Treatment, surgery and hormone therapy for gender transition in Korea
Medical Avenue works with several specialized plastic surgery clinics as well as with the Korea University Anam Hospital, one of the first hospitals in Korea to provide gender transition treatment and guidance, to assist foreign clients looking for gender transition solutions.
Because changing your sex is a complex process, Medical Avenue only collaborates with hospitals offering a full team of specialists, including endocrinology, psychology, gynecology, urology, plastic surgery and other health professionals, to make sure your gender change procedure does not affect your physical health.
What should I consider before starting my gender transition process in Korea?
There are several steps you must do before proceeding:
- Mental health evaluation:
First, the assigned therapist has to confirm that you have gender dysphoria. Patients go through 2 to 3 appointments to evaluate their mental health and make sure they understand all the risks and limitations of gender reassignment. If necessary, the therapist can recommend additional tests.
- Physical health evaluation:
As a second step, before starting hormone therapy and doing any surgeries, it is important to have a general health checkup. Tests can include brain MRI, bone density test, blood test, hormone test, chest, abdominal, pelvic X-ray, EKG, gynecology tests and others. If there are any health issues detected, doctors can recommend getting additional treatment to avoid any side effects and adverse reactions.
- Hormone therapy:
For women making the transition to men: Doctors will recommend to take male hormones (testosterone). These hormones will help your body to look more masculine. You can notice changes in your voice, enhancement of the muscles, growth of facial and body hair and other symptoms.
For men making the transition to female: Doctors will recommend to take female hormones. Female hormones decrease the level of testosterone. Make men appear more feminine: muscle mass decreases, the amount of breast tissue increases.
The administration method of these hormones can vary. Doctors can prescribe pills, injections or IV. The doctor in charge will control the dosage and frequency of the hormones.
In Korea, doctors will ask patients to have frequent checkups to make sure they are adapting well to the therapy.
Noteworthy, hormone therapy for gender transition has side effects such as high blood pressure, liver function decrease, heart disease, blood clots and other serious health conditions. Thus, the administration and control should be done under the supervision of experienced doctors.
Additionally, some patients might feel anxiety during the therapy. In those cases, the doctor in charge can recommend counseling with a specialist.
- Gender transition surgery:
For female-to-male surgeries: Medical Avenue recommends only specialized plastic surgery clinics with high safety standards for this procedure.
- Top surgery: It includes the mastectomy, this surgery removes the breast tissues. Before the mastectomy surgery, it is recommended to have a breast ultrasound and a consultation with a specialist.
- Bottom surgery: It includes the removal of the uterus, ovaries, and fallopian tubes. It also encompasses metoidioplasty and phalloplasty (removal of vagina, lengthening the urethra, construction of the penis). Doctors make the penis using autologous skin grafts and penile implants.
- All surgeries cannot be performed at once. It usually requires 3 to 4 surgeries.
For male-to-female surgeries: Medical Avenue recommends only specialized plastic surgery clinics with high safety standards for this procedure.
- Gender confirmation surgery in Korea (GCS): It is a procedure to reconstruct the genitals. It includes several procedures to shorten urethra, create the clitoris and vagina.
- Facial feminization surgery: It helps you create softer feminine facial features. Each person has unique needs and desires, that is why each plan is customized individually. Facial feminization includes such procedures like rhinoplasty, blepharoplasty, jawline and zygoma reconstruction and other procedures.
- Breast augmentation: Even though during the hormone therapy the amount of the breast tissue increases, some patients desire a larger and fuller breast for a more feminine look.
- Body feminization surgery: It is an option for those looking to create a more feminine body shape. Rounder hips and buttocks are possible using fat grafting or implants. Liposuction at some areas such as waist and back, can help create an “hourglass” shape.
- Voice feminization (optional step for male to female gender transition):
While during female to male transition, it is possible to develop a deeper voice by taking testosterone, it is not the same the other way around. For transgender women hormone therapy doesn’t make vocal cords shorter or thinner. That is why the voice remains the same. Voice feminization surgery and therapy raises the pitch of the voice, making it sound higher and more feminine.
FAQ about gender transition in Korea
The period is different for each patient. It can take from a year to 5 years to see the maximum effect.
Consultation with each specialist: $40 to $80 USD
Tests: Blood test, ECG, X-rays $700 to $1,000 USD; Brain MRI: $900 to $1,200 USD; Bone density test: $750 – $1,000 USD
Hormone therapy $300 to $600 USD per session
Surgeries: each patient’s plan is unique. Please contact us for more information and estimation.
Some Korean doctors do speak English. However, Medical Avenue coordinators will assist you at all your appointments and tests.
After gender reassignment surgeries pregnancy is not possible.
For breast augmentation and mastectomy: 2 to 3 weeks
For facial feminization surgery (in case of bone surgeries such as V-line and zygoma reduction): 2 to 3 weeks
For minor surgeries (blepharoplasty, rhinoplasty): 7-10 days
Usually, a horizontal incision is made during mastectomy. The length of the scar depends on the size of your breast. It is recommended, 6-8 months after the surgery, to have laser scar removal procedures to reduce the appearance of the scars.
In case people change their mind, surgeries like mastectomy and breast augmentations, some plastic surgeries are considered reversible. Thus, the guidelines for these procedures are less strict. For the bottom surgeries the process is not reversible.