Top surgery, or chest reconstruction surgery, is a common procedure sought by transgender men (FTM) and some non-binary individuals. In the UK, top surgery is typically accessed via a Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) through the National Health Service (NHS). Here’s a simplified overview of the process:

  1. Referral: You will need a referral to a GIC from your GP. After the referral, there is often a long waiting period before the first appointment due to high demand.
  2. Assessment: You’ll meet with mental health professionals at the GIC who will assess your needs and goals. This typically requires several appointments over a period of time.
  3. Hormone Therapy: Although not always a prerequisite for top surgery, many individuals choose to start hormone replacement therapy (testosterone) before having surgery.
  4. Real-Life Experience: The NHS generally requires you to live in your identified gender for a certain period before approving surgeries.
  5. Surgery Approval: If the clinicians at the GIC agree that top surgery is appropriate for you, they will refer you for surgery. There may be another waiting period at this stage.
  6. Surgery: The surgery itself usually involves removing breast tissue and reshaping the chest to a more typically male appearance. This can be done through various techniques depending on factors like the size and shape of the original breasts. The surgery usually involves a general anesthetic and a hospital stay.
  7. Recovery: Recovery from top surgery varies, but most people can expect to take several weeks to recover. There will be post-surgery appointments to remove drains and check the healing process.

The NHS covers the cost of top surgery for those who are approved, but due to high demand, waiting times can be long. Some people choose to access top surgery privately to avoid the wait, but costs can be significant.

Accessing trans healthcare can be a complex process, and it’s important to find supportive healthcare providers who can guide you through the process. Local LGBTQ+ organizations can often provide resources and support as well.