Is Facial Feminization Surgery painful?

Posted on April 12, 2019 by Aaricia

One of the biggest concerns trans women express in regards to Facial Feminization Surgery is: ‘It looks painful! Will it hurt?’ It’s normal to worry, it’s a major surgery after all. But luckily, as most patients report it, the swelling and bruising make it look far more dramatic than it is. Even though every person experiences their recovery differently, the pain is made very manageable.

FFS generally causes more discomfort than pain

Most people expect pain after their Facial Feminization Surgery and they mentally prepare for that to great lengths. But experience tells us that the discomfort is what really bothers patients most.

One would imagine that waking up from the surgery and going through the first night has to be a painful process. But in reality there is a lot of numbness, and the feeling of sedation lingers. And since any other potential pain during the entire stay is managed with medication, patients generally don’t experience pain at that time. 

In the testimonial below, you can hear Dr Bart van de Ven ask his patient Alev how she experienced her recovery.

What kind of discomfort can FFS cause?

Depending on the procedures one has had, there will be a degree of swelling and of numbness. These cause the largest amount of discomfort.

The main reasons for discomfort due to numbness and swelling:

  • One may experience heavy swelling around the eyes, causing the patient to not be able to see properly the first few days.  We offer a cooling system developed especially to help this swelling go down as fast as possible.
  • One may have a large amount of swelling on the lips, causing the patient to not be able to close the mouth and/or properly swallow. It can be very uncomfortable. We provide an adapted menu to make sure you can eat and drink.
  • One may experience the sensation of not being able to breathe properly. This is what generally causes the most panic. After a rhinoplasty for example, one is forced to breathe through the mouth. When waking up from surgery, this can lead to a feeling of anxiety. The patient feels confused and forgets about the obstruction in the nose for a few seconds before realizing they can breathe and that all is fine. We have a small device that can help you breathe properly through the mouth in case there is a lot of swelling on and around the mouth as well.
  • Some parts of the face may feel extremely tight and you may not have a lot of sensation in it, which can feel quite odd when talking and trying to use facial expressions.

The few things that can cause pain after an FFS

  • (Touching) the parts of your face where there have been incisions;
  • Mild pain when putting on or removing the facemask;
  • There’s a link between pain and psychology. The more you are able to find ways to relax and to keep stress levels low, the smoother your recovery will be, and the less pain you will experience.

Read more about 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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