Recovery after FFS—First week

Recovery after FFS—First week

The day of the procedure

Right after surgery one may experience the following:

  • General swelling and bruising. Swelling and bruising of the eyes after a forehead reduction and hairline lowering. One might not be able to see well because of it, which can be frightening.
  • Double vision can be present for several days or even weeks if the frontal bossing that had to be removed was big.
  • Dry mouth and difficulties drinking, especially after a lip lift and lipofilling of the lips since the lips can get so swollen one can’t close their mouth or swallow properly.
  • Difficulties breathing through the nose, feeling of an obstruction in the nose, having to breathe through the mouth after a rhinoplasty. The first night after surgery breathing through the nose will be impossible because of the tampons that were inserted. These will be removed the next day by the morning nurse.
  • Dizziness, nausea, and vomiting (mostly with jaw and/or chin procedures and rhinoplasty).


These symptoms might linger during the next few days.

The first night might be quite uncomfortable due to these experiences. We have several systems in place to help you sleep, to manage the pain, and to help you with this discomfort. One of these systems is a cooling mask (Hilotherm) that will help you get rid of the swelling around your eyes and your jaw/chin. The cooling effect also works in a soothing way.



Day 1 post-op

  • In the early morning, the night nurse will check up on you, change wound dressings, remove the tampons from the nose, and help you shower and/or wash your hair.
  • You can decide to have breakfast then, or at a later time. In case antibiotics need to be taken, it is necessary to eat at least something small to go with it, like yogurt, which will be available to you.
  • Since the body is working so hard to recover, the patient will often feel exhausted and go right back to sleep after the nurse did her round. Compression stockings need to stay on during this time to avoid blood clots since patients don’t move a lot.
  • Body temperature will rise during this stage of recovery. It is called “resorption” fever caused by the body working hard to clean up the internal bleeding. This is nothing to worry about.
  • Patients mostly don’t experience only little or no pain since everything still feels numb and insensitive.
  • The cooling mask will remain accessible during the first day, making recovery more comfortable.
  • Depending on the procedures, one can feel hoarse, have an aching throat, and experience trouble swallowing.
  • Often, patients report a fear of sleeping because they are afraid they won’t be able to properly breathe. This can result in a panic attack. Whenever you feel that way, you can call for Elli, Petra or a nurse. They will help you get through it. You will also get sleep medication for the night, to make sure you can have a peaceful night.

Day 2 post-op

  • Prepare to feel exhausted, and to not have much – if any – energy.
  • Depending on the procedures one had, there might be more swelling than the first day. One might feel worse than day one.
  • Since the adrenaline of the surgery is gone, and the patient can’t see any of the final results yet due to bruising and swelling, it is possible one starts to feel depressed. The patient might even start feeling like they have done something they shouldn’t have. This is normal, and these feelings will pass. But be prepared to be very kind to yourself as your body is doing some of the toughest healing jobs. Know that it might take a few weeks before morale rises again.

Day 3 post-op

  • For half of the patients, this is the hardest day. The other half is slowly starting to retrieve some of their energy, starting to feel better and leaving their rooms more often.
  • The swelling is starting to subside. Blue bruises start turning yellow and start moving down.
  • Patients don’t report pain. Only being uncomfortable.

Day 4 post-op

  • Some patients find the energy to go out for a walk.
  • Patients are still swollen and have purple and yellow bruising, but things are getting better and better. We have scarves available in the clinic if you want to cover your face a bit.

Day 5 post-op

The final control:

  • Facemasks are removed
  • Nose molds are removed
  • Stitches or staples are removed
  • Post-op pictures are taken
  • The patient is allowed to leave and go back home. In rare cases the patient doesn’t feel strong enough yet and decides to stay a bit longer.


Below you will find a drawing one of our patients made, explaining how her recovery went during the first 6 days!

General information, depending on procedures:

  • You might not be able to wear a wig during the first days of recovery (forehead recontouring, hairline lowering);
  • You might not be able to wear contact lenses due to the swelling on the eyes; Don’t forget to bring your glasses!
  • Caution when chewing, as you might feel numbness in your upper lip;
  • Your voice might temporarily sound different due to intubation from general anaesthesia, or due to swelling in the area that was worked on around the voice (tracheal shave recovery advice).

FFS Recovery

Kathleen’s First Week After Facial Feminisation Surgery

Cheryl’s First Week After Facial Feminisation Surgery

FAQ Recovery Facial Feminization Surgery

You still have another question? Feel free to ask! We will answer your question and if generally applicable add it to the FAQ of this page.


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