I Should Have Listned To My Instincts
Written November 2018.
I came out in 2016 at 44 years old. A wondrous experience my life changed overnight! Finally all those little bread crumbs came together. I always hated being me, feeling I was to small etc.. Well huzzah! Now I was delighted to be petite, have great...
I Should Have Listned To My Instincts
Written November 2018.
I came out in 2016 at 44 years old. A wondrous experience my life changed overnight! Finally all those little bread crumbs came together. I always hated being me, feeling I was to small etc.. Well huzzah! Now I was delighted to be petite, have great hair and be able to buy women’s clothes and shoes off the racks. I’m lucky in so many ways, including how well hormones have worked in reshaping my body.
The only real failing in my “passing” was my face. That part of you which everyone sees first. And no matter how well I did with my hair, makeup, voice and feminine mannerisms, I kept getting misgendered. I was obviously not passing as I’d like.
This said I always gave my face a pass. After all I was fighting a lifetime of T and had so much to be thankful for, I never let it get to me. So when I realized that I had full insurance coverage for FFS I rejoiced! Finally I could move my face from the male to the female metric! So the search for a surgeon began.
To my excitement I had The Spiegel Center only an hour away. Led by Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel, his Goggle reviews read like a superstar! I also had a few friends that used him on various procedures with no complaint other than, “he wasn’t aggressive enough” in his feminizing. I decided to make a consult.
His office was clean, attractive and the staff were very accommodating. A bit over the top, (fake) in their happiness to see me, nonetheless they were just trying to be kind. I was greeted by Carole and brought up to speed on the basics. Shortly thereafter Spiegel came in and sat with me. He seemed genuine if not a bit full of himself. But he after all is the seasoned pro, why should he be anything else. I let it go.
I explained my story, (he’s heard them a thousand times) and he then proceeded to poke and squeeze my face while he laid out a laundry list of things he’s do. I reminded him that I was coming in under insurance and he modified the “wish list” accordingly.
The consult lasted all of 15 minutes. He didn’t ask for any x-rays, high resolution scans, or offer any computer aided images to help me envision how I would look, or for that matter how he would work with my unique features. I found it odd. Here’s the self proclaimed, “best in the world” and it felt as if I was being hurried by an appliance salesman. Again I let it go. Cause you know doctors, they’re a interesting bunch.
I came in a few days before surgery very nervous and inquisitive. I had done some, (probably not enough) research on the various procedures I was to have. I went through each one…
My forehead. It was to be a Type 3 with brow lift and scalp advancement. Hairline incision. I had minimum brow bossing, but a very deep series of forehead lines and relatively flat eyebrows. You’re gonna look amazing he said. I felt better.
My nose. My nose was huge. Akin to a giant triangle it overpowered my face. It worked perfectly fine, I just wanted to have the large bump removed, have is contoured and a nice little up swing in the tip. No problem he said. I felt better.
My chin. I had a very feminine jawline. I looked fantastic from the front! My problem was my overbite. I looked like Bart Simpson. I had taken to throwing my jaw forward to compensate and it worked fine enough. But I had near zero jaw/neck differentiation, and that’s what I wanted corrected the best we can. He said, “we’re gonna make a small incision in your mouth, insert an implant and then stitch it up, you’re going to look beautiful.” It sounded so simple and easy, this guy knew what he was doing! I felt better.
Then my tracheal shave. No worries he said. So I felt better.
During that 20 min appointment signed a few well worn forms and was introduced to another doctor. Spiegel introduced her and said, “she’s going to be assisting me.” To which I replied, cool. She exited as fast as she entered. I was again waiting for something more. And again he didn’t ask for any x-rays, high resolution scans, or offer any computer aided images to help me envision how I would look. Just his word. Now this bothered me.
How on earth can he put together a surgical plan on my unique face without a stitch of imagery? I had a “gut feeling” but felt so lulled into safety by his matter of fact presentation I ignored it. After all he had all these great reviews. So off we went.
I went to Boston Medical Center in Boston Massachusetts, USA on March 15, 2018. Met with Spiegel, (never saw the assistant) and was wheeled into surgery. 4 hours later woke up in recovery. Stayed one night and was released the next day.
Upon getting my legs beneath me I looked into the mirror. Other than the insane stitching job on my forehead, it looked amazing! My eyebrows looked positively beautiful! My nose had a cast, my neck a small bandage, and my chin… well this was the first time I was like, “what is this?!”
