10 Tips For Having Gender Affirming Surgery Abroad

10 Tips For Having Gender Affirming Surgery Abroad

As options for gender affirming surgery become more and more limited in the UK, it’s no wonder more of us are travelling to find it. Choosing to have surgery abroad can be a cost-effective and convenient option, but it requires careful planning and preparation.

Here are ten tips to ensure your experience is as smooth and safe as possible:

1. Check Local Laws and Regulations for LGBTQ+ Individuals
Before you decide on a destination, research the local laws and societal attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people. In some countries, being visibly queer can affect the quality your stay, whether that’s medical care, finding accommodation, or eve travelling. Ensure that you will be respected and protected while you’re away.

2. Learn Key Medical Phrases
Language barriers can be a significant challenge. Learn essential words and phrases in the local language such as "pain," "here," "nauseous," "help," and "blood." This can be crucial in communicating your needs effectively to medical staff when you’re in the moment.

3. Communicate Your Medical History
Inform your medical team about any specific reactions to anaesthesia or other medications. For example, if you know you get nauseous after anaesthesia, make sure they are aware beforehand to manage your post-operative care better.

4. Research and Reviews
Watch reviews of the hospital and surgeons you are considering. Where possible, talk to people who have undergone similar procedures in the same facility. Personal recommendations and reviews can provide valuable insights into the quality of care.

5. Stay Near the Hospital
Choose accommodation closer to the hospital rather than the airport. This minimises travel time immediately after surgery and makes it easier to attend follow-up appointments or address any post-operative complications.

6. Arrange Airport Accessibility
Don’t underestimate how lethargic and weak you’ll feel after surgery. Arrange for accessibility services at both your departure and arrival airports, and if you’re taking long distance trains or busses. This should be done way in advance of your travel to ensure you get the necessary assistance.

7. Download a Translation App
A good translation app like Google Translate can be incredibly helpful. Ensure it has text-to-speech and speech-to-text capabilities to facilitate better communication with your medical team and caregivers.

8. Get Comprehensive Medical Insurance
Ensure you have medical insurance that covers surgery abroad. This should include coverage for potential complications, emergency evacuations, and post-operative care. Check the policy details carefully. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

9. Clarify Pre-Op and Post-Op Expectations
Understand and adhere to all pre-operative and post-operative instructions provided by your medical team. For instance, you might need to get waxed, stop smoking, or follow specific dietary restrictions before surgery. Being clear on these requirements can prevent complications.

10. Prepare for Emergencies
Have a backup plan for emergencies. This includes knowing the location of the nearest embassy or consulate, having a list of emergency contacts, and knowing the procedure for seeking emergency medical help locally.

11. Bring a Care Companion
Having someone with you who can assist with your care post-surgery is invaluable. They can help with mobility, communication, and ensure you follow medical advice correctly.

12. Arrange Post-Operative Care at Home
Plan for at least two weeks of care once you return home. This can include professional nursing services, meal preparation, and assistance with daily activities to ensure a smooth recovery.

Bonus Tip: Use a Checklist
I’ve created a comprehensive checklist with all the information and steps you might need to take. You can download my free, customisable checklist to ensure you don’t miss any critical steps in your planning and preparation.

Good luck if you’re planning your next surgery, I hope it goes well, and remember to be extra kind to yourself!
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