My new face: all of me!

Dr. Barry Eppley had finished removing the stitches and staples from my lips and scalp. We were chatting about how I now looked, and whether I might be content with where I am or possibly want him to do more.

We talked about each aspect of my face. As we were dissecting my features, he asked if I knew the word, “gestalt.” Before explaining that, consider this.

Picture your favorite hamburger, with all the fixin’s you like. Mmm, all the flavors together taste so good.

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What if you were to eat that same burger, one part at a time. First, the patty. Then, the bun. Now, the ketchup, then the mustard. Chomp on the pickles, and finish up with the onions.

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How do you like that hamburger, now? It’s the same burger, and yet it is not.

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Here is what “gestalt” means: “A configuration, pattern, or organized field having specific properties that cannot be derived from the summation of its component parts; a unified whole.”

To be enjoyed, a hamburger must be a unified whole. How much more the human face, and the entire human body?

As I used three posts to roll out my face surgery, showing you my brow, then my lips, and finally my neck—especially placing together before and after shots—was okay, but not nearly as satisfying as showing my entire face. Even more, in my transitioning, my face could not alone be addressed, but also my chest and bottom, along with my hormones—even my legal name. I needed to be a unified whole.

Gestalt, baby!  Here we go!  I’ve arrived, the completed Gina Joy Eilers!

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We got home from church on December 17 and I put Julie to work with the camera.

Before I had my face surgery, I told folks that I will still look like me, and I will look differently. I do believe that idea has worked perfectly.

So, here I am. And, not only my face, because, as I said, my entire person was part of this transition.

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Because I get asked all the time, yes, I wear heels.  These are three inches.  I love wearing them!

A favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”  The Lord strengthens me spiritually, and He gives me earthly gifts to do the same. My greatest earthly gift is Julie.  With Julie, I have been able to do all that I have needed to get healthy!

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Where I love to be—next to Julie.

 

Referring to the two photos, below, I still love the Detroit Tigers and hot dogs with mustard and onions, and shows like The Simpsons.  I am dazzled that I have done everything a person can do in transitioning, and in every important way—my Christian faith, everyone and everything I love and value, my personality and sense of humor, and how I live my daily life—did not change a bit.

And even got better, deeper, and enriched, including my faith in Jesus Christ growing much stronger.

Finally, after a nearly lifelong struggle, and closing in on four years since I became suicidal because I was in such mental and emotional anguish, I am healthy.  Indeed, I find myself the most healthy in mind, body, and soul as I have ever been.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for all of your goodness to me, both now and forever!  Thank you, Julie, for living your marriage vow to me as thoroughly as a person can!

 

 

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My new face: neck

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Left: now you see my jowls.  Right: now you don’t!

I continue the move down my face, from my brow to my lips, now arriving at my neck.

That I had this work on my neck is not specific to facial feminization. I had a standard face lift, something which any person—I’m trying to refrain from saying, “Something for any older woman or man, who has been afflicted with the nasty affects of aging!”—might desire so as to enjoy a nicer, more youthful look.

By the time I hit my late fifties, my neck had sagged quite badly and I had formed some nasty jowls. I especially noticed my neck when I shaved, the flappy, floppy skin right below my chin flipping and flupping as I ran my razor over it. The other giveaway was a side view of my face, which had me greeting myself, “Hello, turkey!”

Thus, there was no question that a face lift would be part of the work I would have Dr. Barry Eppley perform on me. That, however, created a situation: I had thought I would have him sculpt my jaw as part of the feminizing of my face. but I couldn’t have both during the same surgery.

Why my jaw? As with brows/foreheads, male jaws jut more than females’. As Dr. Eppley smoothed out my brow line, I wanted him to do the same with my jaw. He informed me that he could not work on the jaw and do the face lift in the same operation; it simply was too much for one area, in one operation.

I definitely wanted the face lift, so the jaw was out. Now that I am post-op, I am finding my jaw to be in the same neighborhood as my nose, that is, not terribly male-looking.  And, with my jowls gone, my jaw—which had become more square because of the jowls—was nicely round (see the photo at the top).  When Dr. Eppley removed my stitches and staples, I told him that, so far, I am pleased with how I look and don’t anticipate having him shape my jaw.

