Tracheal shave: will my voice return to normal?
Very often, we have people approaching us concerned with the effect of the Tracheal Shave on the voice. A tracheal shave is often performed as part of Facial Feminization Surgery. Patients are worried their voice will get permanently damaged, and the fear only grows when their voice doesn’t sound very good right after surgery. So, what truly happens during and after a tracheal shave surgery? Is the effect on the voice permanent?
First of all, a tracheal shave aims at removing the Adam's apple of trans women. The surgeon will literally shave off a safe amount of the cartilage. At the start of the surgery, the surgeon will use a special technique to determine where your vocal cords are located in relation to the cartilage. This way it can be assured not too much gets shaved.
What can you expect right after surgery?
- Swelling during the first 48 hours
- Pain and difficulty swallowing
What causes the quality of your voice to lessen after surgery?
- During surgery and general anaesthesia, intubation can affect the mucus of your vocal folds.
- Laryngeal swelling will affect your voice range and voice quality.
What is normal after surgery?
- Your voice has a smaller range and is of lesser quality (croaky/hoarse)
- Difficulties swallowing or talking
- Feeling of tension in your throat and neck area
Do you have advice for a faster recovery?
Try not to worry. Your body needs time to recover, and stress slows the process down. Here are six helpful tips from our voice therapist on how to speed up healing:
- Take vocal rest: take a pause after talking for a while
- Avoid pressure changes: Avoid coughing and clearing your throat with effort, emit sounds while performing a physical or muscular effort (for example lifting a weight).
- Use the yawn to relax the mouth area.
- Inhale hot steam (inhalator) without aromas that will dry you out (eg eucalyptus, menthol), to recover the mucus of your vocal folds
- Voice relaxation exercises (from Katrien, our voice therapist)
- Voice flexibility exercises (from Katrien)
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