Check out my YouTube playlist for month-by-month updates during the beginning of my top surgery journey:
I got top surgery before T?
Yes, I did! Check out this video for more:
Who did my top surgery? Where?
I got surgery with Dr. Charles Garramone in Davie, FL (right outside of Ft. Lauderdale in South Florida.)
Below is my reveal video. Content warning: blood, scars, surgery.
What are the drains?
The drains are inserted inside the chest beneath the skin and allow for fluid that builds up to be released. This reduces inflammation and swelling. Not all surgeons use them!
Do I recommend the surgeon I went to? How was the staff and the experience?
Dr. Garramone’s specialty is the double incision surgery and I would definitely recommend him for that. I can’t speak for other kinds because I haven’t seen any of his peri-areolar results, and I did not get peri-areolar. I also love that he does 500 surgeries a year; he clearly knows what he’s doing and the process is methodical and clean cut. The staff was great, super accommodating and used the correct pronouns. They were respectful and time efficient.
The total cost of surgery was &7,800 — $6,500 for Garramone and $1,300 for the hospital fees. We filed for insurance after the fact (I have BlueCross BlueShield) but we didn’t get very much back. If you are going with Garramone, you should absolutely know that he and his office are very difficult to deal with in regards to insurance. I am very fortunate and thankful that my parents were willing to help me and pay out of pocket.
What kind of surgery did I get?
I got a double incision mastectomy. I had a very large chest (36DD) so Dr. Garramone had to join the incisions in the center of my chest to remove the excess skin and to prevent puckering and cleavage.
View this post on Instagram
Transition is not just for small-chested white trans boys. It is also for triple-D-sized, half Korean, chubby trans boys. Last week, a friend told me their doctor said they shouldn’t get top surgery because they wouldn’t get “good” results “because their chest was too big.” Their chest is smaller than mine was. I know so many other large-chested folks fear this. And this is exactly why I share such exposing photos of my breasts. Clear evidence that transition & top surgery & happiness with results is absolutely possible. A few other musings— I feel intensely vulnerable knowing folks (especially those who never knew me before my transition) can see my body as it was. The further I get from these photos, the more difficult it is both to view and to share them. But this is how my body was. The other day I found myself staring at the left photo and began to sob. I thought about how foreign my breasts look to me. How foreign they felt. How foreign my whole body often felt; how much of a warzone it was. The panic I used to feel as my breasts continued to grow came rushing back. I saw my breasts billowing from my chest, falling past my belly button and I remembered that ex-girlfriend who once told me she was jealous that, before my top surgery, my breasts had been larger than hers. I wanted to scream. My breasts were not desirable—they were prison. They were suffocating. They were painful incongruence. I often forget these memories on a day-to-day basis. Which is a privilege. Privilege of surgery, transition, of the forgetting itself. I think I usually look back at these old pictures solely as Transition Photos™. But as I stared the other day, I really saw myself. I saw how miserable I was. And how complacent I was in that misery. And so I wept tears of grief for the little boy trapped behind those enormous breasts. And I wept tears of happiness & gratitude for the man I have become. Lastly, as always, a reminder: Top surgery did not make me a man. Top surgery made me more comfortable in my body. Made my body feel safe to me. But my identity as a man is secure in my knowledge that I am a man, and not because of any surgery, hormones, or clothing.
Where did I stay? Does the hospital provide a place to stay?
I stayed at a place called New Beginnings Retreat (http://www.newbeginningsretreat.com/) which is a place designed for trans masculine individuals recovering from surgery. I really enjoyed the experience. The sense of community was really nice and I bonded with another guy who got surgery the same day as me. The hospital does not ‘provide’ a place to stay. Garramone’s website suggests some places to stay, as well under the “before surgery info” section — http://drgarramone.com/.
How long did I have to wait from the time that I called to schedule the surgery and the actual date of surgery? How did I go about setting up the surgery?
When you first contact the Garramone Center (on his website http://drgarramone.com/schedule/ or by phone) you will schedule a consultation, which is done over the phone. You will have to send in pictures of your exposed chest beforehand so Dr. Garramone can talk to you about the specifics of the surgery technique. To my knowledge, Garramone only does double incision masectomies so if you’re looking for peri or keyhole, I’d go elsewhere. During the phone call, you can ask him questions about the surgery and such. Afterwards, he transfers you over to his assistants with whom you can schedule your actual surgery. Before the surgery itself, you’ll need to send in financial agreements and payment, a letter of recommendation from your therapist or physician, and your medical clearance for surgery (you have to get medical clearance for any surgery.)
I initially tried to schedule my surgery back in November of 2014 and there was a date available two weeks after and in January. I scheduled it for January but I had to cancel it mainly because I did not have a supportive therapist. Once I got a therapist to sign my letter a few months later from a new therapist, I called and scheduled my surgery for two weeks after I called. I was lucky on this timing, and my schedule was also flexible. The time you might have to wait for the actual surgery all depends on what openings Garramone has and when you are available.
Again, all the details for this can be found on his Dr. Garramone’s website (http://drgarramone.com/).
I had not begun T (testosterone) so at the time of surgery so how was I able to get surgery?
Garramone does not require a person to be on testosterone to undergo surgery. He just needs a letter of recommendation.
Update: for more (current) information, visit my page on top surgery recovery and care.