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How Do I Prepare for FTM Top Surgery? What to Expect

| November 14, 2023 | |



How Do I Prepare for FTM Top Surgery? What to Expect

Preparing for female-to-male (FTM) top surgery is a journey full of ups and downs, hopes and fears, and lots of planning. You’re likely wondering what to expect during surgery and recovery, whether your insurance will cover the costs of the procedure, what to pack, and how soon you’ll be able to enjoy the complete result of your surgery. 

Here’s an introduction to how to prepare, and your FTM top surgeon in Ohio will fill in any gaps: 

How Does FTM Surgery Work

FTM top surgery is a transformative procedure designed to help transgender men achieve a more masculine chest appearance and alleviate gender dysphoria. Sometimes referred to as transmasculine top surgery, the FTM top surgery procedure works by removing both breasts and excess skin, then creating a flat closure and accurately repositioning the nipples and areola to achieve a natural-looking male chest.

Although top surgery is one of the most sought-after treatments for transgender men, it’s common to feel apprehensive about undergoing masculinization surgery. Your surgical team will walk through any of your concerns about top surgery so that you can make informed decisions about your health. They’ll also explain what to expect in terms of aesthetics and timeline for your chest’s development. Undergoing FTM top surgery alongside hormone replacement therapy (HRT) will help you achieve the gender-affirming outcome and chest development you desire.

How Do I Prepare for FTM Surgery?

Preparing for FTM top surgery requires physical, emotional, and administrative planning to ensure the best outcome. Here are a few to-do items leading up to your procedure: 


  • Meet with your care team to ensure you’re in good enough physical health to undergo surgery. You may be required to complete blood work, chest X-rays, and undergo a physical exam.
  • If you’re undergoing HRT or taking other medications, discuss with your care team whether any adjustments are necessary before surgery.
  • Abstain from smoking and drinking alcohol, as it can negatively impact the healing process. 
  • Stay active and eat a nutritious, well-balanced diet in the weeks leading up to your surgery to make your body strong and resilient. 
  • Shave or trim the surgical area as directed by your surgeon. Keep the area clean to reduce the risk of infection.


  • Find a qualified and experienced gender-affirming surgeon who specializes in FTM surgery. Schedule a consultation to discuss your goals and treatment options. 
  • Seek emotional support from friends, family, or a therapist, and have a plan to address any anxiety or stress related to the surgery.


  • The procedure requires taking time off of work, school, and strenuous activities, so you’ll need to make arrangements accordingly and coordinate with a caregiver who can support your recovery by driving you home and helping out with day-to-day tasks. 
  • Ensure you have a clear understanding of the cost of the surgery, including any associated fees for anesthesia, hospital facilities, and post-operative care. Check with your insurance provider to confirm which expenses will be covered.
  • Stock up on supplies you need for recovery, such as loose-fitting clothing, gauze, and over-the-counter pain medications.

Preparing a Recovery Space for FTM Top Surgery

It takes 6-8 weeks for FTM top surgery recovery, so having a space prepared so you can rest when you come home from the procedure is essential. You’ll want to have access to a bed or couch that allows you to both comfortably lie on your back and sit upright. Make sure all your essentials are easily accessible, as you don’t want to put strain on your wounds by reaching too much. Finally, stock up on clear liquids to stay hydrated and groceries that support a high-protein diet to aid in the healing process.

What to Pack for Transmasculine Top Surgery?

Your surgical team will provide most of the items needed for your first few days of recovery, but you should still pack a bag of personal items, including: 

  • Driver’s license or ID
  • Health insurance information
  • Insurance information
  • Loose-fitting, comfortable clothing that is easy to put on and take off, like button-up shirts or zip-up hoodies
  • Slip-on shoes
  • Any essential medications and toiletries you may want or need
  • Entertainment and activities to pass the time during recovery

What to Expect During FTM Top Surgery Recovery

The surgical and healing process is different for everyone. The surgical procedure generally takes about 2-4 hours, and the top surgery recovery takes about 6-8 weeks. However, it can take up to 6 months for the scars to heal and complete results to fully materialize. 

In the immediate weeks following top surgery, you can expect to feel pain, soreness, swelling, bruising, and general discomfort around the incision area. It’s also common to feel extremely fatigued. Your chest will be covered with dressings and possibly drains to remove excess fluids, for which your surgeon will provide care instructions. You must refrain from heavy lifting, reaching, and strenuous activities, as your mobility will be limited, and you must rest as much as possible to promote healing. Gradually, you’ll regain mobility and be able to do light exercises and return to daily activities under the guidance of your care team. 

Gender-affirming top surgery is an emotional journey, even if it’s something you’ve hoped and planned for over many years. During your recovery, you may struggle mentally and emotionally as you adjust to your new body and its post-op top surgery limitations. Remember, these feelings are normal, and your support system can listen and help you work through any mixed emotions you may experience.

Ways to Improve Appearance of Scars after Top Surgery

Minimal scarring can be achieved with proper wound care, over-the-counter scar treatments, plenty of rest and refraining from reaching movements, silicone gel or sheets, and gentle scar massages. All of these remedies should be used only after being cleared with your care team. Keep in mind the best solution for scars is to give them time to heal, which can take several months to several years. 

Finding the Best FTM Top Surgeon in the Midwest

Top surgery is one of the most significant procedures you’ll ever have in your life, so it’s critical to find an FTM top surgeon who you can trust to provide a comfortable experience and the results you desire. Midwest Breast & Aesthetic Surgery is home to trusted OH plastic surgeons who have specific training and experience in gender-affirming surgeries. Contact us to connect with a FTM top surgeon to explore which procedures may be right for you. 

*Our blog entries are written in order to further educate our patients and raise awareness towards topics related to plastic surgery. Any solutions offered on this blog are intended to help possible patients develop educated decisions before undergoing a consultation with our doctors.

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