If you have pondered having a face lift, consider me to be encouraging you. I am very pleased with the result. Yes, the early days of recovery are significant, but, thankfully, they go by fast.

My neck grew very black and blue, and sensitive. I have a lot of stitches in front of both ears and up each lobe to the antitragus—you know, the hard thingy that sticks up near the ear opening.  See the chart.

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The sides of my face became totally numb and, even at three weeks post-op, are only now regaining feeling.

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This picture was taken the day after surgery.  After scabs formed, the stitch lines became more obvious.

My jaws were stiff for about two weeks. This, along with my very sore lips, impeded eating the first few days. If my lips had not hurt, my jaws, while stiff, would not have kept me from eating just about anything but the toughest foods. Now, at three weeks, my jaws are fine.

For you guys, shaving was very unpleasant until I got to the three week mark post-op. I am not done with electrolysis, and very few whiskers have been removed from my neck. It was a touchy chore to run my razor on my neck, and in front of my ears was very challenging because I was totally numb.

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This was five days post-op.  The camera did not capture how bad this was.  Thankfully, as with all of it, it cleared up quickly.

But, again, and with every aspect of these negatives of recovery, they don’t last and, truly, the time passes quickly enough. My philosophy is not to let a few weeks of discomfort overrule many years of enjoying the results.

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No more sagging neck!
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This is the best closeup I have to show both my neck and jowls.  I am delighted to see no more jowls!

That’s it—three posts to cover my face: brow, lips, and neck.  Now, to reveal the entire image.  In preparation for that, learn this word: gestalt.  As you do, ponder your favorite hamburger, and what it would be like to eat it one ingredient at a time.

On Friday, December 15, I get my hair done.  So I will see you again on Monday, the 18th, and you will see the entire from-the-neck-up new me.

My new face: lips

Every bit as clear as the contrast between the brows of males and females is the difference in our lips. In most cases, especially with Caucasians, females are lavished with larger lips and males sport smaller ones. (If this is not true for you, always remember that, as with a car’s miles-per-gallon, your genetics may vary.)

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That’s me, before surgery and right after the stitches were removed.

As Dr. Eppley put it when assessing my face, “Your lips are pencil thin.” He was right, and so my lips were in play as an important aspect of my facial feminization.

While there are several ways to enhance one’s lips, Dr. Eppley quickly dismissed fillers and injections for me as they would leave me not with top-to-bottom larger lips, but with them puffed up and perhaps unnatural looking.

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Leading into the method he had in mind, Dr. Eppley said, “Vermilion is stretchy.” While this did not sound particularly surprising, who thinks about how stretchy are the lips? Even more, at what was he getting? He was interested in removing a small amount of skin from around the vermilion border, then reattaching my lips, making good use of their stretchiness and achieving the desired goal: I would have larger, feminine-looking lips.

Two things immediately presented themselves to me. First, how would we decide how far to go? Second—and for a short time of greater concern—how much would this hurt? I could easily imagine that the early days of recovery would be no-fun nasty.

I was correct.

Before I get to that, how does one decide how much increase would work well? I drew on my face. I began with a red lip pencil. After a couple of attempts, I had drawn on a respectable outline. I then filled in with lipstick.

My lips looked pretty good. I measured them. I had added about 1/8″ all around. I showed Julie. We were in agreement that this is what I would tell Dr. Eppley, and see what his idea would be.

He agreed, though he translated it to three millimeters, which is a hair under my measurement.

You can bet your tube of Chapstick that I asked how painful this would be, and whether it would affect my eating as I recovered. I don’t fault Dr. Eppley for giving me a pretty brief and simple answer, as I am now a veteran of four significant surgeries and I have found all of my surgeons not to have gone into depth as to the troubles of recovery.

Besides, how would they do that? Patient: “Doctor, how bad will I hurt?” Doctor: “Let me put it this way: I hope I never have done to me what I’m going to do to you.” Yikes.

