Top surgery: what to expect

Written by: Mr Christopher Inglefield
Published: | Updated: 26/11/2021
Edited by: Top Doctors®

If you’re undergoing a female-to-male (FtM) transition, one of the most popular surgical procedures available is top surgery. Since many patients wonder what to expect from the procedure, we spoke to one of London’s leading plastic surgeons Mr Christopher Inglefield about what top surgery involves.





What is top surgery?


Top surgery is a surgical procedure that aims to remove the female breasts and achieve a natural male breast shape. It is also known as a subcutaneous mastectomy. It is a common procedure for patients undergoing a female-to-male (FtM) transition. Getting top surgery can make you feel more self-confident, enabling you to wear the clothes of your choice without the need for a chest binder.


Top surgery is a permanent procedure, so it is important that you take the time to fully consider whether this procedure is right for you.



What does the procedure involve?


Top surgery involves:

  • removing breast tissue
  • reshaping the chest to a natural male appearance
  • reducing and repositioning the nipple and areola to a proportionate male nipple size and shape.


Top surgery generally takes 1-2 hours to perform. The length of the procedure varies depending on your size and shape, as do the techniques involved. Top surgery is commonly performed under general anaesthetic, but some patients may be suitable for local anaesthetic, meaning you’ll be able to go home on the day of the procedure.


If you are over the age of 40, you will have a screening mammogram before any removal of breast tissue. This can be arranged for you at the time of your consultation.



What are the risks?


All operations carry out risks, but top surgery is very safe. The main risks are:

  • bleeding under the skin
  • infection
  • poor nipple healing
  • loss of nipple sensation
  • deep vein thrombosis
  • chest asymmetry


Many of these risks can be managed with revision surgery.



What is recovery like?


After the operation, you’re likely to experience moderate pain for a few days, as well as swelling for up to 2-3 weeks. For the first few weeks, you’ll need to wear a support garment.


After two weeks you should be able to return to normal activities. However, be sure to avoid heavy exercise for six weeks.


You will have scars after the operation, but these should be small and barely visible. They will be situated around the nipple and the pectoral muscle. Some clinics will offer extensive scar care for up to a year after the operation to make sure they heal as well as possible.



If you’d like to book a consultation with Mr Christopher Inglefield about top surgery, you can do so by visiting his Top Doctors profile.

By Mr Christopher Inglefield
Plastic surgery

Mr Christopher Inglefield is one of London's leading plastic surgeons. As a highly experienced consultant plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgeon, Mr Inglefield has performed thousands of procedures.

Throughout his career, Mr Inglefield has gained vast experience in a wide range of specialities, with areas of specialist interest including gender confirmation surgery, facial feminisation surgery, body feminisation surgery, masculinisation surgery and male chest reduction, breast surgery, breast implants and reconstruction, hair line lowering, eye bag surgery and facial rejuvenation, rhinoplasty and non-surgical nose job, labia reduction and labiaplasty. Furthermore, he embraces the latest technological and surgical developments to ensure that the service he offers to his patients is constantly evolving.

Mr Inglefield was born in Trinidad, West Indies, and obtained his medical degree from the University of the West Indies in Jamaica and Trinidad in 1985. After attaining his degree, he went on to complete his specialist surgical training in the UK, passing the examinations to become a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England in 1990. Soon after, he became passionate about plastic surgery and after six years of developing his specialist skills, he passed the intercollegiate specialist examination (in plastic surgery) and was awarded the FRCS(Plast) in 1997. This confirmed his expertise in all aspects of plastic, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery and he was added to the UK GMC specialist register.

He regularly attends national and international conferences and workshops as an attendee and invited speaker. What's more, he has also written several papers and contributed to many specialist books and journals within the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery. He is a member of the UK Association of Aesthetic Surgeons, World Professional Association for Transgender Health, British Burn Association, the British Microsurgical Society, the British Association of Surgical Oncology and the Royal Society of Medicine - Plastic Surgery.

Mr Inglefield has appeared on numerous occasions for television and radio programmes including Botched Up Bodies, BodyShockers, Radio 5 Live, NBC and Granada. In addition, he has been interviewed and quoted a number of times in national newspapers and magazines, such as The Sunday Mirror, The Sunday Times, The Financial Times, The Daily Mail and Marie Claire, Harpers Bazaar, among others. In 2012, Mr Inglefield was accredited with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Aesthetic Awards for his work and dedication to innovation within the field. He is admired by both his peers, as well as his patients.

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