Plastic Surgery
Dr. Barry Eppley

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Double Board-Certified Plastic
Surgeon Dr. Barry Eppley

The Concepts of Facial Feminization Surgery

Facial feminization surgery (FFS) is an assortment of plastic surgery procedures that changes a genetically male face to bring its features closer in shape to that of a female. FFS is sought after largely by transsexual women and psychologically it is often more important than sex reassignment for social integration. FFS works on both the bone and the overlying soft tissues and, as a result, has much of its origins from craniomaxillofacial surgery as well as traditional cosmetic plastic surgery. For this reason, those few plastic surgeons who perform FFS usually have such backgrounds.

 I like to think of FFS as three potential zones of change… upper, middle, and lower face. Within these zones, the primary plastic surgery procedures include frontal hairline alteration/brow lift, forehead/brow recontouring, rhinoplasty, cheek/submalar augmentation, upper lip enhancement, jaw/chin modification, and thyroid cartilage reduction. To no surprise, many of these changes deal with facial prominences ….lessening the amount of bony and cartilage convexities. Each patient usually has one primary zone for change and two others for some modification. In essence, every patient has at least one dominant facial feature which must be changed onto which other procedures are complementary. While it is true that it takes many changes to create a  more convincing change of appearance, one or two of the procedures usually has a dominant effect.

FFS, philosophically, consists of a combination of reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgery procedures. Changing the bony prominences, or changing the skeletal foundation of the face, is based more on the reconstructive heritage of the procedures. Modifying or lifting of soft tissues of the face encompasses more standard cosmetic procedures used for a primary anti-aging or more youthful effect.

Every FFS procedure has differing levels of difficulty and degrees of change. Some are easy to go through, while others are more extensive with prolonged swelling and social recovery. The procedures of tracheal shave, upper lip lift and cheek implants are very effective and relatively simple with little downside or complications. More difficult procedures are forehead contouring and brow reduction and the alteration of the chin and jawline. These have issues of surgical access and bone manipulation, of which makes for more swelling. Rhinoplasty and standard plastic surgery procedures such as facelift, blepharoplasty or browlift, falls between the two with a few weeks of relatively easy recovery.

The key to a successful FFS outcome is to plan a combination of facial procedures that can most effectively soften one’s appearance and make for a convincing change. There is no one standard set of procedures that will work for every patient. While some patients need just three or four, others may benefit by twice that many. Most patients have a good feel for what they think will be effective and a careful discussion and computer imaging is essential to create a reasonable working list of procedures. While some patients may want the most change possible by number of procedures, it is important to have a realistic outcome and work within one’s budget for maximal facial change.

Dr. Barry Eppley
Indianapolis, Indiana


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Dr. Barry EppleyDr. Barry Eppley

Dr. Barry Eppley is an extensively trained plastic and cosmetic surgeon with more than 20 years of surgical experience. He is both a licensed physician and dentist as well as double board-certified in both Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. This training allows him to perform the most complex surgical procedures from cosmetic changes to the face and body to craniofacial surgery. Dr. Eppley has made extensive contributions to plastic surgery starting with the development of several advanced surgical techniques. He is a revered author, lecturer and educator in the field of plastic and cosmetic surgery.

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