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Female-to-Male Transgender Chest Contouring

A Systematic Review of Outcomes and Knowledge Gaps

Cohen, Wess A. MD; Shah, Nikhil R. BA; Iwanicki, Margaret MD; Therattil, Paul J. MD; Keith, Jonathan D. MD, FACS

doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000001896
Review Paper

Purpose The number of gender affirmation surgeries performed in the United States is increasing. Frequently, chest contouring is the first surgery for female-to-male transgender patients; it fosters assimilation into the new gender role with a desired sense of masculinity. Creating an aesthetic male chest requires adjustment of breast tissue volume, proper nipple-areolar complex placement, and abolishment of the inframammary fold. Although much has been published on various techniques and outcomes, there is no consensus on how to approach transmale top surgery. We have reviewed the most up-to-date literature and in so doing have uncovered significant knowledge gaps.

Methods An electronic literature review was performed. PubMed search keywords included combinations of “female-to-male,” “transgender surgery,” “chest contour,” and “nipple-areolar complex.” Articles were included if the patients were transgender female to male.

Results Our literature search yielded 67 unique articles, 22 of which met our inclusion criteria. A total of 2447 unique patients were analyzed. The articles discussed aspects of chest surgery in female-to-male transsexuals including mastectomy and nipple aesthetics. Relevant data trends were extracted and subsequently investigated.

Discussion Female-to-male transgender patients often undergo chest contouring as their initial gender affirmation surgery. As the surgical treatment of gender dysphoria continues to grow, it is imperative for plastic surgeons to understand the surgical options and associated outcomes for transmasculine top surgery. Future research is needed to improve patient selection, surgical decision making, and patient-reported outcomes for different chest contouring techniques. In addition, there is a significant knowledge gap for the ideal nipple-areolar complex shape, size, and location.

From the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, NJ.

Received September 25, 2018, and accepted for publication, after revision January 21, 2019.

Conflict of interest and sources of funding: none declared.

Reprints: Jonathan D. Keith, MD, FACS, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, 140 Bergen St, Newark, NJ 07103. E-mail:

Online date: May 10, 2019

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