Many transgender men want to seek out a chiseled and well-defined face for gender affirmation. While many trans men can achieve “traditionally male” facial features through hormone therapy like testosterone, facial masculinization surgery (FMS) can be an excellent option for patients who want to make their face more masculine in appearance.
While choosing to undergo FMS is a personal decision, trans men who have this procedure done usually find that they improve their self-esteem and body image.
Men traditionally have longer, larger, and angular faces with a more prominent and protruding brow bone. They will also have a more prominent and higher chin. Other stereotypical masculine facial features are a prominent nose, thicker eyebrows, a square jaw, and Adam’s apple.
How Does Facial Masculinization Surgery Work?
Facial masculinization can be an excellent choice for gender-affirming surgery and is incredibly successful when combined with testosterone therapy and/or body contouring like top surgery.
Here are some individual treatments that are popular for facial masculinization:
Since female foreheads are usually shorter, lengthening the forehead can give a more masculine appearance. A surgeon will increase the distance between the eyebrows and hairline, which will create a more prominent forehead.
A surgical incision will be made within the hairline so that you can’t see any noticeable scarring. Then, the scalp will be lifted and pulled backward, or a prosthetic material will be used to create the forehead shape.
During a cheek augmentation procedure, your surgeon will put implants between the bone and the skin. As a result, it will form a more angular and masculine shape. In addition, since the surgical incision is made inside the mouth, scars will be undetectable.
A rhinoplasty, aka a nose job, is used to make a larger and/or broader nose. Since each person’s nose is different, the surgery is designed specifically for the individual and can involve various surgical techniques for the best result.
Surgical incisions from this type of surgery generally heal quickly with no scarring. When the surgery is completed, a cast will be used on the nose for a week or so, and the sutures will absorb.
Since male chins are generally longer and more square, chin recontouring serves to increase the chin’s size for a more angular look. This surgery can be quite effective for making the face look more masculine.
During the surgery, an incision will be made inside the mouth, and then the bone will be moved to reshape and recontour the chin. In some cases, implants may also be used.
Jaw contouring is a surgery that creates more masculine facial proportions. In addition, it will enhance the overall width of the face and create more definition between the lower face and neck.
The surgeon will put an implant into the jaw via an incision in the mouth to prevent visible scarring.
Thyroid Cartilage Enhancement
The “Adam’s Apple” is a noticeable notch in the thyroid cartilage and is a distinct difference between the appearance of a male and female face. With thyroid cartilage enhancement, your surgeon will make a small incision below the chin and place an implant in the throat.
The surgeon will then close neck muscles over the implant to protect the vocal cords. However, you can expect some vocal weakness during the first few weeks post-surgery; this is entirely normal.
Looking to learn more? Here are some informative articles on procedures and surgeries available.
What to Expect with Facial Masculinization Surgery
During your initial consultation, your surgeon will analyze your facial structure, talk to you about your goals, and answer your questions about the procedure. Many trans men opt to have all the facial masculinization procedures done during a single operation.
Depending on the surgery performed, the whole process can take about 6 to 12 hours. For the most part, patients who have FMS done will stay at the hospital overnight and then go home the next day.
You can expect some discomfort, and swelling, and bruising, which goes down after the first week. Full recovery takes about three to four weeks. Your doctor will prescribe the necessary pain medications for recovery.
Are There Any Risks With Surgery?
Overall, most trans men are satisfied with the results of their FMS; however, every procedure comes with risks. Rare complications can occur like adverse reactions to anesthesia, infection, and more.
Be sure to do your research and ask your doctor about the risks and benefits of FMS so that you can align your expectations appropriately.
FMS will give you a more masculine appearance; however, results may not always be as you envisioned it. Also, it is essential to note that the final results may not be noticeable until several months following surgery.
Facial masculinization surgery is an integral step in the transitioning process for many people. Since it is such an important procedure, you must work with a board-certified surgeon with many years of experience.