When facial feminization surgery is being performed, a tracheal shave is often a popular choice for trans women and non-binary trans patients looking to gain a more feminine appearance to the face. The procedure is often called “Adam’s apple reduction surgery” but it also known as chondrolaryngoplasty. Since a large Adam’s apple is generally known as a secondary sex characteristic for males, let’s take an in-depth look at how a tracheal shave benefits patients wanting a more feminine look.
A tracheal shave procedure is performed to reduce the size of the laryngeal prominence which is located on the top of the thyroid gland found in the middle of the throat. This laryngeal prominence is most commonly referred to as an Adam’s apple.
During a tracheal shave, the surgeon removes a designated amount of thyroid cartilage (that protects the vocal cords form suffering any damage) from the front area of the larynx.
If a person is assigned the male gender at birth, hormones such as testosterone work to grow both the volume and size of the larynx during the period of puberty experienced by the person. The length of the vocal cords can also grow during this period. These changes work to make the voice deeper along with forming a prominent bump in the front area of the throat.
People that are assigned the female gender at birth normally do not gain this bump in the front area of the throat during puberty. This is why the removal of the bump makes the face of a person acquire a more feminine look.
There are other cosmetic procedures that can be performed at the same time as a tracheal shave in order to give the face a more feminine appearance. Some of these procedures include jaw reduction, cheek augmentation, chin reduction and forehead contouring.
The surgeon makes a horizontal incision under the jaw or chin. This small incision is placed in a crease of the skin so there will not be a visible scar at a later date. The doctor will then begin to remove the desired amount of thyroid cartilage by “shaving it down”. It is imperative that the surgeon does not touch the vocal cords so they are not damaged. Once the surgeon has completed the desired task, the incision is closed using sutures.
The procedure can typically be performed in an hour (or less).
Some of the most common side effects include:
Once the initial amount of swelling subsides, the results of the procedure should be apparent almost immediately. The patient can expect to see a smooth look to the treated area and an Adam’s apple that is smaller and less noticeable to the point that it can be considered to be non-existent.
Patients should know that a rather large Adam’s apple cannot be completely removed and there might be some issues with providing a significant reduction in its appearance. The surgeon should set realistic expectations at the start of the surgery so the patient will know what to expect.
The final results will not see a change in the vocal pitch of a person. Patients that want to gain a high-sounding voice need to discuss voice cord surgery with the doctor of choice.
Tracheal shave surgery is normally considered to be a cosmetic surgery which means it is an elective surgery that is not deemed to be medically necessary. Because of the elective nature of the procedure, it is often not covered by health insurance so patients will need to pay for the cost of the surgery on their own.
The first step in the tracheal shave process is finding a surgeon that the patient is comfortable with and also has a good amount of experience in performing the treatment. Patients need to do proper research to find the right surgeon for their individual needs and that they feel comfortable with discussing the desired changes along with their reasons for wanting to undergo the surgery.
Once a person chooses a surgeon, it is time to schedule a consultation appointment with the doctor. This is the opportunity for the patient to learn more about the experience level of the surgeon and how often the doctor performs tracheal shaves on patients. The patient also has the opportunity to ask in-depth questions about pre-op and post-op preparation and all of the factors that go into the cost of the surgery.
It is also important for the patient to make sure that the desired results can be achieved so the person is not surprised or disappointed by the type of results that will be visible after the surgery. The greater the amount of information obtained in advance by the patient, the better prepared the person will be to undergo a tracheal shave procedure.