Gender Reassignment Surgery Cost, Insurance and Financing Options
Transitioning involves several distinct procedures — how much gender reassignment surgery costs will depend on what you decide to have done.
Gender reassignment surgery goes by many names: sex reassignment surgery, gender confirmation surgery or sex change operation. But whatever you call it, it can be wildly expensive.
Still, for someone with gender dysphoria, it is an absolute must if they want to lead a normal life. Many transgender people feel trapped between finally realizing their true selves and not burying themselves in debt.
Thankfully, with new payment plans and more and more health insurance companies viewing the procedure as medically necessary, there are a growing number of financial support and transition funding options for transgender individuals looking to commit to permanent changes.
What Gender Reassignment Surgery Entails
The question of how much gender reassignment surgery costs is a complicated one. For one thing, gender reassignment surgery is not a single, clearly defined plastic surgery. Transitioning can involve several distinct procedures — how much your surgery costs depends on what you decide to have done. The difference could mean tens of thousands of dollars.
Gender reassignment surgery can be broken down into four main categories: the face, the chest, the body and the genitalia.
- The face alone could involve a dozen surgeries, including rhinoplasty, cheek augmentation, and upper lip reduction or enhancement. Facial feminization or masculinization surgery is quite possibly the most widely variable of all the categories in terms of cost. Furthermore, whether you opt for work on your brow, cheeks, chin, nose or neck depends on your baseline features.
- The chest is a little more clearly defined. Men transitioning to women will likely get a breast augmentation, while women transitioning to men will get a mastectomy (breast removal). Either surgery may be accompanied by nipple adjustments.
- The body may involve buttock and hip surgeries to make the waistline more masculine or feminine. It may also involve surgeries less essential to gender reassignment, such as liposuction.
- The genitalia is the most complex and, for many, an essential aspect of gender reassignment surgery. Genital surgery involves fashioning the genitalia for the target gender out of existing tissue and tissue grafted from other parts of the body. The process involves some key changes and, sometimes, some à la carte additions, making it almost as variable as facial surgery in terms of cost.
Gender Reassignment Surgery Costs
Here we hit another roadblock to understanding gender reassignment surgery costs: medical facilities rarely make their prices known to the general public. Plastic surgeons specializing in gender reassignment usually request that prospective patients schedule a consultation, during which they can discuss costs on a case-by-case basis.
To make matters worse, many news sources quote overall costs that do not reflect individual needs. For instance, CNN recently reported that individuals could expect to pay as much as or more than $100,000 in total costs. Time Magazine’s website echoes this number. However, the Transgender Law Center says that a phalloplasty alone (creation of male genitalia) could cost upwards of $100,000.
Thankfully, the Philadelphia Center for Transgender Surgery (PCTS) is up front about their pricing, allowing us to more accurately predict what surgeries might cost. As you read about these prices, keep in mind that other facilities will have their own pricing standards. This is simply an example of what you might expect.
Male-to-Female (MTF) Surgery Costs
- Facial feminization: PCTS lists about a dozen facial feminization procedures. They range from $1,500 for neck liposuction to $8,000 for a facelift. The average price for a single facial surgery is $4,375.
- Breast augmentation: PCTS lists a breast augmentation at $6,500.
- Body and buttock surgery: PCTS charges $4,500 to $5,000 for a buttock augmentation, depending on the procedure type. Other body procedures range from as little as $1,000 for liposuction and $6,200 for an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck).
- Genitalia: PCTS charges $12,600 for a vaginoplasty or $3,500 for an orchiectomy (testicle removal).
Example package and costs:
Let’s say you decide to get five of the facial feminization surgeries: rhinoplasty ($5,500), mini-facelift ($5,500), upper lip reduction ($2,500) and brow lift ($4,500). That’s a total of $21000 for the face alone. Now let’s add a breast augmentation ($6,500) and a vaginoplasty ($12,600) for a grand total of $41,000. Remember that this total amount only factors in a handful of available surgeries.
Female-to-Male (FTM) Surgery Costs
- Facial masculinization: PCTS lists about ten facial masculinization procedures ranging from $1,500 for neck liposuction to $8,000 for a facelift. The average price for a single facial surgery is $4,350.
- Mastectomy: PCTS charges $4,000 – $5,500 for a mastectomy, depending on the amount of skin reduction.
- Body and buttock surgery: PCTS lists abdominoplasties at $6,200 or liposuction from $1,000 – $1,500. They don’t specifically recommend buttock surgery for transitioning males.
- Genitalia: PCTS charges $8,500 for a phalloplasty with a half dozen or so add-ons, ranging from $1,500 for testicular implants to $7,200 for a hydraulic penile implant that simulates an erection.
Example package and costs:
Let’s say you decide to get four of the facial masculinization surgeries: rhinoplasty ($4,500), chin augmentation ($2,500), forehead lift ($4,500), and cheek augmentation ($3,500). That comes to a total of $15,000. Add to that a mastectomy ($5,000) and a phalloplasty ($8,500) with testicular implants ($1,500) and scrotal construction ($3,000) and you have a grand total of $33000. As with the other example, this total only factors in a handful of surgeries.
Understand that the above prices are for the surgeries alone. They do not include anesthesia or hospital stay. How much you pay for these depends on how long the procedures end up taking, any complications you might have, and how many separate times you need to be anesthetized. For this, add $10,000 – $30,000 additional dollars to the amounts quoted in the examples above.
Non-medical procedures (like Botox or laser hair removal) and hormone therapy also play a role in completing the transition from one gender to the other. Hormone therapy can cost anywhere from $25 to $200 a month. That’s between $300 and $2400 a year.
What’s more, the counseling involved in preparing for a gender transition (and required by some doctors and insurance companies), can cost between $50 and $200 a session. In short, transitioning is expensive.
If you decide to take the plunge and undergo gender reassignment surgery, make no mistake. Even with insurance and the help of loans or credit cards, you are looking at a significant financial burden. Do the research now so you know exactly how you’re going to manage that responsibility when the time comes.
Paying for Your Surgery
Gender reassignment surgery is expensive, but don’t lose hope just because you’re not walking around with a wad of hundreds in your wallet. Plenty of people who aren’t millionaires have gotten this type of surgery. There are numerous options for handling surgery payments.
- Cash or Check: If you have the means, you can always pay for your surgery the good old-fashioned way.
- Insurance: Many insurance companies now cover gender reassignment surgery. Check with your provider to learn what procedures are covered and how much of the bill you’ll be responsible for. Confirm you insurance coverage before getting surgery.
- Credit Card: Many facilities accept credit payments. One upside to this is that you can pay off the credit card in installments, spreading out some of the cost. However, if you pay by credit card, you are incurring debt and will be responsible for interest payments (which can be extensive).
- CareCredit: If you’re interested in paying with credit, consider getting this credit card specifically designed for healthcare financing. It has lower interest rates than most credit cards and offers flexible payment options.
- Loans: In the same spirit as the credit card, some people take out medical loans to pay for procedures. Consider using a company like United Medical Credit to help you get approved for enough credit to cover your costs.
Talk to your prospective surgeon about payment options. Doctors may have special deals with different organizations or offer their own affordable payment plans. If you’re insured, make sure they accept your insurance and are considered “in network.” You will also need to get information from them to fill out the insurance paperwork for approval.
Finding the Right Fit
If you’re reading this article because you’re interested in gender reassignment surgery, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed right now. There are a plethora of choices and none of them are cheap.
When you find a doctor that you like, schedule a free consultation. The surgeon will help you decide on the best procedures for your transition and walk you through the health care costs. Many surgeons also have individuals on staff to help you understand the logistics of paying for the surgery.
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