It has been more than 40 years since that first transgender patient asked me if there was not some operation I could do to modify her voice. Her body surgery had been successful, and I was about to perform both hair restoration surgery and nasal surgery to complete the physical transformation. Yet, she was still quite distraught about her voice.
She explained to me that it was quite embarrassing to speak to someone over the telephone and have them say, “Well, thank you for your help, Sir.” Her voice was quite deep, and she was not able to place the pitch into the female range; this obviously presented serious problems in completing a successful transition for gender reassignment.
I explained to her that there was no surgery that I knew of for voice modification, but I would attempt a procedure which might work. I told her that there was no guarantee of success, but she said she was willing to take this chance, even though the procedure might fail, because of the problem that her voice presented. Well, not only was the experimental procedure successful, but it succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. The patient’s voice was well within the female range and nobody referred to her as “Sir” after that! (All transgender patients owe this person ‘J’ a great deal of gratitude, as she allowed me to develop this revolutionary procedure by her willingness to “take a chance.”)
That was more than 40 years ago, and since then several hundred patients have undergone similar surgery with a success rate of more than 95%. (The remainder do not achieve a significant change in voice pitch.) This voice modification surgery is unique, it was developed by me, and no other surgeon I am aware of uses this technique.
The voice modification surgery is performed as an outpatient procedure in our surgery suite under local anesthesia. There will be a small, fine, one-inch line in the neck crease after the procedure. If desired, the Adam’s apple can be shaved during the same operation. There is very little discomfort afterwards, and the patient is able to fly home in 48 hours. Contact sports and extreme athletic endeavors are to be curtailed for several weeks after the procedure. The voice remains somewhat hoarse for a few weeks afterwards.
The goal of the surgery is to create a voice which sounds female on the telephone. The surgery is performed to the best of my ability. There can be no guarantee of the results, but there have been no serious complications or problems with this procedure to the present time.
The sole purpose for this procedure is to change the pitch of a male's voice into the female range. It will not help someone sing better, or strengthen their voice. It allows the transgender patient better to conform to a female if their voice sounds female.
A tiny incision is made in the natural crease of the neck. The vocal cords are adjusted. The procedure is done under a local anesthetic so that you and the doctor can decide on the pitch of your voice. The incision is closed with a type of stitch that you will be able to pull one end/loop and all the stitches will come out much like the hem on a skirt at fourteen days after surgery. The incision is so fine that once healed, you won't even be able to find it. Dr. Mayer is a World Class Facial Plastic Surgeon and has been performing the Voice Modification surgery for more than 40 years. His results are amazing!