“Hello, it’s me.” That’s actually the name of my blog, only in Spanish: Hola Soy Yo. I’m Franches, a former FACIALTEAM patient. In this third segment of a 4-part series, I share my personal FFS journey with you. Online videos were a big part of my research. Here I discuss how FFS surgery videos helped my analysis.
- Sifting through a sea of FFS Surgery Videos
- Types of FFS Surgery Videos
- FFS Surgery Testimonials
- FFS Surgical Simulations or Explanations
- Medical Conferences
- Actual facial feminization surgery videos
- Other Gender Affirming Video Details
Sifting through a sea of FFS Surgery Videos
There are all sorts of ffs surgery videos on YouTube, on other sites like blogs or surgeons’ websites, that can provide a lot of information when considering surgery. When watching online videos for my surgery research I was looking for clues or cues that would help me with my surgeon short list that would satisfy my 3 top criteria for surgery (results, peace of mind and cost). This means that when watching a single video, for example an FFS patient testimonial, I would pay attention to the face for results, to the bruising and hearing about their experience for peace of mind, and as much as possible to other clues about associated cost.
This may sound weird but I’m terrible watching ffs surgery videos. I easily get distracted and when that happens I look for either the back or the next button. If a testimonial video has no or little structure I have a hard time following and paying attention. If I lose interest in a video then I find little value for the purposes of my research. It’s the same with long winding videos that have too much information. In those cases rather than information I see noise and get overwhelmed and obfuscated.
To compound the issue, when patient videos are over 5 minutes in length they start to feel long to me and I lose interest. I can stay focused on long videos, say an hour long, but only if the content really interests me and is presented in an organized logical fashion, like a lecture or a professional presentation or an actual surgery video. There are so so many videos out there, that if I don’t get quick or instant satisfaction or interest, I’m out to the next one.
Types of FFS Surgery Videos
There are a few types of videos based on their content and it’s key to note that my interest in each type changed as I learnt more.
FFS Surgery Testimonials
The first type of video I was interested were patient testimonials. I wanted to hear about past patients and their experiences especially after surgery. I was really interested in learning and getting a sense of what to expect during recovery.
I also tried to look beyond the video testimonial and paid attention to how the person looked. From patient testimonials I wanted to figure out what previous patients were saying about their surgeries. On a separate level, depending on the kind of surgery, I also tried to evaluate their results against what I thought to be attractive.
My main objective when watching patient testimonial videos was to evaluate the surgeons for the purposes creating my shortlist.
FFS Surgical Simulations or Explanations
The second type of video I was interested in were based on surgery simulations. In many cases, these are not live videos but rather 3D animations explaining the procedures without showing actual surgeries. Another variation of this type of explanation videos are surgeons talking about their technique or their typical approach to a procedure. For example a 3D animation of how a forehead reconstruction is done, or a surgeon talking about their procedure using a plastic model of a cranium.
I became interested in watching surgical simulation or explanatory videos when I was trying to figure out what procedures would benefit my particular case for FFS and to get an idea of what the recovery could be.
When researching for BA I got to watch a number of videos, mostly surgeons explaining the different approaches to the surgery. I found most useful where they’d explain the different kinds and locations for their incisions and the pros and cons for each.
The third type of video I gained interest in was of medical conferences. These videos are usually recorded during a conference or seminar where a surgeon explains or teaches other surgeons and a medical audience about their procedures and best practices. In most cases you see a surgeon explaining their procedures with visual aids like a slideshow.
I first gained interest in medical conference videos to learn about the procedures, variations in techniques and to better understand the recovery process.
I learnt a lot from these videos, especially about the surgeons themselves. Paying attention to what they were saying, I was able to pick-up on their experience, their techniques, their pride in their work and other nuances of the person.
My problem with this kind of medical conference videos, as you can imagine, is that sometimes the language and the explanations were too technical or complex for me to understand. If I needed to make sense of other parts of the video, I would pause the video and do an online search to see if at least I could grasp the essence of what they were saying. Mind you, that doing this meant that I could be misinterpreting their explanation.
Actual facial feminization surgery videos
The fourth type of video that comes to mind are actual surgical videos. These are where a surgeon and their surgical team are recorded performing an actual surgery on a patient. This kind of video is by far the least interesting to me mainly because of the nature of the content. Just by seeing a scalpel being used to open the skin to start a procedure makes me cringe. For me it takes a lot of guts to see some of these videos.
