Leaving our house at 4:35 a.m. on Wednesday, November 22, Julie and I headed to IU North hospital, in Carmel, which is on the north side of Indianapolis, for my facial feminization surgery with Dr. Barry Eppley. https://www.eppleyplasticsurgery.com/
Just before 7:00 a.m., Dr. Eppley and his two fellows—doctors training in this plastic surgery specialty—entered my pre-op room, to prep me for what would be a long day of work for the doctor. As with my surgeries in January and April, I was confident, not at all nervous, and in good spirits. Dr. Eppley, too, was in fine fettle. He and I played to our audience of Julie and the two fellows, and laughter ensued as the marking of my face began.
That’s Dr. Eppley’s hands, after he made the first mark. I was reacting to his regular comment, that I don’t really have a hairline. Even so, he was going to work to move my scalp forward all that he could. He quipped, “A good thing about your being older is that your scalp is looser.” Gee, thanks, Doc.
It never occurred to me to get a photo of Dr. Eppley, so I grabbed one off the internet.
Dr. E’s robust personality is not captured in this image. I’m pleased to tell you that he is good-natured, laughs easily, and thoroughly addresses every question and concern.
I was able to tell that his markings became ridiculous. He replied, “Oh, these are only to tell me where I am working. I will redraw them in surgery.” Whew. My fear subsided, that I would have to be taking up work as a clown. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
The job completed, Dr. E soon would be cutting at my chin and cheeks and neck, up to my ears, all around my mouth, above my eyes, at at my so-called hairline. (Ooo, I have a new line to use: “Yes, folks, I was up to my ears in surgery!”)
What of my nose, you’re wondering? Yes, I had intended to have a nose job. From the start, Dr. E commented—and I knew, from my own observation—that my nose was not overly large, and that it could receive a pass, or slight work and a bit of a bob on its tip. Only a week before surgery, I decided to leave it alone. Why? It always felt like it would be too much, to have too cute of a nose. Now, post-op, observing myself, I feel good about my decision. Besides, in these post-op days, it is nice to have one spot on my face that is not numb or sore, which I can touch without trepidation.
Into surgery we went. Eight hours later, out of surgery I came. Before I awoke, Julie snapped the first pics, of which the following is best.
No swelling or black-and-blue having set in, I look kinda cute—sort of Nanook of the North cute. Well, I think so anyway, so shush yourselves.
In January, my vocal cord surgery was only a few hours. I awoke quite easily from the anesthesia. In April, my sex reassignment/gender affirming surgery was more than six hours. Waking up from that, I was in and out for a few hours before I finally felt lucid.
This surgery went a full eight hours. They tell me that I was responsive when admitted to my room from the OR, but I have no recollection. It was a couple of hours before my first attempts at awaking, and each try was short-lived. I simply could not keep my eyes open, and my left eye watered so badly that I could barely see. (The watering persisted for two days, a most frustrating thing.)
It was now night and, except for the nurse and CNA coming in every couple of hours to check my blood pressure, or to give me meds, or to be sure to make enough light and noise so that Julie would never be able to get decent rest on the pretty decent couch which lined the spot under the window, I was left to sleep. Finally, by 5:00 a.m., I was able to wake up, open my eyes, and remain awake. I had my first food—the only time plain red Jello tastes good—and soon I was asking when I could be discharged.
At 7:30, Dr. Eppley entered. It was Thanksgiving Day, and he soon would head out of town to spend the holiday weekend with family. Even so, he stayed a good long time with us, going over everything, answering our questions, and making enjoyable conversation.
He removed the white head dressing and began inspecting his work. My ears were caked with blood. Above, he’s cleaning it out.
At the end of this post, I will place before and after pictures for comparison, but you can see the difference in my eyebrows. They now sit above their former position, and Dr. E flared them up at the ends.
This one, above, has become my favorite picture. My neck no longer sags. My forehead no longer juts out as males’ do. My entire profile looks smooth, akin to a typical female.
Dr. E inspected every stitch point. As, in this pic, I see him checking around my eyes, I am reminded that I had created a stir for the nurse when I vomited late Wednesday night. It was soon after I had my first sips of water. As happened to me in April, my stomach rejected it. The nurse sort of freaked, when I puked.
Because of all of my face stitches, the concern was that I would have a hematoma, the breaking of a blood vessel at one or more of the stitches, caused by my violent retches, of which there were three. She placed a call to Dr. E. Thankfully, my face held. When Dr E talked of it Thursday morning, it was obvious that he felt I had dodged a bullet. Score one for my nimble reflexes, or hearty German heritage, or good clean living. Yeah, that last one.
In order to hold my neck in place, Dr. E produced this dreadful face stocking, below. It was so tight, he had to rip it at the seam to get it to fit. (Really, people, do I look like a medium?)
Don’t worry, it looks way more comfortable than it was. Seriously, it was okay until the last half of day two. Thankfully, I was allowed to remove it on Saturday. What’s the first thing I did after that? I took a shower! Oh, glorious stream of hot water, how I missed you!
Before I got to Saturday, I had to experience Friday. I awoke to swelling and bruising, and it grew worse throughout the day. I had trouble seeing, especially from my left eye, which is my good eye. Not only is the vision bad in my right eye—a few years ago, it went bad over a very short period—it also has a cataract which is nearly ripe for the removing. So, to have my left eye more swollen and watering, well, you can finish this sentence.
The numbness now also had settled in. From Friday to now, as I type this Sunday morning, I went numb across my mouth, extending well outside of my lips—that’s at least forty stitches encircling my lips, kids, and they all have to be removed. Woo hoo!—all across my brow line, the top of my head (you all were right: I’m a numb skull), my jaws, and at my ears.
While the pain meds are doing their job, there’s nothing that can change the feeling of the numbness. It’s just plain uncomfortable. My patience is being put to good use. I’ve only had one little moment of crying, the frustration getting to me this morning.
I tried to smile for this picture, which I took Saturday morning. It was physically impossible for me to pull it off. I felt exactly as I look. (But you ought to see the other guy! That’s right, did I show him. That punk, thinking he could take a sixty-year-old who has nimble reflexes, a hearty German heritage, and excels at good clean living.)
While I am allowed to shower, I cannot shampoo my hair. Plus, I have stitches all over my scalp. Brushing my hair has been an exercise in futility.
Note the bruising under my eyes has deepened. Other than that, I have not noticed any worsening of the swelling, or anything else.
A question for you. When one is not done with the job of electrolysis, meaning that after a few days what white whiskers are left are going to be looking really scraggly, how does it work to shave a numb face? I have the answer for you: very carefully. In the picture, above, which is from Sunday morning, can you tell that I shaved? Come on, people—I got all gussied up just for you! Harrumph.
Onto the direct comparisons. The three key areas are remarkable in their change: 1) brow shave and lift, 2) lip enhancement, and 3) face lift.
Now, the side view. My neck has been tightened and jowls are gone. My formerly jutting brow is smooth. And I think my old nose is holding its own, just fine.
That’s it for now, four days post-op.
Putting this together has been marvelously therapeutic. I was pretty down, all morning, knowing that I had another day of misery and boredom ahead of me, with the prospects of many more until I return to Dr. E on Friday, and hoping to be able to get back to jogging soon after that.
Putting together this picture story, and especially looking at the final two sets of before and after pictures, my spirits are lifted. I am elated!
One can look at tons of pictures of others who have gone through this—I sure did—but one cannot know the result she or he will get, or how happy she or he will be. So far, I am impressed with Dr. Eppley’s worked and very pleased with how I look.
Soon, I will be able to post pictures of myself, all healed. I promise, I’ll shave my face, and wash and brush my hair.