Community Conversation > Voice Therapy and Surgery

The Summer of Silence - Prelude

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TessB:
8 months ago, I finally made the decision to pursue VFS. I feel my voice is at this point in time the only thing keeping me back, as speaking in front of a new group sometimes feels like coming-out. I kind of embraced being trans* (there's no point fighting it anyway), but it's not something I want people to focus on. In particular when I teach at university. It was not that much of a problem though, until COVID and the rise of the Zoom-lectures... I found myself crying afterwards a couple of times when I accidentally heard myself looped through a student's mic. That did it for me. That's when I broke.

I made an appointment with Dr. Hess from Medical Voice Centre (formerly Stimmklinik) in Hamburg last December. However, because of COVID, it was unclear whether and when surgery could take place, until last Monday. It's short-term notice (3 weeks), but I was prepared for that. I have decided to dub the prospective post-surgery period as the "Summer of Silence". If anyone is curious about this particular surgeon or my experience, let me know! But I also have a question for those who went through VFS surgery before me.

Approx. 5 weeks after surgery, I intend to start teaching again. What I was curious about: is this too optimistic?

Rachel:
Hello TessB,

I do not know what procedure you will be having or how aggressive.

I had a CTS and that took a long time to heal. I then had an incorrect glottoplasty that had to be corrected, again a long time to heal. I had FemLar and I would say at 5 weeks you can talk a little but not for long periods. I had to have laser, a corrective procedure stemming from the 2nd incorrect surgery. I would say 3 weeks to talk with some volume.

There are a lot of factors at play. Your healing, the type of surgery and the aggressiveness of the surgery. If you are having a 50% glottoplasty and are older with average healing I think 5 weeks for some talking, perhaps 10% normal amount at most.

Others may have had a different experience and my glottoplasty was extremely aggressive and done in the middle of the vocal fold.

I would ask your surgeon their opinion.

TessB:
Hi Rachel,

It is going to be a glottoplasty. I was informed about other options (including FemLar). I went through what was basically half a day off consultations, including with their speech therapist. What I understood from this particular surgeon is that they use botox to temporarily ease the tension on the vocal chords after glottoplasty. They pretty much said it should be doable if I do not overdo it, but I am trying to picture what to expect in general. I can bear the thought of my voice not being optimal until 6-12 months after surgery. But how bad does it tend to be in the beginning?

P.S. I decided to go to Germany because quality of VFS in the Netherlands is pretty bad.

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