Facial Feminisation Surgery

Facial Feminisation Surgery with Dr Kernohan in Sydney

Facial Feminisation Surgery, or FFS, is a specialised set of surgical procedures that aim to modify the facial features to become more typically feminine. The procedure is sought after particularly by transgender women and gender-diverse individuals who feel that their facial features do not reflect their true identity. For someone whose gender identity doesn’t align with their physical appearance, FFS can be an important step towards aligning these aspects.

The decision to undergo FFS is deeply personal and can be motivated by a desire to ease gender dysphoria, improve social interactions, or simply to see a reflection that resonates with one’s internal sense of self. It’s about bringing harmony between your outer appearance and inner identity.

Sydney Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr Michael Kernohan performs gender affirmation surgery, including Top Surgery and Facial Feminisation Surgery.

What Is Facial Feminisation Surgery?

Facial Feminisation Surgery (FFS) encompasses a range of cosmetic and reconstructive surgical procedures designed to alter masculine facial features to bring them closer to a feminine spectrum. The goal is not to create a new face but to refine and reshape the existing features to be more congruent with the individual’s gender identity. It’s a highly individualised process, as the face is a complex tapestry of structures, each contributing to the overall perception of gender.

The procedures that fall under the umbrella of FFS can include, but are not limited to:

  • Forehead recontouring: This involves reshaping the forehead to soften the brow ridge and reduce any prominence that is typically associated with male faces
  • Jaw and chin recontouring: To create a more oval or heart-shaped face, the jaw can be reshaped, and the chin can be tapered or shortened
  • Rhinoplasty: This procedure refines the nose to better fit feminine proportions and shapes
  • Cheek augmentation: Implants or fat grafting can be used to enhance cheek fullness, contributing to a softer facial contour
  • Lip lift and augmentation: This enhances the fullness of the lips and reduces the distance between the nose and the upper lip
  • Hairline advancement: This procedure lowers the hairline to reduce the forehead’s height and create a more typical female hairline shape

Benefits of the Facial Feminisation Surgery Procedure

The benefits of Facial Feminisation Surgery are multifaceted, impacting individuals on both a personal and social level. Here are some of the advantages that patients often experience following FFS:

  • Alignment of Physical Appearance with Gender Identity: FFS can be instrumental in helping individuals align their physical appearance with their gender identity, which is often a significant step in the transition process
  • Enhanced Comfort in Public Spaces: Many individuals report feeling more at ease in public and less concerned about being misgendered after undergoing FFS
  • Positive Impact on Mental Health: The relief of gender dysphoria symptoms following FFS can have a positive effect on mental health, reducing anxiety and depression related to gender incongruence

It’s important to note that while FFS can offer these benefits, the decision to undergo surgery should be made after careful consideration and consultation with medical professionals who specialise in gender-affirming procedures. The journey is highly personal, and the benefits must be weighed against the potential risks and the individual’s unique circumstances.

For many, the benefits of FFS go beyond the physical changes. The surgery can be a pivotal moment in one’s gender affirmation journey, providing a sense of congruence and authenticity that permeates all aspects of life. It’s about making the person in the mirror match the person within, which can be an incredibly empowering experience.

Is Facial Feminisation Surgery Right for Me?

Deciding whether Facial Feminisation Surgery is the right choice for you involves introspection and often, consultation with medical and mental health professionals. Here are some considerations to help you determine if FFS might be a suitable path:

  • Personal Goals: Reflect on what you hope to achieve with FFS. Are you looking to align your physical appearance with your gender identity, ease gender dysphoria, or simply feel more comfortable in your skin? Your personal goals are central to this decision
  • Health Status: FFS is a significant surgical intervention. Being in good overall health and having realistic expectations about the outcomes are important prerequisites
  • Support System: Having a strong support network of friends, family, or community can be crucial for your emotional well-being before, during, and after the surgery
  • Financial Considerations: FFS can be a substantial financial commitment. Ensuring you have the means to afford the surgery and the associated costs, including recovery and potential follow-up procedures, is essential
  • Mental Health: It’s beneficial to be in a stable place mentally. Some surgeons and insurance companies may require letters from mental health professionals confirming your readiness for surgery
  • Long-Term Impact: Consider how FFS fits into your long-term plans. The changes are permanent, so it’s important to think about how they will affect your future

If you find yourself nodding along, feeling that these points resonate with your situation, then FFS might be a step worth considering. It’s not a decision to be made lightly, but for many, it’s a profoundly positive one. Remember, the right choice is deeply personal and varies from one individual to another. What’s right for someone else may not be right for you, and vice versa.