I looked hideous. It was massive. Like Jay Leno, a witch, boxer, or the character from the movie Sling Blade. I knew something wasn’t right. I was going to ask about what was going on when I had my post op.
A week later I had my post op. The cast removed, my stitches pulled out. I still looked a mess, but as Spiegel said, “you’re doing great,” I asked about my chin and he repeated the marching orders, “you’re swollen, you need to let things heal up.” I didn’t feel better, but did accept that I was still healing.
Within the next two weeks as everything continued to heal, I noticed my forehead scar was opening. Both sides looked like the grand canyon. My hairline was only advanced on one side and was still way back on the other. I also started noticing lines reappearing in my forehead and my eyebrows beginning to flatten.
My nose which seemed okay upon the cast coming off, blew up as if I had gotten into a fight. I could not breath at all out of one side, and the other was strained severely.
My chin had a huge contusion, was still massive and along wth my lower lip, completely numb like my forehead. A result never articulated to me before surgery.
Things only got worse from there. So I reached out to Carole and the team in tears. They placated me over and over, (never taking ownership) but reassuring me they would do everything in their power to make me happy. So I scheduled a meet with Spiegel. The days before my appointment I wrote a very polite inquisitive email outlining my thoughts knowing how emotional I was.
I was made to wait over an hour and a half for the doctor to come into the waiting room. I was livid, and he took no ownership, no apologies and no assistant were present with us. I explained in tears, and whenever I touched upon anything that called into account, he would redirect the conversation and/or dig in and “get firm’ with me. Basically letting me know how it was. “I’m the best in the world, I’ve been on tv” he said in his recounting of his resume. He made sure to let me know that he did nothing wrong, and I was being too sensitive. It was an utterly humiliating experience.
Time would pass as I would see him again a month later, (four months post op) only this time I brought a friend. The entire experience was different. He was more accommodating. we discussed my brows being flat and my wrinkles fully returned. And now I had developed a dent between my eyes to which he claimed was just muscles and we could fix it wth fillers. Say what?! I insisted that I wanted to be opened up and fixed correctly on my forehead, nose and chin. And I wanted to be under for the procedure. He agreed, and left it to the office staff to schedule.
Carole and staff became impossible to get in touch with. As they did everything in their power to put me off until March of 2019 to revise me. And of course I’d now have to pay nearly 7K in fees for the pleasure. I refused. Making clear, these weren’t cosmetic variations I wasn’t happy with, they were deformities. I could not, and still cannot breather through my nose, let alone the dent, scarring and massive chin implant that destroyed the balance of my lower face and the beauty in my jawline.
The surgeries were botched. All three. I had FFS surgery. The mother of all facial surgeries, to which should have moved my metrics from male to female. Instead they did nothing. I walked into that office looking like a man, and walked looking like a slightly different man. I’m misgendered today just as much as I was before surgery.
I have no clue why this happened to me. I have my suspicions and they are horrific. I came in under insurance. Is this the quality work those insured patients get vs. cash patients? There are only two explanations as to why my FFS with the practice who touts itself as being, "the best" would end up in complete botch job.
I learned post surgery that Dr. Spiegel operates a teaching practice. They have student surgeons train under him. Learning on the job. And here I do believe that from all research I've done in combination with the results I have; that's what happened to me. For their lead surgeon cannot be so incompetent. His protégée operated on me without my consent.
Remember, I met the doctor "assisting" the lead surgeon for all of two seconds. I was never asked if she could touch my body, perform any procedure or actually do the procedures in full. I never gave informed consent. I was never even asked. And if I were, never have agreed. Who would! I don’t want a student operating on my face.
So either Spiegel mailed in his work because I was an “insurance job” and he doesn’t make as much when he’s paid by insurance carriers. OR… to that same end, what a better patient to have a student practice on. And that’s what I feel happened to me at The Spiegel Center. They bait and switched me.
From top to bottom this practice was sub-standard. Their pre-op care is fly-by-night, they use students without the patients permission, and they are rude and dismissive post-op refusing to take ownership of their failings. I would not recommend this practice for any FFS procedures.
- Facial implants
- Forehead recontouring
- Nose feminisation
- Tracheal shave
- How serious were these complications? Bad
- How well has the practitioner reacted to the complication(s)? Poorly
- To what extent has the problem caused by the complication been resolved? Not resolved at all