If a picture’s worth a thousand words, how much is Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover worth?
In terms of inspiring social change, it’s hard to say. Seeing an Olympic athlete and reality TV superstar embrace her real self has already changed the conversation about identity. But what’s the cost in financial terms?
Every journey is different — a truth that applies to all surgeries but particularly those for men and women transitioning genders. No one treatment defines the process. For transgender women, the list of available cosmetic surgical options runs the gamut from getting breast implants, often called top surgery, to altering the angle of the lips to the nose. It all depends on what a woman wants to feel most herself.
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When it comes to making the face more feminine, doctors use a series of procedures called facial feminization surgery (FFS). For FFS, even the smallest of changes make a major impact, said RealSelf Top Doctor Jeffrey H. Spiegel.
“How do you determine a man from a woman? What are their features? If you see a man wearing lipstick, you don’t think it’s a woman. If you see a woman with no hair, you don’t think it’s a man. So it’s not superficialities,” Dr. Spiegel said.
Rather, how we perceive a man or woman is the sum of many different facial cues, be it the shape of the head to the contour of the brow. “There’s much more that goes into it than may seem obvious,” said Dr. Spiegel, who’s worked with more than 1,000 transgender men and women.
What many applauding Jenner’s transformation may not realize, however, is just how much these elective cosmetic procedures cost. Using RealSelf cost data and intel from Dr. Spiegel’s office, we broke down the procedures most commonly involved in FFS and top surgery.
By no means is this a definitive list. It does, however, give a sense of how much a woman like Jenner, who told Vanity Fair she underwent multiple surgeries including breast augmentation, rhinoplasty, tracheal shave, and forehead, jaw, and chin reshaping, might expect her physical transformation to cost.
Breast Augmentation — minimum $6,000
You can’t just use the same traditional techniques for a male-to-female breast augmentation, say RealSelf doctors. The two surgeries are similar but among other factors, transgender women may not have much breast tissue to work with despite using hormones. Differences like this can lead to varying prices.
Rhinoplasty — minimum $7,000
Reducing the bridge of the nose is just one of the ways a doctor may give the face a more feminine look. Also common: reducing the nasal hump and changing the angle of the nose in relation to the forehead. Revision rhinoplasty is also common, and can more than double the cost. Jenner has undergone two nose surgeries.
Tracheal Shave — est. $5,000
Headlines buzzed when Jenner had this surgery done to reduce her Adam’s apple. Because of the proximity of the vocal cords, this procedure may also change the tone of the voice.
Lip Augmentation — est. $5,000
For a more feminine pout, a doctor may recommend one of three options: injectable fillers, a lip lift to decrease the space between the nose and upper lift, or a lip lift and fillers. Most often, the more you do, the more it’ll cost.
Forehead Contouring — est. $12,000
“Having a smooth forehead is important,” Dr. Spiegel says of FFS. To do this, a doctor may lift the skin of the forehead, cut into the forehead bone to create a softer angle, and/or move the location of the hairline.
Jaw and Chin Reshaping — est. $10,000
A jawline helps define the face, which is why this procedure, which may also involve reshaping the chin, can so radically change a person’s profile.
Cheek Augmentation — $2,000 to $7,000
To amp up the apple of the cheeks, a doctor may use an injectable filler like Voluma or suggest a longer-term option like cheek implants. Making any change to the physical structure of the cheekbones may lead to higher costs.
Of course, when going under the knife, patients don’t always stop with getting a more feminine look. Dr. Spiegel’s office notes many of their older transgender patients also want a facelift or upper or lower eyelid lift, which has the added benefit of taking a decade or two off too. It also can also tack on an extra $15,000.
As for Caitlyn’s final surgeon’s bill, a low estimate is in the area of $50,000 to $60,000 though any number of factors, including how extensive her procedures were and how many she decided to have, could substantially raise that number.