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Undergoing either FTM (female to male) or FTNB (female to non-binary) top surgery is absolutely life changing.

Getting rid of the major source of your gender dysphoria is no small matter. For many, it may have seemed like an eternity for this all to have happened.

Now, you want to make sure that your results are as good as they can be. A great way to maximize this probability is to closely follow the guidelines and instructions that you probably were given prior to your surgery.

For all of our patients, we make sure that not only have they been given instructions and guidelines but that they also fully understand them. If there are any questions, we are always available to answer them.

One not so uncommon question that our FTM and FTNB patients have is: “When can I sleep on my side?”

This may seem like a trivial question but it is not. Many people do have difficulty or experience issues when they have to sleep just on their backs – whether related to back or other problems.

The answer to “when can you sleep on your side” is: It depends.

The reason for there being no one specific answer is because there are several variables that are involved in affecting this determination and they will be different with each individual. These can include the technique used, extent of the incisions, presence of drains, state of healing, nutritional status, medical issues and, of course, the all-important physician preference.

If your plastic surgeon makes a recommendation to you, it would be very wise to follow it – for several reasons.


Some may stipulate that you avoid laying on your side for a specific and fixed period of time that is independent of other factors. Others may individualize this period of avoidance.
Then, there may be those who have no guidelines.

For my FTM and FTNB top surgery patients, the usual range of time that they are instructed to avoid laying fully on their side is around one to two months.

The restrictions are shorter for those individuals who have had top surgery that employed the keyhole or concentric circle approach as compared to those who have had the double incision free nipple graft technique.

Sleeping not totally on one’s back – like 20 to 30 degrees on the side, being supported or propped up with pillows – may be able to be done even earlier.

If being able to sleep on your side is important and you have not been given explicit clearance to do so – please do not hesitate to ask.

For any questions that you still have regarding FTM or FTNB top surgery related issues, please feel free to contact us either by phone at (480) 451-3000 or by email.

Steven H. Turkeltaub, M.D. P.C.
Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona

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