when the drain came out)
- I was so happy one night thinking about all the years in my future I’ll be able to live without a chest and I cried because now I can go to the water park and to the pool and I can just wake up in the morning and get dressed without seeing my chest in my shirt and feeling bad about it
- I feel freed. I never have to look down and see my chest and be surprised and feel shitty. I keep checking my chest to see if it’s obvious out of habit and seeing that it’s flat just cheers me up.
- I expected that having top surgery would change how I interacted with people daily and make me pass more, but it’s been about 6 weeks since surgery and I only passed a few times despite a ton of interactions with different people. It was a bit disappointing, but I shouldn’t have expected it to change because from the point of view of the train conductor who missy’d me I’d mostly look the same before surgery wearing a binder as I did after surgery without a binder, and it shows that my passing is linked to other factors more strongly than my chest. Pre-op I’d have no chance passing without a binder, and post-op removes that factor but it seems that without a chest as an indicator people fall back to all the other things that gender me like my high voice and feminine face– so back to not passing.
- The changes I’ve experienced have been primarily emotional within myself and not related to any external validation as it hasn’t changed my passing as mentioned before. I do believe that it’ll make me more safe in male spaces if I get clocked as not a guy, but I don’t think it’ll change how I move in female spaces as some women have smaller chests or have had double mastectomies to prevent cancer so it shouldn’t prevent me from being read as a woman either.
- I’ve been focusing on this for so long and using so much of my time and effort and energy to make it happen that I felt sort of aimless now that I’ve achieved what’s been the biggest and most ultimate goal so far in my life.
- My chest dysphoria isn’t a factor any longer so I don’t have to spend painful hour after hour trying to resist the urge to self-harm on my chest or cut it off myself which was how I spent a lot of nights pre-up. Top surgery hasn’t been a panacea that’s solved all my problems, but it made 1 thing a little better and that’s worth it.
- For the first time I Really was able to picture myself having a future. Not what I’d be doing or a career or anything, but just being able to picture my physical body being older than it is now. Just being able to imagine growing up and looking like a young adult was really hard for me before, and I just sort of figured I’d be dead by then, like it was inevitable and completely unavoidable. I think that’s mostly my depression, and I’m currently in a better place where I’m able to manage it better for the right now.
- I want to show my chest off to everyone and it’s the most body-confident I’ve felt in a while. I posted a picture on Instagram, but I’m worried about how people will react to the scars and I don’t want to get any negativity from folks who don’t like my results and feel like it’s okay to comment on that so I haven’t posted anything on Facebook or this account.
- I don’t feel “sexy” right now because I’m healing, but I feel like me, like how I should be, and I’m still delighted with it like the honeymoon phase of a relationship where everything is new and exciting and you just want to show pictures of you and say how proud and happy you are.
- I had a few days of body insecurity when I realized I could see my stomach now that my chest is gone and I’ve gained a bit of weight and it shows a bit although I’m not overweight. It’s something I’m trying to get used to because I’m going to try to start exercising for the first time in like 4 or 5 years once I’m healed more, but I am trying to put the emphasis on just being active and eating healthy and not losing weight because there’s nothing wrong with a bit of chub and when I try to lose weight it usually ends up with some disordered behavior.
- I do feel like my focus has shifted now to lower surgery, but my lower dysphoria hasn’t increased- I thought it would be like my top dysphoria converted to bottom dysphoria like how energy can’t be created or dystroyed. It’s been more like now that I’ve dealt with the top dysphoria there’s less bothering me so I can shift my attention to my lower dysphoria like when you do the big project assignment that’s really been dragging down your grade and then you’re passing the class but you notice that your grade still isn’t an A and then you start planning about doing the missing homework paper that’s worth less than the project. If that makes sense.
- Aw yeah, I can wear tank tops! And shirts with larger collars! I don’t have to worry about my binder showing!
- Not having to wear the ace bandage is nice because when I had to wear it I felt like I was still pre-op and binding so it didn’t feel as real in my mind.
- My left nipple isn’t healed yet and it makes me anxious but it isn’t a debilitating anxiety, just a bit too much worrying about it.
- I’m suddenly more comfortable with showering and taking baths, so my hygiene is getting better than it was, which I’m sure is a delight to those around me.
- I wish I didn’t develop a chest in the first place and I wish I didn’t need to get this surgery at all, but that’s not the way things are and because I did grow a chest so this was the best choice for me.
- I started scar care today by using scar-away strips. I’m 6 weeks post-op as of today.
I’m happy to try to answer any questions someone might have, but I made a top surgery page so check there before you ask me because there’s a chance your question is covered in that info.
I have more posts on my top surgery recovery here.