Perioperative Hormone Management in Gender-Affirming Mastectomy: Is Stopping Testosterone before Top Surgery Really Necessary?

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2023 Feb 1;151(2):421-427. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000009858. Epub 2022 Nov 15.

Abstract

Background: Gender-affirming mastectomy, or "top surgery," has become one of the most frequently performed procedures for transgender and nonbinary patients. However, management of perioperative testosterone therapy remains controversial. Despite a lack of supporting evidence, many surgeons require cessation of testosterone before top surgery. This is the first study to compare complication rates in patients undergoing gender-affirming mastectomy with and without discontinuation of perioperative testosterone.

Methods: This retrospective review included patients undergoing top surgery by the senior author between 2017 and 2020. Reflecting a change in the senior author's practice, before May of 2019, all patients were required to discontinue testosterone before surgery; all patients treated after this point continued their testosterone regimens throughout the perioperative period. Patients were stratified according to testosterone regimen and perioperative hormone management, with demographic characteristics and postoperative outcomes compared among groups.

Results: A total of 490 patients undergoing gender-affirming mastectomy during the study period were included. Testosterone was held perioperatively in 175 patients and continued in 211 patients; 104 patients never received testosterone therapy. Demographic characteristics were similar among groups and there was no difference in rates of hematoma (2.9% versus 2.8% versus 2.9%, respectively; P = 0.99), seroma (1.1% versus 0% versus 1%, respectively; P = 0.31), venous thromboembolism (0% versus 0.5% versus 0%, respectively; P = 0.99), or overall complications (6.9% versus 4.3% versus 5.8%, respectively; P = 0.54).

Conclusions: Our results demonstrate no difference in postoperative complication rates among groups. Whereas further investigation is warranted, our data suggest that routine cessation of testosterone in the perioperative period is not necessary for patients undergoing gender-affirming mastectomy.

Clinical question/level of evidence: Therapeutic, III.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mastectomy / adverse effects
  • Mastectomy / methods
  • Sex Reassignment Surgery* / methods
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use
  • Transgender Persons*
  • Transsexualism* / drug therapy
  • Transsexualism* / surgery

Substances

  • Testosterone