I actually didn’t see too many of this kind of videos because of the graphical content in them and because I didn’t learn as much as from other types of videos, especially for the purposes of short-listing a surgeon. Having said this, I did learn a little from the few that I saw. They gave some context of what happens in an operating theatre which helped me understand what I would be going through.
Another big “take away” from FFS live surgery videos was to understand the recovery process. By seeing how a procedure is performed, specifically a procedure I had done, really put my recovery process in context.
I did get to see a surgical video of a breast augmentation with fat grafting from the same surgeon that did my breast augmentation. I watched it a few weeks before my surgery and when it finished playing I kind of wished I hadn’t watched it. I thought what I had just seen was just too graphical for me at the time. But as I prepared for my surgery having watched that video became very useful to me. It helped me understand the healing and recovery process and why I was feeling the pain I felt as well as understanding why they suggest limiting physical activity for a few weeks after surgery.
Other Gender Affirming Video Details
For my FFS/HT research phase, I watched and paid more attention to the testimonial and simulation videos. Then, as I learn more for the BA research cycle, it was then that I also paid attention to the other types of videos I list above. What I’m trying to say is that after the experience of the first round of surgeries I became more comfortable getting into more technical videos.
The source of the videos provided a good reference to evaluate their content. A video posted by the surgeon’s office has often a marketing and branding agenda even when the content is educational. A vlog from a past patient talking about their experience may not have a marketing agenda, but sometimes it might. Medical and surgical videos tend to be more educational in spirit.
Details I looked for in surgeons videos
- Production values. When I see a video with high production values I take it as a sign that the surgeon’s office pays attention to details and cares about their business and patients. On the other hand, sloppy videos (shaky cameras, bad sound, out of focus, low lighting, random edits, etc.) communicate what could be an unprofessional practice.
- The demeanour of the subject in testimonial videos. I want to see happy patients. I don’t want to see someone that appears to be interviewed by her majesty’s secret service. I tend to draw a direct correlation between the demeanour of the subject and the overall experience they’ve had.
- Reading or rather looking in between the lines of patient testimonial videos. Looking at bruising and swelling rather than just hearing what they’re saying, to see how they are recovering. If they look awake may mean they’re not in pain or tired. Reading between the lines does take a bit of investigative effort. I tried to pay attention to how long had passed between the surgery and when the video was shot.
- Evaluating the video gallery or collection of testimonial videos. Similar to the before and after photo galleries I paid attention to the difference in lighting, makeup, date the video was recorded, diversity, results I found attractive, how extensive is their video gallery, etc.
- The overall results and if aesthetically they were pleasing to me. Did they fit my definition or perception of “natural” and feminine.
Once I knew my list of procedures I came back to watching videos and paid attention to the specific results on those procedures I would be getting, and when available, the progression a few days after surgery or time after the surgery (ie. a year or two for those testimonials that were recorded after that long). I wanted to evaluate how natural the results were, the evolution of their recovery, and the patient’s energy when the videos were shot soon after surgery.
Details I looked for in patient videos
There are lots and lots of vlogs or personal videos of patients talking about their surgical experiences. Because of the “personal” nature of these videos there are no specific standards like you may see on some of the surgeons’ video testimonial gallery. This made it difficult to me to evaluate from a results perspective.
- The first thing I looked for was if the face of the person fit my definition or perception of “natural” and feminine.
- I looked for the details about the procedures they had done, specifically if they listed what procedures they had done and when. Before deciding on which FFS procedures I wanted to see how their procedures looked to see if that would help me decide on my own list of procedures. But after I had already decided on my own procedures I then paid attention to their recovery and the impact the same procedures I would be getting.
- When researching for BA most of my focus was on the recovery process. When watching personal videos regarding BA I paid attention to anything the patients had to say about their pain levels, aftercare procedures, recovery timelines and protocols.
Watching all these kinds of surgery related videos gave me a lot of context about the surgeons and the procedures themselves. They didn’t just help me to come up with a short list of surgeons/surgical centres, but they also helped me better understand the procedures and what to expect during and after recovery.
“Hello, It’s Me” (as translated to English) is by Franches, author and owner of HolaSoyYo.com, a blog of thoughts and experiences with a unique trans-feminine perspective. Holding an MBA and BSc. in Industrial and Systems Engineering, she has taught at some of North America’s most prestigious digital media schools. Her facial gender transition surgery with FACIALTEAM took place in October 2016.