Day of surgery

Having a clear idea of what to expect can help you feel more comfortable on the day of your surgery. 

What to expect

We have provided a general description of the process at the Gender Surgery Program B.C. This information is to help you start imagining what the hospital experience could be like — you will be given more detailed and up-to-date information once you meet the GSPBC surgical team and receive your Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) workbook.

Before you arrive

The GSPBC nurse and social worker will provide you with instructions on any preparations you need to do before your surgery. The day before surgery, a nurse from the hospital’s Admitting Department will call to confirm the time of your surgery and the time you need to arrive at the hospital.

Follow the instructions from your surgeon for when to stop eating and drinking the night before surgery.

Pack high quality masks that you can wear throughout your stay to reduce the risk of infection. Coughing after surgery can cause complications and infections can slow down postoperative healing. You can also request that your health care providers wear a mask while they are caring for you.

Checking in

When you check in at the hospital, you’ll get a wristband with the name and gender that is listed on your BC Services Card A BC Services Card is government-issued ID. You can use it as photo ID to verify your identity or age. If you're enrolled in MSP, it provides access to health services. It can be combined with your driver's license. .

Note: The team at GSPBC will work with other hospital departments to ensure that your correct name and pronoun are used during your hospital stay. Hospital admission staff will write your preferred name on your wristband ID.

Once you’re checked in

You’ll be taken to either a room or a curtained area with a hospital bed where a nurse will share next steps with you. They’ll give you a hospital gown to change into, a basket to hold your belongings and possibly some medication. You will be given some privacy to wash and change into a hospital gown. The surgeon may visit you, do some assessments on the blood vessels in your arms and legs and make some drawings on your body to guide the procedure.

The nurse may start an IV and check your blood pressure and assist you into the hospital bed.

The anesthesiologist may visit you to talk about the anesthetic and answer questions.

Going to the operating room

When it’s time for your surgery to begin, the nurses will help you onto the surgical table, put on a blood pressure cuff and attach some monitors. The operating room team will ask you to confirm the name of the procedure you are receiving and the name on your BC Services Card (if different). The anesthesiologist will talk you through the process of going under anesthesia.

Once the anesthesia has put you to sleep, the surgeon will begin the procedure.  Your friends and family can wait for you in the waiting room.

Immediately after the surgery

Once the surgery is finished, you’ll be taken to a recovery area, where nurses will monitor you closely until the anesthesia wears off.

You will be taken back to your hospital room and the nurses will help you get settled. You may need help to get out of bed and walk around or go to the washroom. Make sure to ask the nurses for help. 

Nurses will continue to monitor you, help you with pain management and talk to you about your bandages and drains Thin tubes placed in the body during surgery to remove excess fluid or blood. . Once you are settled, your friends and family can visit you.

After your surgery, you will stay in the hospital for 6–7 days if you have had phalloplasty A gender-affirming lower surgery to create a penis and scrotal sac (phase 1) followed by testicular implants and implants to obtain rigidity/erection (phases 2 and 3). and 3–5 days if you have had erectile tissue release This procedure creates a penis by cutting the ligaments around the erectile tissue (clitoris), so the shaft falls away from the body, giving it a more pronounced appearance. or metoidioplasty A gender-affirming lower surgery to create a penis. Metoidioplasty involves cutting ligaments around the clitoris to add length to the shaft and grafting skin around the shaft to create more girth. Optional additional procedures include scrotoplasty and urethral lengthening. . When you are cleared to leave the hospital, you will then be discharged home or to your local temporary accommodations.

Getting home after the surgery

After surgery, you won’t be able to drive so you’ll need someone 18 years or older to escort you back to your home or accommodations. You’ll also need someone to supervise you for 24 hours following surgery. 

If you do not have someone to escort you after surgery, Hospital Transfers may be a good option to help you get home or to your accommodation. 

Download the surgery workbook

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

Need support?

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