An important factor to consider ensuring the success of your Sex Reassignment Surgery is the surgeon you choose. Some surgeons have Internet websites and some don't. The Gender Centre has made contact with all Surgeons who have Websites, and has obtained permission to pass on their webpage information from some. The Gender Centre can provide this webpage information in print form for those without internet access and unable to access the Gender Centre, though the Gender Centre doesn't recommend any Surgeon over another, and cannot provide prospective patients with anything other than available resources to enable you to make an informed decision. Should you not have Internet access, you are more than welcome to contact the Gender Centre, to arrange an appointment to access this information from the Internet.
When Choosing a Surgeon
When choosing a surgeon there are several things worth considering. Once you've received the list of Surgeons, you can start checking their credentials. While good credentials can't guarantee you a successful outcome, they can significantly increase the odds. You can obtain the following information from hospitals and professional societies, and the surgeon's office.
More important than where your surgeon went to school is the type of training he or she received. Who the Surgeon trained under, the experience of that person, what procedures the surgeon specializes in, and how long has he or she been practicing. While a Surgeon may choose to concentrate on a limited number of procedures, this comprehensive background gives a solid foundation to his or her skills.
Although there's no magic number (of years or procedures) that defines "experience," you should feel comfortable that the surgeon you choose is well versed and up-to-date in the procedure you're considering. You can ask the surgeons on your list if they perform the procedure frequently or only occasionally, and when they last performed that procedure. You can also ask how many Sex Reassignment Surgery procedures they've performed, and state that you mean actual Sex Reassignment Surgery and not associated facial surgery or other feminizing cosmetic surgery.
Most Surgeons operate under the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Associations Standards of Care, and will need documentation from you to ensure that you meet their criteria for Sex Reassignment Surgery. Often you'll need two letters of recommendation from Psychiatrists and have lived in a female role (full-time) for a period of two years. Other requirements, blood tests etc. vary slightly from Surgeon to Surgeon, ask your preferred Surgeon what documents he or she requires from you.
Ask your Surgeon which technique he or she prefers to use and why. Ask them why they use a certain technique as opposed to other techniques, and ask them to explain the benefits and disadvantages of using the technique they prefer. (For further information regarding different techniques, see the Technique fact Sheet included in this kit). Ask your Surgeon whether they use skin grafts, how often and under what specific circumstances skin grafts may be required, where they are taken from, and whether scrotal skin can be used. Ask whether they insist on patients undergoing genital electrolysis before surgery, and ask them why.
Ask your surgeon just how functional your results will be following surgery. By this, we mean, the depth of the vagina, the sensitivity of the clitoris, the ability to reach orgasm and the ability to urinate cleanly and without any difficulty.
The appearance of your result is obviously an important part of any cosmetic procedure. Ask your surgeon to show you photographic examples of their work, the more the better. If your chosen Surgeon is overseas, interstate or not able to be reached easily for a consultation, ask him or her to send you photographs or direct you to Internet websites where they appear.
The cost of Sex Reassignment Surgery varies between Surgeons, and is usually an important factor in choosing a Surgeon. Ask your Surgeon how much he or she charges, and what their charges include. Some include hospital, surgery fee, anesthetist, airport pick up and return (for overseas and interstate patients), a Surgery Care Kit including aftercare items, and post surgery consultations. Make sure you know what you're paying for! If traveling overseas, check likely exchange rates, airline ticket prices, and possible accommodation and living expenses. Some Surgeons provide accommodation, most don't.
Ask your Surgeon how long your hospital stay will be, and how long you should remain close to his or her practice for follow-up consultations. Ask what aftercare product you'll need to buy, and which ones will be provided. Ask your Surgeon for his or her recommended post-operative dilation and aftercare you'll be expected to uphold once you've returned home. Ask your Surgeon how long you'll be required to rest before you return to work or other activities. Ask your Surgeon how long he or she recommends before having intercourse.
Ask your preferred Surgeon for names of previous patients you can contact. Ask them the same questions you asked the Surgeon. If you know someone who has seen your chosen Surgeon, ask them the same questions you've asked your Surgeon, compare their responses to those given by your Surgeon. Try and make contact with as many previous patients as possible, either in person or by email.
Other Relevant Information
If traveling overseas for surgery, ask your Surgeon to write a letter to your airline requesting that a wheelchair be made available for you. You may not feel you need this, though you will be first on the plane and last off, avoiding unnecessary crowds. At your destination you'll be assisted in collecting your luggage and through customs. This is extremely helpful.
If traveling overseas, you'll be able to gain a female passport before you depart. This passport is valid for one year only.
Expect to be recovering and unable to work for a period of about four weeks following surgery. Plan for this financially when considering your surgery costs.
It is your responsibility to uphold diligent dilation and other related aftercare procedures to ensure a quick and safe recovery.
The Gender Centre is committed to developing and providing services and activities, which enhance the ability of people with gender issues to make informed choices. We offer a wide range of services to people with gender issues, their partners, family members and friends in New South Wales. We are an accommodation service and also act as an education, support, training and referral resource centre to other organisations and service providers. The Gender Centre is committed to educating the public and service providers about the needs of people with gender issues. We specifically aim to provide a high quality service, which acknowledges human rights and ensures respect and confidentiality.