I always go into surgery the way that I try exotic foods for the first time. With food, I figure that folks of other cultures wouldn’t eat it if it tasted terrible. (The lone exception so far? Vegemite. You Australians must have some wacky taste buds.) So I reckon with surgery; they wouldn’t do the surgery—especially elective surgery, as my three 2017 ones have been—if it had in store a near-impossible-to-endure recovery period.

Where my brow made the early days of recovery problematic because of the new hole in my head (see yesterday’s post), the first week after surgery on my lips made eating and drinking nightmarish chores.

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This photo is not staged. For five days, I really did sip my morning coffee through a straw, allowing each cup to cool significantly before having at it.

My lips were numb. The stitch line hurt. On Black Friday, two days after surgery, with Julie back at work, in the mid-morning I was hungry and could not think of anything to eat that I would be able to eat. I couldn’t feel a fork on my lips, and moving them was painful.

An idea struck. I headed to the kitchen. I took out the milk, eggs, and sugar. I have now made homemade eggnog enough to recall the portions of each ingredient. I didn’t have heavy cream, so this would not be as tasty as usual, but it would do the job that I needed. It would be easy to drink through a straw, taste yummy, and provide me with the calories I needed.

It worked. I am now preparing a marketing plan for the Post-op Eggnog Diet. (Don’t be so quick to dismiss my genius!)

The day after surgery, Dr. Eppley revealed a bit of news which I sure did not want to hear. He had not used dissolving stitches in my lips. The stitches would have to come out. One day, during one of the two times a day I applied antibiotic cream to them, I counted the stitches. Their were more than forty. Ugh.

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Two days post-op.  Despite keeping the stitches moist with antibiotic cream, for a few days they were very crusty and uncomfortable.

 

I had somehow made it to age sixty without ever having experienced stitch removal. As I asked folks, everyone said, “It feels like a tug, but it doesn’t really hurt.” Then, some added, “But I don’t know about around your lips.”

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I’m never in so much pain that I cannot take a selfie.

They sure didn’t know about around the lips. Many of them qualified as the tug, very similar to the zap of the more-than-one-hundred-hours of electrolysis I’ve had done on my facial hair. The rest? They hurt. A lot. A few left me out of breath and Dr. Eppley feeling badly for causing me so much pain.

I survived.

Before completing the first week post-op, I could again feel a fork on my lips and drink from a cup. As I write this nearing the three week mark post-op, the stitch line feels tight. While I have full movement, when I laugh or smile widely the tightness is very evident. Dr. Eppley said it helps the healing to stretch my lips, so have at the laughing and smiling.

There is a red line where my lips were reattached. It makes my lips look a bit odd for now. It will take awhile to fade away.

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Dr. Eppley has blogged about my lip procedure.  Sorry, to you who like surgery pictures; unlike with my brow there are no during-surgery photos this time.

http://exploreplasticsurgery.com/case-study-transgender-vermilion-advancements-lips/

Thankfully, I can envision the finished product. Especially when I smile, I find my lips to be what I had wanted. However, only looking at my lips does not provide context. For that—to see how my brow and lips look together—I stick my neck out asking for one more day of your patience. Before I reveal my entire face, I have a face lift to display and discuss.

My new face: brow

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Until 2013, I was not aware of the significant differences in the structures of male and female faces. Thus, since my surgery, I should not be surprised how many times I have heard, “I never noticed this!”

Because of the difference, it is not as simple as a genetic male, who is transitioning to female, to grow hair, and to trim eyebrows and apply makeup, so as to completely achieve a female appearance. This is why, on November 22, I underwent facial feminization surgery, which is commonly known as FFS.

In this post, I unfurrow my brow. In the coming days I will pucker my lips, then stick out my neck, and then finally reveal my entire face.

Thanks to Dr. Eppley for taking all of the appropriate photographs. In the process, I learned that he is an active blogger. If you would like to read the expert’s rendition of his surgery on my brow, click the following link. Be prepared for several pictures of my actual surgery, with my forehead exposed. To me, they are pretty gruesome photos, so be forewarned if that kind of thing creeps you out.

http://exploreplasticsurgery.com/case-study-microplate-fixation-flap-setback-brow-bone-reduction/

I present my lay-person’s version of what Dr. Eppley professionally wrote. As he refers to it, my male brow provided a Neanderthal Man look. Though male brows of today are not quite so jutting as the Neanderthals, that is a handy reference as everyone immediately has an image to conjure.

