Transgender Surgery: How to Prepare

Transgender surgery, also known as gender affirmation surgery or gender confirmation surgery, requires many preparation steps. The preparation process will depend on the type of transgender surgery procedure you are having and your overall health. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions to get ready.

Patient sitting on a hospital bed

Ljupco / Getty Images

Location 

Usually, transgender surgeries are done in hospitals or surgical centers because the procedures are too complex for an outpatient center. Most procedures require you to stay at least overnight for monitoring. You may need to stay in the hospital longer depending on the type of procedure you have and the outcomes. 

The following types of transgender surgeries usually require hospital stays:

  • Facial feminization surgery to make masculine facial features more feminine
  • Facial masculinization surgery to make feminine facial features more masculine
  • Transfeminine top surgery to change and enhance the breasts to make the chest look more feminine
  • Transfeminine bottom surgery to remove male genitalia and reconstruct them into female genitalia
  • Transmasculine top surgery to remove the breasts and make the chest look more masculine
  • Transmasculine bottom surgery to change the female genitalia into male genitalia

What to Wear

Since you will be going to the hospital for the surgery, you want to wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that are easy to remove. You will change into a hospital gown once you arrive and are in the preoperative room. 

Avoid wearing: 

  • Makeup 
  • Jewelry
  • Perfumes
  • Lotions 
  • Nail polish 
  • Hairspray 
  • Valuables 

You may be in the hospital for several days, so you should bring a change of clothing and something you can wear home. Your surgeons will provide specific instructions on clothing if necessary for your procedure. 

Food and Drink 


You will receive specific information about food and drink restrictions before surgery. You may not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before your surgery. You may need to be on a clear liquid diet before surgery. 

Medications


Your doctors may prescribe specific medications to prepare for the surgery. They may also change, adjust, or stop some medications before surgery. 

You may need to do the following before surgery: 

  • Take bowel cleansing preparation drinks. 
  • Stop estrogen therapy. 
  • Stop taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Stop taking blood-thinning medications. 

Tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking to avoid possible complications. This includes supplements, prescriptions, and over-the-counter drugs. 

What to Bring

Your surgical team will let you know what to bring to prepare for the procedure. In general, you will need:

  • Driver's license or identification card 
  • Health insurance card and information
  • List of all your medications  
  • Change of clothes
  • Personal toiletries
  • Contact information for family, friends, and loved ones 

Talk to your surgeons and discuss any arrangements you need to make before the procedure. You will not be able to drive yourself home, so you should arrange for someone to drive you after you are released from the hospital. 

Other arrangements you may need to make to prepare for coming home after the surgery:

  • Help with household chores and cooking after you return home
  • Picking up medications 
  • Transportation to follow-up appointments with your medical team
  • Ongoing counseling or therapy 

Pre-Op Lifestyle Changes


You may need to make some lifestyle changes before having transgender surgery. Your surgical team will discuss them in detail.

Hair Removal 

You may need permanent hair removal for some procedures like transfeminine or transmasculine bottom surgery. You can have either electrolysis or laser hair removal. Hair removal is necessary to prevent hair from growing in certain places that may be affected by the surgery. 

Smoking Cessation 

You will likely need to stop smoking before surgery to lower the risk of having blood clots and other complications such as poor wound healing. You may also need to stop using all nicotine products, including:

  • Cigarettes
  • Cigars
  • Vaping
  • Chewing tobacco
  • Nicotine patches  

A Word From Verywell

Preparing for transgender surgery requires time and effort, as well as mental fortitude. It can be a long process getting to surgery, so you should be mentally and physically ready for this. Your surgical team will discuss in detail what you need to do prior to surgery, and you can ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable. 

Before your surgery, you should feel completely prepared and have all your arrangements in place. This is a good time to reach out to friends, family, and loved ones for help and support. They should be aware of the preparations you need to make and participate in the process. 

Was this page helpful?
2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Schechter LS. Gender confirmation surgery: an update for the primary care provider. Transgend Health. 2016;1(1):32-40. doi:10.1089/trgh.2015.0006

  2. Cleveland Clinic. Gender affirmation (confirmation) or sex reassignment surgery. Updated May 3, 2021.