Hey, fam! Aaron here, your favorite Tennessee transguy, and today I want to give you the lowdown on the products that made my top surgery recovery a whole lot smoother. It’s no secret that going through this process can be tough, but fear not, because I’ve got your back and these top surgery products were key for me having a smooth recovery. So, kick back and dive into these must-have products and the advice that I’ve learned from my friends for an easier top surgery recovery.
1. Post-Surgery Binder:
Okay, let’s start with the basics. I wondered if they were going to send me home in a binder, what kind it’d be, or if I needed to buy a post-surgery binder. So my overplanning brain bought this zip-up binder just in case. And I’m glad I did. It wasn’t a necessity because they did provide me with one that I could have used beyond 7 days and it’d been just fine if I was on a stricter budget, but it wasn’t as comfortable after the first week. My surgeon told me I didn’t have to wear my binder after 7 days so that was dope. But I still wore the one I purchased for a week after that because I liked protecting the incisions and my nips as they healed. I thought I’d be using it a lot longer so ask your surgeon how long you need to wear it.
But for what I had to do post-surgery, I needed a good quality post-surgery binder to give the necessary compression and support, making me feel more comfortable during the healing process. Here’s the one I bought with me in it. I got an XL and it was tight on me so get a size up if you get this one!
2. Button-Up Shirts:
While we’re on the subject of clothing, let’s talk about soft button-up shirts. They became my go-to during recovery. Easy to put on and take off without disturbing any incisions or bandages, they made dressing up a breeze. Plus, they gave me a stylish edge and a cool dude vibe that I normally would never rock without a tee underneath. I also heard people like the zip-up hoodies but the cold zipper was sensory overloading me even though I felt badass. 🤷🏻♂️
3. U-Shaped Pillow:
You may have seen my recent viral TikTok where I share behind the scenes of my top surgery recovery and mention my “contraption” that helped me sleep. While these awesome pillows are often marketed as pregnancy pillows, this thing was essential for me to sleep post-surgery. The first week I slept on the couch with the foot recliner up. After that, I took this bad boy and headed back to my bed with my wife. I’m a stomach sleeper so I was nervous about this stage since I’m a brat when I’m tired. BUT! THIS PILLOW THOUGH. It not only keeps your head elevated, but it also supports your elbows snug at your sides so when you try to roll over it’ll stop you because of the giant hump. I also put a pillow under the head portion to keep my shoulders elevated for fluid to absorb evenly like my surgeon said.
4. Scar Care Products:
Embracing and taking care of your scars is an important part of the healing journey. Scar care products like silicone sheets, gels, or creams can help minimize their appearance and promote healing. Regular application of these products became a soothing ritual and made me feel like I was taking an active role in my recovery. I specifically am using this Mederma on my scars and salve on my nipples.
You can also use scar strips that hold both sides of your scars together to avoid scar stretching. Check those out for extra precaution too!
5. Gauze & Vaseline:
I don’t remember how I justified not bringing these on my trip, but it was a mistake and cost a trip of its own to the nearest Dollar General. My surgeon had me change my gauze every night in the first week of top surgery. After a week and getting my bolsters removed, light Vaseline was required around the edges of my nipples to keep them moisturized. So put the gauze and Vaseline in your cart for sure.
6. Neck Pillow:
Who knew a simple neck pillow could be a total game-changer during top surgery recovery? Trust me, it’s a true buddy. Whether you’re resting in bed or traveling, this little gem provides that extra support and comfort you need, especially when sleeping or sitting upright. Plus you can use ones like these after surgery so it’s a win-win.
7. Dry Shampoo:
Let’s face it, washing your hair can be a challenge during recovery. That’s where dry shampoo swoops in to save the day. It keeps your hair looking fresh and smelling great without the hassle of a full-on wash. If you are blessed with someone to help you wash your hair after surgery like my wife did for me you may not need this step. But not a requirement if you’re on your own either! Just might feel grimy for the week.
8. Reacher/Grabber Tool
While these grabber tools may not seem like a big deal, they are key for daily things you take advantage of when you have your elbows glued to your sides. It’s HARD to reach anything. So this helps you reach high for a snack or low when you drop things. Not a requirement obviously, but helpful if you have limited support at home post-surgery. Other family members will use it too after your top surgery to reach things too!
Also, consider what my friend Beau suggested which is a bidet. I know. You’re thinking a lot of jokes and “that’d be ridiculous and hard to install.” He convinced me otherwise and while I didn’t install mine in time for me to use with my top-surgery products, he swore by it!
9. Ice Packs or Cold Compresses:
Before you go icing AT ALL, make sure your doctor says you can. I bought this mastectomy recovery pillow that has so many dope features like an ice pack slot, phone holder, and cushions but couldn’t use it – my aftercare instructions said no. So double-check that! But if you can: say hello to your new best friend in ice packs or cold compresses. These cool heroes work wonders in reducing swelling and soothing any discomfort. Just pop ’em in the freezer and apply them to your chest whenever needed. A chilled buddy when you need it the most. On a strict budget? You can also use a bag of frozen veggies!
10. Easy-to-Prepare Meals and Snacks:
Recovery can zap your energy, so having a stash of easy-to-prepare meals and snacks is a lifesaver. Stock up on frozen meals, pre-cut fruits, protein bars, and other nutritious goodies. They’ll keep you fueled and nourished without requiring too much effort or having to ask someone to get you something cooking in the kitchen. Plus, you’ll likely only be hungry for your favorites at first.
11. Entertainment Galore:
During recovery, your couch might become your new hangout spot. So, make sure you have plenty of entertainment options on hand. Binge-worthy TV shows, my phone, and video games became my trusty companions. They kept me entertained, distracted and helped me pass the time like a breeze. I even got the OG Krash Bandicoot PlayStation 1 game and it was the perfect self-care nostalgia I needed – especially since it was compatible with my big ole PS3.
While they may not make things you put in your bag, it’s important to bring:
Supportive Friends and Family:
We can’t forget about the importance of a solid support system. At minimum, you’ll need someone to sign you out and drive you home since it’s not safe to drive because of the anesthesia. Having someone to help you adjust sitting up and repositioning in the first few days was so helpful. Having understanding and supportive friends or family to message when you need some help is key too. They’ll lift your spirits, lend a helping hand, and provide the emotional support you need throughout your recovery journey. If you don’t have one, check out my Facebook group the Lone Wolf District where trans* people like us can feel less alone and win free gender-affirming gear.
Lastly, while the power of a positive mindset shouldn’t be underestimated, it always is. The first week can be really frustrating on the brain to have to be so restricted in movement and activity especially if you’re fidgety like me. People can be surprised by the sadness you may feel in the first week from the frustration but please remind yourself that you’re taking an important step toward your authentic self. Celebrate each milestone whether it be every 4 hours or day-by-day, be patient with yourself, and surround yourself with positivity. You’re stronger than you know and you’re ALMOST THERE! After 2 weeks, you’ll be in a new stage of healing and will feel a lot different.
All in all my friends, these are the products that made my top surgery recovery journey a breeze. From the trusty post-surgery binder to scar care products, neck pillows, and ice packs, each item played a role in my easier recovery process. Remember, though, every journey is unique, so always consult with your healthcare provider and follow their guidance.
Rest up, take care of yourself, and know that you’ve got a brother here cheering you on every step of the way. Together, we’ll conquer the top surgery recovery stage like champs. I wish you health and genuine happiness.
Stay awesome, stay true, and keep rocking to your own tune!