Whilst others went away for summer this year, I went on my own little journey. Well, more of a continuation of a previous journey. The sort that I’ll never forget because of what I experienced and took away with me. My souvenir? A new face. Sort of.
That’s right, I did it. After years of hating my face and a few months of waiting for my facial surgery, I finally had it done. I’m not gonna lie, it’s been a very emotional experience throughout, both good and bad. When I look back at my last post, it’s like I’m a different person. Well ok, I literally am physically but I am mentally too. I still have quite some way to go with my recovery but I’m really happy with the results, even just after a few days. Mr Chris Inglefield and his team were beyond phenomenal. Working so hard for the transgender community isn’t just a job for them, it’s a passion. One which shines through every interaction. For this post, I wanted to talk more about what I had done. Cosmetic surgery has always had a bit if a bad rep due to sensationalised documentaries or lack of awareness, and I’m hoping I can shed some light on it. Surgery is such a personal thing so no two stories are alike, which is why I can only base this post on what I experienced. If surgery is something you’re thinking about, there are plenty of experiences out there. I would definitely recommend checking out as many as possible to find the experience that would suit you best. If you need any advice, feel free to contact me.
Sooooo, how does one go about getting a new face that doesn’t look like John Travolta or (worse still) Nicholas Cage? First up, it’s not a new face as such – despite what people may think. You don’t pick a new face and alter your old one to match it, as this guy who wanted to look like David Beckham found out!! The idea is to base the results on your own face. Facial surgery is something that trans women will have more than trans males because of the way testosterone affects the body during puberty. Oestrogen can help with certain changes but not major ones such as bone structure. It’s the same as how testosterone has a one way affect in vocal chords, leaving trans women needing vocal therapy (even surgery in some cases), whilst trans males will automatically develop a lower, deeper voice over time. There’s a lot more to the voice side of things, but I’ll talk about that in a future post.
Earlier in April this year, I had a consultation with Mr Inglefield at The London Transgender Clinic. During this consultation we discussed what I wanted, what was possible and most importantly: what was needed. Personally I’ve always hated my jawline, my forehead and my cheeks. When you hate yourself with such passion, you just want to change it all. Often rushing into it or without thinking rationally. It’s far too easy to read up on various procedures and conclude that they’re the ones that will solve your problems. I thought I knew. Mr Inglefield wasn’t afraid to tell me that I didn’t need something. I loved that. Yeh, it’s crushing to be told that I didn’t need much doing to my cheeks or jawline. What would he know about how I felt, right? Wrong. He’s the expert. Let’s not forget my opinion of my face has been eroded by years of self hate, depression and dysphoria. Mr Inglefield saw me from another angle. One that isn’t saturated with so much negativity. After discussions, taking measurements and going through my facial structure, he recommended procedures that would be more effective and we went from there. I came away feeling relieved and positive, knowing there was a way forward. Next up came x-rays of my skull (which prompted this little mystery…which I’m still trying to figure out) and a referral letter from my gender specialist in order to support the procedure. Once all this was sorted, it was time to book a date. And wait.
⚠️ ⚠️ ⚠️ WARNING ⚠️ ⚠️ ⚠️
The rest of this post contains descriptions of facial and cosmetic surgery, including video footage and links to photos. I’ve done my best to be totally open about the procedures, so if you’re a bit squeamish, then please proceed with caution!! The photos are less graphic and can be at the bottom of this post.
I opted for a number of procedures: jaw contouring using botox, fat transfer from my stomach to my cheeks (the ones on my face, before you start wondering), brow contouring and a brow lift. I’ll briefly go through each one to give you an idea of what’s involved.
Jaw Contouring (Botox)
The jaw contouring is a simple, non-invasive procedure that uses botox over a course of 12 months to freeze the jaw muscles, causing them to reduce in size. That’s the simplest of my procedures. So far I’ve had one botox treatment. Given all the tattoos I have, I’m not entirely sure why I was nervous. In all honesty, it didn’t hurt at all.
Now, my face has always been flat. Like, “run into too many doors” kind of flat. I was always teased about it when growing up, which is why they bothered me so much. Before my consultation I was convinced I needed implants, however Mr Inglefield pointed out that I did actually have cheek bones…just nothing over them. So he took fat from my stomach area and injected them into both cheeks. Results can vary a lot from person to person because it all comes down to whether the relocated fat cells can find a blood supply in their new home. If they, do they stay. If they don’t, they die. I was told to expect about 60% to remain. If needed, I could always transfer more at a later date. You can see the fat transfer procedure here:
Brow Contouring & Brow Lift
The main procedures were to my brow area. Testosterone causes bossing to the brow area, which gives males a distinctive brow formation. The amount of bossing can vary from person to person. Fortunately for me, I was never really too gifted in the testosterone department to begin with 😅 I think it’s pretty obvious that there’s only one way to get to my brow bone. After all, you can’t change the bedsheet without peeling back the duvet first!!
So yeh, my scalp and forehead were carefully peeled away from my skull (there, I said it…sounds grim, but personally I find this stuff really fascinating, so whatevs) and once the brow bone and forehead area was exposed, Mr Inglefield shaved/contoured the area right up to the top of my eye sockets and towards the centre, creating the smooth foundation which forehead v2.0 would sit on, once lifted back towards the top of my head. Small self-dissolving claws were attached to my skull to help grip the forehead skin and hold it in place as the area healed. Considering I’m no spring chicken, this lift also got rid of a few wrinkles too. Bonus!!
Before reuniting my forehead with my scalp, a strip of my existing forehead was cut away and the scalp pulled forward to meet the new edge, before being stitched together. For those eager to see my skull and this procedure, here you go:
After the surgery, I was in recovery until I woke up and was checked over by the nursing team before being discharged. Even though I was staying at a local hotel, the team made sure I had everything I needed, including an out of hours number, should I have any problems. Luckily I didn’t. Surgery went as smooth as my new brow.
Click thumbnails to expand photos
I want to take this moment to thank Mr Inglefield and his team at The London Transgender Clinic from the bottom of my heart for all they’ve done so far. They’ve all been so caring, genuine and helpful throughout. I need to give a special mention to Laura, my dedicated nurse and point of contact. Following the consultation, she did an amazing job, often going above and beyond to answer any queries or offer help. She also filmed the footage for me and took photos. Thank you!!
Before anyone asks, no I’m not being paid to write this. It’s not an ad or any kind of promo (although if Mr Inglefield wants to name a corridor after me at the clinic, I wouldn’t say no. I mean, “the Echo wing” does have a nice ring to it, don’t you think?!) Nope, this is all based on my actual experience. One that I wanted to share and one that will (hopefully) help others who are stumped or skeptical about the world of FFS, or just unsure of their options and need some honesty.
Featured image: by Laura at The London Transgender Clinic