Thyroid Cartilage Shave

Thyroid Cartilage Shave for Transgenders

A thyroid cartilage shave, also known as a tracheal shave, is one of the most common and sought after surgical procedures among facial feminization surgeries for transgender patients, as well as females genetically predisposed to larger Adam’s apples. As a prominent masculine feature, the surgery has become a vital surgical procedure for patients transitioning from male to female. And because the cartilage contained in a male’s neck tends to grow and protrude at a noticeably more acute angle to that of a female’s, it’s no wonder transgender patients consider this procedure necessary as they slowly evolve into female patients. 

Although the procedure is commonly referred to as a tracheal shave, it’s the thyroid cartilage that is reduced for a smooth, clean line down the neck. Over the years, Elements Spa’s board-certified cosmetic plastic, oral and maxillofacial surgeon Dr. Adibfar has perfected his methods and techniques for sculpting and reducing the Adam’s apple in a way that is safe, flattering and natural looking. Choosing the right surgeon is critical for this procedure. A patient’s thyroid cartilage is located in a very delicate area surrounding the vocal chords. The placement of a patient’s cartilage in relation to their vocal chords can slightly limit the amount of thyroid cartilage to be removed. 

An inexperienced surgeon who removes cartilage without taking the vocal chords into consideration can severely damage a patient’s voice, leading to a permanently hoarse and unnatural sounding pitch of voice, as well as possible damage to the airways and natural breathing structure. For this and other reasons, patients should always investigate into their surgeon’s history and make certain they have extensive experience in performing the procedure successfully, as well as have vast knowledge of human anatomy. Let’s get into the procedure’s specifics. 

A small incision can be made in one of two places depending on the patient. Dr. Adibfar will either make a small fine line incision in the middle of the neck mimicking a natural crease line of the patient, or a small incision can be placed higher up just under the chin and further away from the Adam’s apple. The muscles are then separated to expose the cartilage and give Dr. Adibfar indication of where the vocal chords begin as to not interfere with them during the procedure. Then depending on the patient, Dr. Adibfar will either use a sharp knife-like instrument, or a burr to shave down the cartilage. A burr is more often used when the patient’s cartilage appears hard due to calcification. The cartilage is then refined and sculpted before the muscles are closed over the cartilage, then followed by the skin with dissolvable stitches. A bandage is also placed over the incision to protect it from bacteria and infection.

The incision will begin to heal immediately and over time the incision line will significantly fade to where it isn’t noticed to the naked eye. By following Dr. Adibfar’s specific aftercare instructions, this can take anywhere from 6-12 months. Patients may also experience minor hoarseness and/or swelling, a natural side affect which will dissipate shortly after the procedure. 

Patients, especially those transitioning from male to female, are some of the most satisfied patients as their newly contoured neck and set back cartilage no longer relay a masculine gender and allow them to more freely feel and look like themselves. After the incision has fully healed and any swelling or bruising has subsided, they now see a smooth, straight line from under their chin that spans down their neck, with little to no indication of having had a surgical procedure. Some female patients born with more prominent Adam’s apples also find this surgical procedure most appealing as they can look more feminine without any prominent physical contradiction. 

Click here to learn more about feminization surgeries or to book a consultation with Elements Spa’s board-certified cosmetic plastic surgeon Dr. Adibfar.