Science

FFS Surgery Expectations: how They Affect your Satisfaction with Results

FFS surgery expectations are directly related to your satisfaction with the outcomes of surgery.

Yet the circumstances of your unique situation mean there are many factors to take into account when managing expectations: age, physical health, perception of beauty, lifestyle, mental health, etc.

Understandably, you and your family’s expectations are also based on how you think life will be different with a more feminine face. These pre-existing assumptions unconsciously motivate us but also can be the source of problems when not managed sufficiently.

Expectations of facial feminization surgery results may be beneficial if based on what clinical psychologist Dr. Natalia Zhikhareva PhD calls “objective hopes of realistic outcomes.” She explains that imagined hopes and “confirmation bias” can be misleading if unrealistic.

What are my FFS Surgery Expectations?

With expectations after FFS Surgery we refer to all those subjective ideas we have about how the results of the surgery will be and how they will affect our lives.

When we are faced with an anticipated event, we inevitably generate expectations that make us imagine, correctly or not, how things are going to be when that event occurs. In the case of facial gender affirming surgery, it’s hard not to have preconceived ideas of what the result of the surgery will be, especially if you have only watched positive testimonials or read negative reviews of certain techniques that have conditioned your thinking.

How feminine my forehead will look, how round my chin will be or how the reaction of others will change is going to be different for every unique person–and is difficult to predict ahead of time.

You may visualize how certain situations will change after your facial feminization surgery. For example, you may think of how your family will treat you, of walking out in public with greater self-confidence than before, of talking to strangers with less fear of prejudice due to your appearance.

These kinds of “daydreams” of the potential changes in daily life are normal. It is natural and healthy for them to run through your head. Yet they must be rooted in objectivity and based on the reality of your particular situation.

So how do you manage surgical expectations?

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Unrealistic Expectations of FFS Surgery

Perhaps you imagine that the people who treat you badly or misgender you now see you as more feminine, so the problem will be gone. Also, you may assume that when you look in the mirror once healed, you won’t recognize any trace of the former face with which you did not identify with. These are examples of unrealistic FFS surgery expectations.

The problem comes when our imagination goes too far, making you believe your happiness is going to be much greater. As if by magic, that all your problems are going to be solved and that your social relationships will be seamless after the surgery. These types of expectations are not realistic and can make you feel very frustrated after surgery, because you expected more of it.

When we talk about unrealistic projections, we refer to those thoughts that lead us erroneously to believe that all and any problems we have after the operation will suddenly disappear. This kind of assumption needs to be managed.

Ultimatums such as “everyone will treat me well” and demands such as “an immediate increase in self-esteem” or to finally achieve long-desired happiness may cause feelings of regret or deception that can spiral into depression. Presumptions that have nothing to do with the facial surgery itself, yet with external factors we cannot control, become problematic if not adjusted before surgery.

These are red flags showing you need to manage your expectations of surgery. If any of the answers go beyond looking more feminine and gaining more confidence in yourself in social situations, then you should rethink what facial gender affirmation can do with the help of your health professionals.

Realistic Expectations of Facial Feminization Surgery

You need to identify what your expectations are in order to know if they need working on.

Dr. Z suggest that first, you may write down all your thoughts of why you think you need surgery and how it will help in your life. Then talk about this list with people who will have an objective perspective.

This can help you build realistic expectations of facial gender surgery. Speaking with your surgeons or a psychologist about your objectives will also determine this to great extent. Remember, surgery has its risks and results will vary depending on the patient and the type of surgeon or technique.

Try different questioning exercises: Simply ask yourself, “What is my goal with facial feminization?”  Maybe deep down you hope you’ll be prettier or younger. Then, put this assumption into perspective: Are you already pretty? Are your FFS procedures really designed to make people look younger?

Ask yourself, do you want to look like someone you are not? Do you believe facial surgery is going to solve all your personal problems immediately? Coming to terms with the the fact that facial gender affirming does not automatically create beauty for everyone is elemental to your later satisfaction with results.

Obstacles to Satisfaction with FFS Results

By general rule, what is achieved with facial gender confirming surgery is to feminize the face by softening the masculine traits. As a consequence of this gender affirming surgery, well-being and quality of life may indeed increase.

The concept is that you may perceive a face that is more in line with your self-image. Nonetheless, what cannot be expected of facial feminizing surgery is that other vital goals in life will be achieved that have nothing to do with the results of the surgery. In particular, it is important to separate the concept of feminizing and beautifying, since they are distinct.

With feminizing surgery we change our physical features, but it is up to each patient to personally work on the emotional circumstances that may impede us from appreciating the positive changes of the feminization surgery. Other obstacles to satisfaction with results may include an obsession with looking for every minuscule masculine trait, demanding unnatural perfection or the fear rooted in the belief that people always are “clocking” or judging you.

Facial gender confirming surgery (FGCS) is not a magic wand that will erase your problems or dysphoria in one fell swoop. FGCS is just a very effective tool for softening certain masculine facial features and bringing them as close as possible to female parameters.

FFS surgeons are not cosmetic surgeons, whose main objective is to make you younger or more “beautiful,” a very subjective matter. See this livestream with the specialists who discuss the importance of adjusting patient expectations of facial gender confirming surgery:

Emotions Related to FFS Surgery Expectations

Keeping your expectations realistic is very important to your emotional well-being. This is because if we have overly high expectations, it is more likely that you will generate anxiety and worry about the surgery.

You are also more likely to be obsessed with looking for results too soon, causing stress and frustration. Also, with unrealistically high expectations, dissatisfaction with the results of surgery is more likely.

After FFS Surgery, most patients experience an improvement in their quality of life over time because they feel more self-confident and this helps the dysphoria to disappear. There are scientific studies about the quality of life after FFS Surgery which support this fact.

In conclusion, if you harbour unrealistic expectations of the FFS surgery, it is more likely that you will not be satisfied with the results since they will not align with your preconceived ideas of the benefits. We recommend that you regulate your expectations to feel good and live the FFS process in a healthier and more conscious way.

It takes time and effort to develop realistic and healthy FFS surgery expectations. We must be aware of how far the surgery go and recognize the limitations of each case. It is in the hands of each individual to seek ways to manage their personal and emotional perspectives.

See this tutorial on the Facialteam philosophy which addresses the importance of FFS Surgery expectations:

Patient Relations Manager Lilia Koss, presentator of Lilia's Livestreams
About the author

Hello world! I’m Lilia Koss and I use she, her, and they pronouns. What are yours? With a background in humanities and diverse professional experiences, I have been working with the Facialteam founders and directors since 2018. Involved from the ground up, so I’ve had hands in many pots: patient coordination, orientation events on 3 continents, social media, written and audiovisual content about our gender-affirming healthcare...but now life is more defined. Lately, I focus my energies on Public Relations, community management and live streaming to help raise the visibility of trans health. Life is pretty complete.