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Ahhhh, now I get why my aunt always referred to her cousin Harry as a Neanderthal!

I had viewed loads of photos in anticipation of my surgery. I am pleased to report that these photos show exactly what I was hoping would be achieved.

Female brows are smooth, and don’t jut out.  See the difference in the photo at the opening of this post, the side view providing the most vivid angle to see the difference.

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Female eyebrows are set higher on the face. If you had not known these two things—the jut versus smooth, and the lower-set versus higher-set—pay attention. Look—but don’t stare!—at men and women. Now that you know the difference, you will see the difference. This quickly explains why we have such things as masculine and feminine appearances.  We’re simply built differently.

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These pictures fascinate me.  I see the same person, yet I see a dramatic difference.  With age, my brows were sagging.  Now lifted, my eyes look more alive.  And a bit more youthful?  Perhaps.

Dr. Eppley used a reciprocating saw to reduce my brow bone. He then performed a brow lift. Combine this with a scalp advancement—he was hoping to move my scalp forward about a centimeter, close to 4/10″—the other gain for me was both a less-prominent forehead and the removal of the wrinkles of aging.

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A surgical reciprocating saw.

Shaving the bone created a hole in my head.  (As if I need another hole in my head.) When he visited Julie and me the day after surgery, he warned me not to blow my nose for the next couple of weeks as the surgery healed, and if I were to sneeze to place the palm of one hand firmly over my forehead. If I were not to do that, I would feel a rush of air, and it would be very uncomfortable.

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Worry not, I sneezed. And I blew my nose a few times, forgetting to palm my forehead. I learned the hard way: I was officially an airhead.

What is the feeling of air rushing into one’s forehead? It didn’t so much hurt as it was just plain weird. The air seemed to rattle about for several seconds, like a pinball bouncing around the machine.

Two weeks after surgery, I was finally able to trust blowing my nose, palming my forehead, so that I didn’t experience the big rush. It got to where I felt about a dime-sized spot, between and just above my eyebrows, giving just a bit of a harmless puff with each blow.

As I am nearing the three week mark post-op, I am still palming my head, but I am no longer feeling even the dime-sized spot. Soon, I will have confidence to go all out, trusting that what Dr. Eppley had pulled back in order to shave my bone has now re-adhered itself.

My brow now completed, next time I will give you some lip.

I also got breast implants

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Throughout my transition and, specifically, as I was to undergo surgery on November 22, I had not been public about one thing. It seemed that it might sound like I was doing something frivolous, getting breast implants, when I had my facial feminization surgery (FFS), so I simply ignored it.

I should not have ignored it. It was not frivolous.

Now that I am nearing two weeks since my surgery, I have found that this is important to discuss. Even more, I have held nothing back regarding my transition, and that has been important to me. I am a wear-your-heart-on-your-sleeve kind of person, one who strives to be open, always honest, and use situations—including the most delicate—to educate.

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The decision to have my breasts enhanced was one that I debated with myself and which Julie and I discussed for a long time. I never wanted to undergo anything which was unnecessary. I didn’t like the idea of adding the implants to my body.  I struggled with what size they should be, not wanting them too large, but achieving a proper size. I researched the physical concerns regarding them, just as I had researched the side effects of going on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and the dangers of sex reassignment surgery.

I contemplated myself, my appearance, and how much breast growth I had achieved the past few years on HRT. When one begins HRT so late in life, its impact is way less than when a person in the teens or twenties begins.

For my age, I experienced nice breast growth. Even as I was pleased about that, a problem remained. Because I am a large person, my new breasts did not match up with my frame.

As I pondered implants and how I wanted to look when I considered myself fully transitioned, here is the thing to which I always returned, the equivalent of the ultimate reason I had my face feminized: Neither thing was as much for me as for everyone who sees me, especially out in public with those who don’t know me.

