Update: My September 13 surgery was postponed due to the OR’s being needed for a more pressing surgery. My new date is November 22.
I am scheduled for the third surgery of my transition, all in 2017. On September 13, I will have several procedures done on my face so that I appear female. The process is called Facial Feminization Surgery, or FFS.
I should not be surprised that many people do not know how differently-shaped are male and female faces, since I only became aware of it when I looked seriously into transitioning. Because there are many areas of the face that add up to make us look dramatically different, FFS has many aspects to it.
First, why have FFS? I am having it because the face is the main point of contact we have with each other. Since mine is definitely male-shaped, then add in my height and male-shaped body and large frame, simply growing my hair and dressing as a woman does not allow me to be perceived as a female.
It is not my goal to be beautiful, or even pretty. No, I simply want to be presentable, to have those facial attributes of a female so that when I look in the mirror, and when anyone looks at me, a female is seen.
I still want to look like me—a female version of me.
Beginning at the top of my head, here are the procedures which will make up what Dr. Barry Eppley anticipates to be an eight hour surgery
Dr. Eppley will move my scalp forward as much as he can. Sadly, I’ve lost so much hair, and my hairline is, as he says, no longer really a line, this will not gain me a lot. At this point, I will take what I can get in my effort to stave off the wearing of a wig.
This might be the most distinctive difference in our faces. Males have a prominent brow and lower eyebrows than females. To match a genetic female, my brow bone will be shaved and my eyebrows raised.
Small disks will be placed into the cheeks to provide, well, more cheek. (As if I’m not cheeky enough, right?)
Dr. Eppley found my nose neither unusually large nor real male-looking, but a slight reduction, with a tiny bob, will go a long way toward my entire facial presentation.
You might already know that females generally have larger lips than males. What you likely do not know—I didn’t, before my consultation—is that males have a larger space between the upper lip and nose. To lessen that space and provide me a larger upper lip, a small strip of skin will be removed and the lip lifted.
Chin and jaw
What makes a ruggedly handsome man? Often, it is a strong chin and square jaw. Well, that’s what Hollywood has always thought. They certainly never sought that attribute in a leading lady.
My chin and jaw will be rounded, in order to soften my appearance. Alas, that wedding photographer, who used to say I resemble Clint Eastwood, will never look at me the same.
Okay, this isn’t technically part of my face, and I don’t think there is such a thing as a male neck. Well, there is, if there is an Adam’s Apple—and there is a procedure to shave that so that it no longer protrudes—but I don’t have one, so, yeah, I get a pass on one procedure.
As for my neck, it suffers from my being sixty years old. So, a neck lift it is. I’ll love your assessments as to how many years younger it makes me look.
All those procedures accomplished, what might the final product be? If you do an online search of “facial feminization surgery before and after,” you can find hundreds of examples. I selected three, for comment.
These before and after shots, above, nicely demonstrate the differences in the major areas—brow, nose, and chin. Imagine the person in the before pictures wearing makeup and hoping to be perceived as a female. This person was a nice looking guy, but now she has a lovely face which only will be perceived as female. I would gladly take a sixty-year-old version of this.
I selected the one, above, because the hairline is similar to mine. The wig makes such a difference that the surgery is almost lost. But, look closely at the key areas. The changes are remarkable.
I selected this three-photo image to show what I do not desire, a change so dramatic that I would no longer resemble me. Well, that’s what I see—a tremendously different person.
It pains me to post the following two pictures of myself, taken the day I am posting this, in which I deliberately did not smile and removed my glasses so as to show exactly that with which Dr. Eppley is going to be working.
The silly person in me simply has to conclude: Dr. Eppley has his work cut out for him, and I can only improve from here.
FFS, here we come!