Preparing for gender-affirming surgery

Gender-affirming surgery involves additional planning, and we encourage you to think ahead in your surgical journey. The following are general considerations to plan for as you prepare for surgery. During your consultations with our team, we may provide alternate directions or recommendations based on your specific surgery and needs.

Travel and Accommodation

All surgeries take place at either Vancouver General Hospital or the University of British Columbia Hospital, both located in Vancouver. All clinic visits will be at the Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre at the VGH Campus. Telehealth and zoom are available when appropriate, but in-person visits will be required both pre and post-surgery so a clinician can complete a full assessment.

We require you to stay close by for one to two days before surgery. The length of time we require you to stay close by after surgery depends on the surgery you received:

  • For vaginoplasty, the hospital stay will be approximately seven days, and we ask that you stay close by for an additional two weeks after hospital discharge.
  • For phalloplasty, the hospital stay will be approximately seven days, we ask that you stay close by for an additional six weeks after hospital discharge.
  • For metoidioplasty and vulvoplasty, the hospital stay will be approximately three to five days, and we ask that you stay close by for an additional week after hospital discharge.

Patients are responsible for finding accommodations after surgery. We suggest thinking ahead to ask close friends or family you could stay with or budgeting for accommodations. We recognize that it may be difficult to plan and finance accommodation and travel. We can help and make recommendations for finding potential reduced-cost options for your stay. You may also be eligible for reduced-cost travel supports. While we will do our best to support you in this process, it is very helpful for you to plan as much as possible in advance.

When planning for your stay, it is important to note that we require having a supportive person, such as a partner or family member, to stay with or near you in Vancouver. This person must be able to provide in-person physical and emotional support to you. It is helpful to begin to think of friends, family, or partners who could provide this support to you. 

Financial Planning

While the surgical procedure and all appointments, including pelvic floor physiotherapy, are covered by MSP, we do not have funding for your travel, accommodations, or supplies that you will need (dilators are covered for vaginoplasty patients). Depending on your surgery type, you may be responsible for purchasing items such as lubrication and pads.

We also ask that you consider that you will miss some time from work while recovering from surgery.

  • Vaginoplasty patients are typically off of work for at least 8 weeks
  • Phalloplasty patients are typically off of work for at least 12 weeks
  • Metoidioplasty and vulvoplasty patients are typically off of work for at least 6 weeks

We suggest you consider these estimates in your financial planning for your surgery. The exact timelines of return to work will depend on the type of work you do (labour vs desk-based) and your healing. It is helpful to begin planning for this as early as possible. This can include budgeting and saving up to be comfortable while off work or researching if you are eligible for employment insurance or private medical leave. Once you are placed on our surgically ready waitlist, our clinic social worker will be available to provide support if you are having difficulty navigating financial planning and finding proper resources.

Social Support

Having both emotional and physical support around the time of surgery is essential. You will require physical support while you recover for support with housework, grocery shopping, and travelling to appointments. As mentioned previously, we ask that one of your support persons join you for your stay in Vancouver. It is also essential to consider who in your network can provide mental and emotional support during your surgical journey. This could include a network of friends, family, partners, counsellors, therapists, or any other trusted person who provides you with regular support.