Voice changing surgery is a procedure that alters the patient’s voice to a higher or lower pitch by physically altering the voice box and vocal cords.
In Thailand, this is typically performed for transgender individuals so they can have a voice that closely resembles the gender that they identify with. For example, in voice feminization surgery, both the patient’s voice box and vocal cords are made to be smaller and shorter to give rise to a higher, more feminine-sounding voice. You can check the video below to get a clearer picture of the ‘before’ and ‘after’.
The goal of voice changing surgery is to help transgender individual to get a voice that closely resembles the gender that they identify with.
Transgender men can achieve a lower pitch through hormone therapy. In the case of transgender women however, a physical change needs to occur to achieve a higher pitch speaking voice.
There can be a lot of personal reasons why a transgender person would want their voice to match the gender they identify with and how they outwardly express themselves.
Among the many reasons is to lessen the stress and effects of gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is the discomfort usually experienced by people whose biological sex differs from their gender identity.
$3,500 to $7,400
The two most common options for voice feminization surgery are the Anterior Glottal Web Formation and the Cricothyroid Approximation.
The Anterior Glottal Web Formation involves creating or inducing an anterior glottic web, which is a scar band at the front of the larynx. This scar band causes the vocal cords to be shortened and the airway to be narrowed, thus raising the pitch of one’s speaking voice. In the process though, this kind of surgery limits one’s vocal range by hindering the creation of lower-pitched sounds.
The Cricothyroid Approximation (CTA) essentially attaches the cricoid cartilage and the thyroid cartilage to each other. Both are parts of a muscle called the cricothyroid, which is responsible for tension that lengthens the vocal cord. This lengthening then triggers the vocal register of “falsetto”. CTA is a way to achieve a sort of permanent falsetto speaking voice, though some recent research studies have shown that this effect doesn’t necessarily last for long.
You will need to meet with a doctor prior to undergoing the procedure so your medical history can be discussed at length. They will also perform a procedure called a laryngoscopy where a tiny telescope is inserted into your nostrils and down your throat to get a view of your larynx. This will allow the doctor to examine the state of your vocal cords and the areas that could be affected by the surgery.
You will experience some difficulty in speaking and swallowing after the surgery. The vocal cords will be sensitive and inflamed for a time. It’s akin to having a sore throat. Your voice will sound strained as well.
It’s imperative to completely and totally rest your voice. This means refraining from talking, whispering, or making any sound vocally for up to a week. This is to prevent the stress of talking to cause any of the sutures to be undone.
Strenuous physical activities like weightlifting should be avoided for at least one month, while lighter aerobic exercises can be performed after two weeks.
Voice Changing Surgery Before and After Review:
We understand you may want to change your plans due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its health implications.
There are no risk-free surgeries, and that being said, infection and bleeding are both possible. Since the surgery will require anesthesia, there is also a chance of having a bad reaction to it. Lastly, the results can go the other way which has the patient ending up with a weak voice.
How will the post-op period be for me?
The surgery site will be quite sensitive and you might experience some pain and tightness causing difficulties in using your voice and swallowing. Similar to having a sore throat. In order to recover better, it’s absolutely important to not use your voice for seven days.
Will my voice be totally lady-like?
The surgery will adjust the pitch of your speaking voice so that it’s naturally higher without effort. The results are best when combined with actual speech training to address other factors that are involved in having a more feminine-sounding voice. This includes things like volume and intonation.
Will my scar show?
This can depend on your skin’s condition and proneness to scarring. If you are aware of being more prone to developing scars or have had keloid scars (scars that are raised above the skin), it’s important to think through the decision and accept that the chances of scarring are probably high. However, the incision itself is actually along an area on the neck that isn’t as obvious (where natural skin folds are present).
What are the risks of this surgery?
Every surgery carries a certain amount of risks. Bleeding and nerve damage can occur during the surgery itself, as well as an adverse reaction to the anesthesia used. Post-op, it’s possible to deal with a longer than expected recovery time, and unwanted scarring. As for the voice quality itself, there are extra preventative measures taken during the surgery in order to minimize the chances of hoarseness.
How do I prepare for surgery?
First off, it’s important to be completely free of upper respiratory diseases like a cold, the flu, sore throat, and the like. It’s best to postpone the surgery when you’re sick in order to avoid any risk of complications.
If you’re a smoker, it’s important to avoid it for the two weeks leading up to the procedure. Other things to avoid in the two weeks leading up to it include drinking alcohol, taking herbal supplements, and other medications that are not approved by your doctor. Please consult your doctor for more information.