How is the Facial Feminisation Surgery Procedure Performed

Facial Feminisation Surgery is not a one-size-fits-all procedure; it’s a series of surgeries tailored to your specific needs and goals. Here’s an overview of how these procedures are performed:

  1. Consultation and Planning:
  1. Initial meetings with Dr Kernohan to discuss goals and expectations
  2. A thorough examination of your facial structure
  3. Imaging and sometimes 3D facial scanning to plan the surgical approach
  1. Anaesthesia: General anaesthesia is used, meaning you’ll be asleep during the surgery
  2. Surgical Techniques:
  3. Forehead Contouring: Dr Kernohan may make an incision along the hairline, lift the forehead skin, and work on the bone underneath to create a smoother contour
  4. Jaw and Chin Reshaping: Incisions are usually made inside the mouth to avoid visible scarring. Dr Kernohan then sculpts the bone to the desired shape
  5. Rhinoplasty: Through incisions inside the nose or across the columella (the area between the nostrils), the nose is reshaped to a more feminine appearance
  6. Cheek Augmentation: This can be achieved with fat grafting or implants, depending on the desired outcome
  7. Lip Lift: A small strip of skin and tissue is removed from under the nose to elevate the upper lip
  8. Hairline Advancement: The hairline can be brought forward by removing a portion of the forehead skin and pulling the scalp forward
  1. Closing Incisions: Dr Kernohan will use sutures, tissue glue, or clips to close the incisions
  2. Immediate Postoperative Care:
  1. You’ll be taken to a recovery area to be closely monitored as you wake up from anaesthesia
  2. Pain management and monitoring for any immediate postoperative complications

The specific techniques used will vary based on your anatomy and the changes you’re looking to achieve. The surgery can take several hours, and in some cases, procedures may be staged at different times for safety and effectiveness.

Recovery after Facial Feminisation Surgery Procedure

Recovery from Facial Feminisation Surgery is a significant part of the journey and varies from person to person. Here’s what you can expect during the recovery phase:

  • Immediate Post-Op: You’ll likely spend the first night in the hospital for monitoring. Swelling and bruising are common and will be most pronounced in the first few days
  • First Week: Rest is crucial. Plan to take time off work and avoid strenuous activities. You’ll have follow-up appointments to remove bandages or sutures and to check on your healing progress. Pain can be managed with medications prescribed by your surgeon
  • Following Weeks: Gradually, you can return to more normal activities, but still avoid heavy lifting or high-impact activities. Swelling and bruising will start to subside, and you’ll begin to see the changes to your facial features
  • Long-Term Recovery: It can take several months for all swelling to diminish and up to a year for the final results to stabilise. Some may require additional touch-up procedures for optimal results

During recovery, it’s important to:

  • Follow Your Surgeon’s Instructions: Adhering to Dr Kernohan’s guidance can help minimise the risk of complications and ensure the best possible outcome
  • Attend All Follow-Up Appointments: These are essential to monitor your healing and address any concerns promptly
  • Take Care of Your Mental Health: Recovery can be emotionally challenging. Support from friends, family, or a counsellor can be beneficial
  • Be Patient: Healing takes time, and it’s important to have realistic expectations about the recovery process and the gradual emergence of your new facial contours

Remember, each person’s recovery is unique, and Dr Kernohan will provide you with a detailed recovery plan tailored to the specific procedures you’ve undergone. It’s important to keep in close contact with your surgical team and report any concerns immediately.

