Gender Affirming Vocal Surgery
Find Your Voice: Gender Affirming Voice Surgery
Gender affirming voice surgery, otherwise known as vocal feminization surgery (VFS) or more specifically Vocal Fold Shortening and Retrodisplacement of the Anterior Commissure (VFSRAC) is a surgical procedure designed to alter the pitch, resonance, and quality of a person’s voice to align with their gender identity. For many transgender individuals, their voice can be a significant source of discomfort and dysphoria. At our ENT practice, we offer VFSRAC as part of our commitment to providing compassionate care and support for all patients seeking gender affirming surgeries.
How is Gender Affirming Voice Surgery Performed?
Your provider will first evaluate your vocal range and quality before the procedure to determine the optimal pitch for your voice and discuss your goals and expectations for the outcome of the procedure.
Unlike other forms of voice feminization surgery, VFSRAC involves a unique surgical concept and procedure. During the surgery, advanced micro-endoscopic instruments are used to remove 1/3 of the vocal fold membrane and internal tissue without the need for a skin incision. The new structures are then sutured tightly with permanent suture material at two precisely calculated locations of the vocal fold surgical site.
The surgical site is very small, only about 3-5mm in size, and the knots are tied using the smallest permanent thread available. One of the key elements of a successful VFSRAC result is the use of permanent suture material which can induce progressive thinning of the vocal fold mass to achieve a higher fundamental frequency and keep the result permanent. Overall, VFSRAC is a highly effective and safe surgical technique for achieving voice feminization and is considered to be the gold standard in voice feminization surgery.
Our doctors are highly trained and experienced in providing medical services to transgender patients, and we take great care to ensure that our patients receive compassionate and personalized care. We understand that undergoing transoral tracheal shave surgery is a crucial step for many transgender individuals in affirming their gender identity and achieving a more congruent physical appearance. Therefore, we approach our patients’ concerns and goals with empathy, and we are committed to supporting them throughout their surgical journey.
In addition to empathy, our doctors have a deep understanding of the unique healthcare needs and challenges faced by transgender individuals. We have experience working with patients who are undergoing hormone therapy, gender confirmation surgery, and other related procedures, and we are aware of the potential psychological and social factors that may affect transgender patients, such as gender dysphoria and discrimination. We are committed to providing appropriate referrals and support to our patients, as needed.
The VFSRAC approach is unique in its endoscopic modification of the size, length, and thickness of male vocal folds to achieve female characteristics, without requiring any skin incision. This sets it apart from other VFS techniques, which only shorten the vocal folds without addressing thickness, size, or airflow. By optimizing airflow and addressing all other vocal fold characteristics, including suture technique, the VFSRAC approach achieves a natural-sounding increase in pitch with minimal damage to vocal fold tissue and the larynx.
After Gender Affirming Voice Surgery, patients can expect to experience some discomfort, swelling, and hoarseness for a few days to a few weeks. Your surgeon may recommend voice rest for the first few days, during which the patient should avoid speaking or whispering to allow the vocal cords to heal properly. The patient may also be prescribed pain medication and/or anti-inflammatory medication to manage discomfort and swelling.
The length of time required to achieve a fully feminized voice pitch after undergoing VFSRAC surgery typically ranges from 6 to 12 months. However, this timeframe can vary depending on various factors, including the patient’s age, recovery capacity, vocal fold characteristics, mental state, and their ability to follow all post-op care instructions and voice exercises to retrain the patient’s phonatory and resonance patterns.
After the initial recovery period, the surgeon may recommend speech therapy to help the patient adjust to their new voice and develop healthy vocal habits. Speech therapy can also help the patient improve their vocal range and quality over time. The length and frequency of speech therapy sessions will depend on the patient’s individual needs and goals.
At LACENTA, we believe that all individuals experiencing gender dysphoria should have access to gender-affirming care, regardless of their insurance status or income. We understand that the cost of gender-affirming care can be a barrier for some patients, and we are committed to providing compassionate and affordable care to all who seek it. We work with over 100 different insurance carriers and offer flexible payment plans for those who are uninsured or who’s carrier will not cover the procedure to help make gender-affirming care more accessible to our patients.
At LACENTA, we prioritize patient safety, comfort, and satisfaction. Our team of healthcare professionals is dedicated to providing personalized care and support for every patient we treat. We also understand the unique challenges that transgender individuals may face in accessing healthcare, which is why we are committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all patients, regardless of their gender identity or expression.
If you are ready to take the next step towards gender-affirming care, please contact our practice to schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you achieve the voice that best aligns with your true self.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who is a good candidate for VFSRAC?
A: Good candidates for VFS are transgender individuals who experience gender dysphoria related to their voice. Before undergoing VFS, the patient should have realistic expectations for the outcome of the procedure and be in good overall health.
Q: How long does it take to recover from VFS?
A: The length of the recovery period depends on the patient’s individual needs and the surgical approach used. In general, patients can expect to experience some discomfort and hoarseness for a few days to a few weeks after VFSROC. The surgeon may recommend voice rest and/or speech therapy to help with recovery.
Q: What are the risks and complications associated with VFSROC?
A: Like any surgical procedure, VFSROC carries some risks and potential complications, including bleeding, infection, scarring, and changes in voice quality. The surgeon will discuss the potential risks and complications with the patient before the procedure and provide detailed post-operative instructions to minimize these risks.
Q: Will my voice sound natural after VFSROC?
A: Yes! The goal of VFSROC is to create a voice that better aligns with the patient’s gender identity. The extent to which the voice sounds natural depends on several factors, including the patient’s starting vocal range and quality, the surgical approach used, and the patient’s adherence to post-operative care instructions.
The VFSRAC approach is unique in its endoscopic modification of the size, length, and thickness of male vocal folds to achieve female characteristics, without requiring any skin incision. This sets it apart from other VFS techniques, which only shorten the vocal folds without addressing thickness, size, or airflow.
By optimizing airflow and addressing all other vocal fold characteristics, including suture technique, the VFSRAC approach achieves a natural-sounding increase in pitch with minimal damage to vocal fold tissue and the larynx.
Q: How long does the VFSROC procedure take?
A: Typically takes between 1 and 3 hours, depending on the surgical approach used and the patient’s individual needs.
Q: Q: Is VFSROC covered by insurance?
A: Insurance coverage for VFSROC varies by provider and plan. Our practice works with most major insurance providers and can help you navigate the insurance process.
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