I undertook face surgery for the purpose of better being recognized as a female. The same goes for having vocal cord surgery, so that I might be able to speak with a higher pitch. I opted for breast implants for the same reason. With all three—face, voice, breasts—my goal was to better function in the world as the person whom I want the world to see.

I am also grateful for all of the procedures for my own sake. The person I am seeing in the mirror—the person whom I now embody—reflects the person my mind has been visualizing all these years.

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It has been a remarkable adjustment, having larger breasts. The first days after surgery, I was terribly tentative with them, with their almost feeling that they were not under, but on top of my chest, and that if I moved wrong or too quickly they might fall off.

As I grew used to them, another adjustment awaited: running. Two years ago, I added the wearing of a sports bra when jogging. That was an easy fix and, because of my breast size, there was nothing unusual-looking about this person, who certainly appeared to be a guy out running the neighborhoods of northeast Indy.

On Friday, December 1, when I saw Dr. Eppley nine days after surgery and he removed stitches and clips from my lips and head, he gave me the okay to resume normal activity, with the regular cautions to take care. I quickly replied, “Wonderful! I’m going jogging this afternoon!”

Besides some remaining tenderness, I was mindful of how much I might jiggle. I wore the surgical bra, with which I was fitted in the hospital, and it’s plenty tight, so I hoped for no more bobbing than previously.

As I dressed, pulling my t-shirt over my head, I anticipated my new look. No doubt about it, I will no longer be stealthy in the breast department. Now, whom will folks see as I jog by, as I offer my smiling hellos and friendly small talk to those I pass on the street? A guy? A gal? A . . . ?

Thankfully, I am not a self-conscious person. I am able to tell myself, “They will see whom they will see. For the sake of everyone, no matter where I am, or how I am dressed, I will smile, I will be friendly, I will only give them a reason to be pleased they encountered me.”

I took off running.

My first steps were tentative. I noticed everything, from the twinge in what has been a sensitive spot in my right breast, to a teeny bit more jiggle, to the different feel of this bra from my sports bras.

Was I pushing it? Was it too soon to begin? If needed, would I have the sense to stop and walk?

Within two minutes, before I reached the first block’s corner, I was settling in. Then, when the voice on my running app called out the first five minutes, I rejoiced. I was up to my regular pace and running well. A wide smile burst from my face. I spoke a joy-filled prayer of thanks to the Lord.

I had been running six to seven miles this autumn, but I had not run for thirteen days. While I had only missed one week before resuming walking, even the five miles, which I had once again achieved on Thursday, is not as tiring or taxing. Though I felt good, I kept this first run to 3.7 miles.

The next day, Saturday, I bumped it up to 4.2. I felt good, but after I was done the muscles in my more sensitive right breast were calling out to me. I took some ibuprofen. As much as I want to run in the October-like weather we are having, I prescribed Sunday off.

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Since I had FFS and the breast enhancement, I am happy to report that I have only been pleased. Even during the very difficult first week after surgery, when everything hurt, all but my nose was numb, eating was a miserable event, my activity was very limited for the sake of my healing breasts, and I looked just awful, I never asked, “What did you do to yourself, you dope?”

Thankfully, I have only had positive thoughts. I have been able to visualize the finished product and be excited about it. I have been on a high, having finally completed my surgeries and, for all intents and purposes, my transition.

Whew!  Yay!

I find nothing I have done to be frivolous. Quite the opposite, each procedure, every step of transitioning, has been a part of the whole of healing.

Finally, nearly five years after crashing under crushing gender dysphoria, I am feeling like a healthy person. I have pep in my step, a smile on my face, and a song in my heart.

Praise the Lord Jesus for all of His goodness to me!

My face surgery, with lots of pictures

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Facial feminization surgery

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

Hairline

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.

Browline

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.

Cheeks

Small disks will be placed into the cheeks to provide, well, more cheek. (As if I’m not cheeky enough, right?)

Nose

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.

Lips

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.

Neck

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.

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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.

ffs-before-and-afterI 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.

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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!