Risks of Facial Feminisation Surgery Procedure

As with any surgical procedure, Facial Feminisation Surgery carries potential risks and complications. Being aware of these is crucial when making an informed decision about undergoing FFS. Some of the risks include:

  • Infection: Despite the sterile environment, infections can occur, requiring antibiotics or additional treatment
  • Bleeding: There is a risk of bleeding during or after surgery, which might necessitate a blood transfusion or additional surgery
  • Scarring: Any surgery leaves scars, although FFS scars are typically placed in less visible areas
  • Nerve Damage: There’s a possibility of temporary or permanent nerve damage, which can affect facial sensations or movements
  • Asymmetry: The face may not be perfectly symmetrical post-surgery, which is also true for faces not undergoing surgery
  • Dissatisfaction with Results: There’s a risk that the final outcome may not meet your expectations
  • Anaesthesia Risks: General anaesthesia comes with its own set of risks, such as allergic reactions or breathing difficulties

It’s also important to consider the emotional and psychological risks. Adjusting to your new appearance can take time, and some individuals may experience a period of emotional ups and downs as they heal.

To mitigate these risks:

  • Choose a Qualified Surgeon: Ensure your surgeon is experienced in FFS and has a track record of successful outcomes
  • Understand the Procedure: Have a thorough understanding of what the surgery entails and the recovery process
  • Follow Pre- and Post-Operative Instructions: Adhering to your plastic surgeon’s advice can reduce the risk of complications
  • Have Realistic Expectations: Recognise that surgery is about improvement, not perfection, and that it may take time to adjust to your new appearance

Discussing these risks with Dr Kernohan can help you understand the likelihood of complications and the measures taken to prevent them. It’s a necessary step to ensure that you are comfortable with the procedure and its potential outcomes.

Cost of Facial Feminisation Surgery Procedure in Sydney

The cost of Facial Feminisation Surgery in Sydney can vary widely depending on several factors, including the specific procedures you choose, the surgeon’s experience, the facility where the surgery is performed, and the extent of the surgery required. Here’s a breakdown of the potential costs:

  • Surgeon’s Fees: This is typically the most significant portion of the cost and will vary based on the surgeon’s expertise and reputation
  • Anaesthetist’s Fees: The cost for the professional who provides your anaesthesia during surgery
  • Hospital or Surgical Facility Costs: Fees associated with the operating room, equipment, and hospital stay if required
  • Pre- and Post-Operative Care: Includes consultations, follow-up visits, and any necessary medical tests
  • Medication Costs: Any prescriptions for pain relief or antibiotics post-surgery
  • Additional Procedure Costs: If additional procedures such as skin treatments or non-surgical interventions are recommended, they will add to the overall cost

In certain cases, Medicare might pay for a part of the surgery. If that’s the case, you can also connect with your health insurance provider to pay for some of the charges. In case, your claim isn’t approved by Medicare, you could opt for surgery financing plans.

Learn more about plastic surgery fees on Dr Kernohan’s pricing page. Alternatively, you can contact Dr Kernohan’s team for a price estimate or to set up an appointment today.

FAQs about Facial Feminisation Surgery


What is the best age to undergo Facial Feminisation Surgery?

  • There is no universal “best age” for FFS; it’s more about when you feel ready for the procedure. However, it’s important to have fully matured facial bones, which typically occurs in the late teens to early twenties. Consultation with Dr Kernohan can help determine the right timing for you based on your personal circumstances and health.

How long does it take to recover from FFS?

  • Recovery times can vary, but most people can expect to return to normal activities within 2-6 weeks after surgery. Complete healing, especially the subsidence of swelling and the full emergence of the surgical results, can take up to a year.

Will I feel like myself after FFS?

  • Many individuals report feeling more like themselves than ever before because their outward appearance better matches their gender identity. However, it’s also common to go through a period of adjustment as you get used to your new features.

Can FFS be reversed if I’m not happy with the results?

  • While some procedures can be revised, FFS is largely permanent. It’s crucial to have realistic expectations and to choose a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon to ensure the best possible outcome. Thorough pre-surgical consultations and planning are key to satisfaction with the results.

Is FFS covered by health insurance in Australia?

  • Coverage for FFS varies by insurance provider and individual policy. Some insurers may cover certain aspects of the surgery if it’s deemed medically necessary for the treatment of gender dysphoria. It’s important to check with your insurance provider and obtain pre-approval if possible.

Further Reading about Facial Feminisation Surgery