Female-to-male (FTM) surgery is a complex procedure. As a result, it can be difficult to know how to correctly care for your chest after undergoing FTM top surgery.
The following will help you understand the basics of how to properly care for your chest to prevent scarring and maximize the results you achieve.
Following your FTM surgery, you should expect to wear a compression vest or binder for approximately one month. This prevents fluid buildup and helps your body properly readjust.
There are no dressing changes to be done until you have the graft dressings taken down after the first week (if you have a double incision mastectomy). At this point there will be daily dressing changes to the nipple grafts. You may not be able to shower until the grafts dressings are removed because the grafts must remain dry during the first week to ensure they reestablish themselves in their new position. You will still be able to bathe and get the rest of the chest wet.
If you have the keyhole/periareolar procedure, you will be able to shower and get everything wet the day after surgery. There are usually drainage tubes with the keyhole procedure that you can hang on a lanyard while washing. Washing and showering will ensure that you keep the treated areas clean so that they can heal properly.
During the first week, avoid as much activity as you can and limit exercise to walking. Although rare, your chest is most vulnerable to infection and tears during this first week so you want to be especially careful.
During the next month until full recovery, it’s very important to keep your arms elevated above heart level if they feel swollen.
Sleep on your back for the first 2 weeks of your recovery period. At this point you may sleep on your side. Avoid any heavy lifting or intense exercise that involves the upper body during this time. This can aggravate the chest.
After the first week, if you have the double incision mastectomy, there will be daily dressing changes using an antibacterial ointment. Change your nipple dressing after showering. Any minor bleeding or peeling will be temporary and shouldn’t be a source of concern. The purpose of the ointment is to allow the grafts to heal without sticking to the gauze. Keep the binder on for another 2 weeks.
If you have the keyhole/periareolar procedure, the drainage tubes will probably be taken out within the first week. At this point you should keep the binder on securely to minimize the risk of fluid building up under the skin where the breast tissue was removed.
These instructions are critical to the proper care of your chest after FTM surgery and in reducing any risk of infection or scarring.
Scarring is a common concern around FTM surgery, so you’ll want to be careful in how you treat the surgical areas. You can prevent scarring on your chest using products like Skinmedica Scar Recovery Gel.
This gel reduces scarring and enhances healing for the first year after surgery by supporting the formation of skin. Apply the gel after you’ve showered and changed your dressings.
These are all good ways for you to care for your chest after FTM top surgery, however you should always discuss proper care with your FTM surgeon so that you have a comprehensive program in place and increase the speed of your recovery.