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 beneath the skin and allow for fluid that builds up to be released. This reduces inflammation and swelling. Not all surgeons use them! Those that do usually keep the drains in for a week, during which the drains need to be emptied daily.
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. When I was reviewing top surgeons, he was one of the only surgeons who seemed top operate often on folks with larger chests, which was applicable to me. The fact that he does about 500 surgeries a year gave me confidence in his skill and process. My experience with his staff was good, as well. They were accommodating, respectful and efficient.
How much does surgery cost? Insurance?
In 2015 when I got surgery, the total cost of surgery was $7,800 — $6,500 for Garramone and $1,300 for the hospital fees. This has likely increased since and as far as I understand surgery costs about 10k these days. As for insurance, we filed for insurance after the fact (I had BlueCross BlueShield at the time) but didn’t get very much back. In full transparency, Garramone's office was 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 (36DDD) 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. To learn about other kinds of top surgery, check out this page.
Where did I stay? Does the hospital provide a place to stay?
I stayed at New Beginnings Retreat (http://www.newbeginningsretreat.com/) which is a recovery center designed for trans masculine individuals recovering from surgery. I really enjoyed the experience. The sense of community there was strong and I bonded with another trans 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 from an MD or a therapist. I got one from a therapist.