Considering surgery

Considering surgery

Surgery is a big deal. And there is a lot to think about. We walk you through the considerations that may impact your decision. 

What is breast construction?

Breast construction A gender-affirming upper surgery (also called breast augmentation) that creates, enlarges or shapes one’s breasts by placing implants underneath natural breast tissue or muscle. (also called breast augmentation) is a gender-affirming surgery that creates, enlarges or shapes one’s breasts. The goal is to have breasts and nipples with sensation, a larger cup size and minimal scarring.

Visit Understanding the Procedure for detailed information on the procedure, your options and the potential risks.

Making a decision about surgery

A wide range of people choose to have gender-affirming surgery, including people who are transgender, Two-Spirit A term used within some Indigenous communities to reflect complex Indigenous understandings of gender and sexuality and the long history of sexual and gender diversity in Indigenous cultures. Two-Spirit encompasses sexual, gender, cultural and spiritual identity. It may refer to cross-gender, multi-gender or non-binary gender roles, non-heterosexual identities, and a range of cultural identities, roles and practices embodied by Two-Spirit peoples. Some people also use "2-Spirit" or "2S." (Source: Battered Women’s Support Services) or non-binary Umbrella term referring to people whose gender does not fall within the binary gender system of woman/girl or man/boy. Some individuals identify as non-binary while others may use terms such as gender non-conforming, genderqueer, or agender. Non-binary people may or may not conform to societal expectations for their gender expression and gender role, and they may or may not seek gender-affirming medical or surgical care. . While having surgery does not make anyone more or less trans, it can help some people feel more comfortable in their body.

Questions to ask yourself

As you consider whether surgery is right for you, it may be helpful to start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Are you okay with having visible scars?
  • Is having sensation important to you?
  • How many operations are you prepared to have?
  • What level of risk are you willing to accept?
  • Do you have any health issues that may limit your options?
  • Breast implants have an average lifespan of 10–15 years. Are you willing to have another surgery to replace them later in life?
  • Can you afford the additional costs associate with surgery (travel, after-care costs, time off work, etc.)?

Setting realistic expectations

Like with any other surgical intervention, there are risks associated with breast construction. Many people are very happy with the outcomes of their surgery, but some also experience complications or results that don’t meet their expectations. Being prepared for the limitations of what surgery can achieve and the possibility of disappointment are part of ensuring you have realistic expectations. 

Limitation of breast construction

  • You may notice changes in your skin, such as rippling A condition where the edges, folds and wrinkles of breast implants are noticeable through the skin, typically around the cleavage area and the sides of the implant. , stretch marks or scars. 
  • Your breasts, nipples or areolas may be asymmetrical in size, shape or position. 
  • Breasts may be spaced in a way that does not create a lot of cleavage. 
  • The size or appearance of the areolas may not meet expectations.
  • You may experience changes in sensation, including areas of complete numbness. 

We recommend familiarizing yourself with the complications associated with breast construction.

When to have surgery

Timing is also an important consideration for surgery. You may be heading off to school, starting a new job or have other important life events. Commitments like these make it difficult to accommodate the down time needed to recover from surgery. Picking the right time for surgery is as important to your recovery as any other pre or postop activity your primary care provider A person’s main health care provider in non-emergency situations such as check-ups and referrals. Family doctors, general practitioners (GPs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) are all primary care providers. recommends.

This guide is meant to help you decide

There are many emotional, spiritual, physical, social and financial considerations that may impact your decision to have surgery. This guide was prepared to help you understand the costs, the procedure, the risks and the recovery associated with breast construction.

Surgical costs — who pays for these?

Public funding

Gender-affirming breast construction surgery is covered by MSP The Medical Services Plan (MSP) is a B.C. government health plan that pays for physician services and referred services that are considered medically necessary, such as specialists (surgeon, psychiatrist, etc.), diagnostic x-rays, or laboratory services, for all BC residents. Some residents qualify for premium assistance for physiotherapy, chiropractic, naturopathy, massage therapy and acupuncture. .

Surgeons will recommend surgery for people who have breasts that have not developed in proportion to their body following an appropriate trial of hormone therapy (unless hormones are not clinically indicated). 

As everyone's body and care needs are different, you will need to discuss with your care providers what this means for you.

Private pay option

Some people choose to have their breast construction done outside B.C.’s public system. The reasons that someone may choose private-pay surgery include:

  • Not having healthcare coverage
  • Wanting to undergo surgery outside of B.C.
  • Reduced wait times

If you choose this option, you will be required to pay for all of the costs, including the surgery, which typically costs between $7,000 and $10,000. In some cases, your employer’s extended health benefits may provide some coverage. This varies significantly, so be sure to confirm with your health insurance provider.

Other surgery-related costs

While MSP pays for most of the costs associated with your breast construction, there are other costs you should consider, including:

  • Time off from work — You will need time off for both your surgery and recovery period. Recovery times are unique to each person, but it usually takes 2–3 weeks for most people to return to work. If your work is physically demanding, you may need more time.
  • Medical supplies & other post-surgery items — These include wound care supplies, supportive garments and medications. You can find a full list of recommended post-surgery items here.
  • Travel and accommodation — If you don’t live near a surgical centre, you will need to cover the costs of travel. You may want to arrive a day ahead of your surgery and may need to stay for several days after. Ensure that you budget for accommodations, meals and parking.
  • Costs for your support person — If someone is coming with you to help with your care before and after surgery, you may need to account for their travel and accommodation costs as well.

Financial support available

There may be some financial help available depending on your employer and your income bracket.

  • Paid leave — Speak with your employer or Human Resources department about any short-term disability, sick leave or vacation time you can use during your time off.  
  • Extended benefits — If you have extended benefits, check your program to see what is covered.
  • Disability assistance — If you are on provincial disability assistance, you can contact the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction to discuss funding for travel, support garments and other medically necessary Treatments, procedures or services that health care professionals determine are essential for diagnosing or treating a medical condition based on established medical guidelines and individual patient needs. supplies. Your primary care provider can write you a letter of support to access these funds.
  • EI Sickness Benefits — EI Sickness Benefits can be an option for individuals who are working and meet the eligibility criteria.
  • First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) Benefits Program — Individuals who are Indigenous, have status and live in B.C. are able to access FNHA benefits. These benefits can provide coverage for gender-affirming resources and postoperative supplies, like compression vests.
  • Fundraising — Consider organizing online or in-person fundraisers.

There are also several programs that can help you cover transportation costs, including:

  • Hope Air — A Canadian charity that arranges free flights for low-income Canadians who must fly to get health care.
  • Travel Assistance Program (TAP) — If travel costs are a barrier, you may qualify for this program. You can access the program by asking your primary care provider to fill out a Travel Assistance Program (TAP BC) form and follow the process from there.
  • First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) Medical Transportation Benefit — FNHA benefits can also cover the costs of travel, accommodation and meals when you need to travel for medically necessary care (including breast construction and revision A follow-up procedure or adjustment to a previous surgical operation or treatment to correct or improve its outcome. surgeries).
Need support?

Contact our team of experienced health navigators for information about gender-affirming care in B.C.