Life after surgery

After your surgery and recovery, you might have some questions about surgery outcomes, your changed anatomy and your ongoing health care. Or you may simply want to connect with others who have experienced something similar.

Ongoing support

Many people feel the desire to connect with others after their surgery. If you’re looking for ways to meet others with similar experiences, we recommend visiting our Peer Support Directory. There are groups located throughout the province and groups that meet online. 

Surgical revisions

In some cases, people who have had chest construction A gender-affirming, upper surgery that removes breast tissue and sculpts remaining tissue into a shape that is typically considered to be more masculine. surgery find that they experience complications or they are unsatisfied with the results of the surgery. If this happens to you, you might need to speak with your surgeon about the possibility of a surgical revision A follow-up procedure or adjustment to a previous surgical operation or treatment to correct or improve its outcome. . This is a subsequent surgery to address the complication you’ve identified.

Common reasons for a surgical revision include:

  • To improve contour (with liposuction A surgical technique for removing fat from under the skin by suction. )
  • To address scarring
  • To correct skin excess, bulges or puckering
  • To adjust the nipple-areola complex Area of the chest or breast that includes the nipple and the surrounding darker-colored area (the areola). position or size

If your surgeon determines a revision is 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. , they can apply for further 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. funding on your behalf.

Note about funding

MSP typically only funds revisions that are related to pain or function, not for reasons related to appearance. If the revision you are seeking is not covered this may be something you can get privately or through other coverage (such as extended health benefits). 

Requesting a surgical revision

If you feel you need a surgical revision, you can:

  • Follow up directly with your original surgeon; or 
  • Be referred to the Trans Care BC Central Waitlist. To do this, ask 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. to fax a new Upper Surgery Referral Form to Trans Care BC.

You won’t need to go through the readiness assessment An evaluation conducted by a health care professional to determine if a patient is ready to begin hormone therapy or have gender-affirming surgery. process again to get a new surgical recommendation unless the surgeon requests one.

Medical tattooing

If there are aspects of your chest that you’re not satisfied with, medical tattoos may be an option for you.

There are tattoo artists who specialize in areola restoration. They tattoo the chest (after it has healed) to add more detail to the nipple. This can include making the nipple appear more pronounced or filling in the shape of the areola so it appears more symmetrical. If you choose to forego nipple grafts, you can choose to have nipples tattooed onto your chest once it has healed.

In addition, some tattoo artists specialize in skin and scar camouflage. Once your scars have fully healed, the tattoo artist may be able to make them appear less noticeable by blending them into the surrounding skin.

Medical tattooing is self-funded. 

Cancer screening

BC Cancer recommends screening Process of checking for signs of a health issue or medical condition before symptoms appear. for cancer based on the anatomy that is present —this will depend on whether you had a full mastectomy A surgical procedure to remove one or both breasts. or a reduction. It’s important to speak with your primary care provider to learn whether or not you should have chest cancer screening and how often. 

If your primary care provider isn’t sure how to answer your questions, advise them to call the RACE line. This hotline provides quick assistance from clinicians experienced in trans health.  

BC Cancer has a resource for care providers here: BC Cancer Screening Guidelines.

Download the surgery workbook

This workbook contains worksheets, exercises and checklists related to chest construction

Need support?

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