Considering male-to-female sex reassignment surgery? Or just curious as to how the procedure works? Well, you’re not alone.
Gender change surgery is one of the fastest growing medical tourism procedures. Many countries have long waiting lists as demand for surgery outweighs the supply of qualified surgeons.
There is one country, however, which welcomes the booming worldwide interest in the procedure.
Thailand is the global leader when it comes to male-to-female reassignment surgery. At least 3 people travel to Thailand every day for gender-affirming surgery.
So what makes Thailand so attractive for people who want to change their sexual identity?
Whether you’re at the first stage of your research or ready to book your surgery, our guide sets out all you need to know about male-to-female sex reassignment surgery in Thailand.
There are two factors which attract patients to Thailand: low costs and high quality. Let's take a look at both in more detail.
What you need to know about SRS cost
Gender reassignment surgery can be very expensive. Many people can’t afford the surgery in their home country and therefore look at more affordable options abroad.
The main reason for this is the number of stages which are required before reassignment is complete as well as the expertise of the doctors and surgeons.
Looking for SRS price information can be confusing. What exactly does the final cost include?
A typical quote for male-to-female SRS surgery should include:
- Hormone therapy in the year leading up to surgery
- Meetings with a therapist or psychologist
- Laser hair removal or electrolysis
- The cost of all surgical procedures and aftercare
- Additional post-surgery costs, including doctor visits and hormone therapy
Alongside these typical costs, you might also need to pay for the following:
- Voice and body language coaches to aid with the transition
- Fees to change your name or gender on official documents
- Follow-up visits with a therapist
As we said before, there are many different procedures involved in the male-to-female process. These procedures aim to give you a full transformation, both physically and emotionally. This can’t be completed with just one surgery.
These are the surgical procedures you’ll need to complete SRS process:
- Breast augmentation
- Tracheal shave – removing cartilage from the Adam’s apple
- Bilateral orchiectomy – the removal of both testicles
- Vaginoplasty – the creation of a vagina, clitoris and clitoral hood using skin from the penis
Each of these surgical procedures requires a great deal of surgical expertise, as well as specialist equipment and a good amount of time. This is what you’re paying so much for.
When comparing costs for male-to-female surgery, remember that the cheapest price may not necessarily be the best value. If a surgeon specializes in gender correction surgery and has many years of experience, it’s probably worth paying a bit more for their services.
With so many complex procedures needed to complete transition, it’s tough to give an accurate estimate. Here at MEDIGO we’ve done our best to collect as many price quotes as possible to give you an idea of what you can expect to pay.
Now we know what should be included in the quote – how much does male-to-female SRS actually cost?
SRS Costs – United States vs Thailand
The majority of people who go to Thailand for SRS cannot afford the inflated costs in their home country. This is particularly true in the United States, where male-to-female surgery prices are among the highest in the world.
It’s difficult to get coverage on sex reassignment surgery in the US. Many consider gender dysphoria to be a pre-existing medical condition. Some health insurance packages do cover it, but even then there are restrictions. You can search for surgeons which cover gender surgery on insurance or Medicare here.
If you’re looking for male-to-female reassignment surgery in the United States, you can expect to pay around $40,000 for surgery on the genitals, chest and face as well as the required hormonal treatment.
The reconstruction of the genitals alone costs approximately $15,000.
For some people who have no insurance and who need to have the surgery, Thailand is the only option.Dr. Curtis Crane
On average, the cost of male-to-female reassignment surgery in Thailand is around one-third of that in the United States.
You can expect to pay somewhere in the region of $13,500 in Thailand for full sex reassignment surgeries. The variation in price depends on the number of surgeries required, the surgeon’s experience and the location of the clinic.
For a consultation with a specialist in Thailand, you’ll need to pay about $50.
Many clinics offer packages which include all necessary surgical procedures, hormone therapy and accommodation.
Here's a breakdown of average costs in Thailand by surgery:
- Tracheal shave – $2,200
- Breast augmentation – $4,000
- Vaginoplasty – $7,300
Why is Thailand so affordable?
The success of Thailand’s medical tourism industry allows surgeons and clinics to invest in further training and surgical equipment while keeping costs low. This also applies to sex reassignment surgery.
As well as this, education and training for surgeons in Thailand is significantly more affordable than in Europe or the United States. This means that they do not need to charge extortionate prices to cover their initial outlays.
Want more price info?
The first sex change surgery in Thailand was performed in 1975, and clinics began seeing foreign gender reassignment patients a few years later.
Since then a number of surgeons have specialized exclusively in the treatment of patients from abroad, to the point where over 90% of surgeries across the country are now performed on foreigners.
With the majority of their patients coming from overseas, surgeons and clinics in Thailand know how to properly care for patients who travel from all corners of the globe. Their livelihood depends on the quality of their work.
If a patient goes home happy, they’re likely to spread the word. That’s why Thai clinics put great emphasis on patient satisfaction.
They offer additional services aimed at making it as easy as possible for international patients to undergo SRS in Thailand, such as airport transfers, accommodation and translation services if needed.
The level of English at clinics in Thailand varies, but in general the staff and surgeons are able to communicate well with patients.
Is it safe to get SRS in Thailand?
Thai surgeons are some of the most experienced in the world in the procedure. Dr. Preecha Tiewtranon, for example, is said to have performed Thailand’s first gender surgery back in 1975, and has since helped over 3,000 transgender patients.
This doesn’t mean, though, that every surgeon offering SRS in Thailand is safe.
There are currently around 120 doctors in Thailand who are qualified to perform gender surgery. Unfortunately, some doctors claim to be qualified when they are not.
In recent years there have been cases of unqualified surgeons performing gender surgery, sometimes with harmful consequences.
The good news is that with research and scrutiny it’s possible to find a qualified and experienced surgeon.
Here are some things to look out for:
- Surgeon CV. Did they go to a reputable university? Have the trained internationally? Do they have all the necessary certifications?
- Reviews and forums. Reading the stories of real patients can give you some great insights. How do they treat their patients? What was the overall experience like?
- The clinic. Look into the clinic where the surgeon performs. Which safety standards and accreditations do they have? Is it modern? Do they have the latest equipment?
Our experienced Patient Care Team are happy to answer any questions you have and help you find the right surgeon in Thailand.
Important things you need to know
Requirements for SRS in Thailand
The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) is the world’s most respected body when it comes to transexual health. They advise medical institutions, health practitioners and regulatory bodies on the care and treatment of those who fall outside the traditional categories of gender. WPATH have set out a number of guidelines for anyone looking to get SRS in Thailand. Although this can vary from surgeon to surgeon, the following things are usually required before you can be accepted for gender surgery.
- Certification of the diagnosis of gender dysphoria from a qualified therapist
- At least one full year of living as a female
- At least one year of hormone therapy
Length of time abroad
The time spent in hospital depends on the number of surgical procedures. Generally you’ll need to be there for a minimum of 5 days. It’s very important that you have sufficient aftercare in the days following surgery to ensure that everything went well. Clinics have dedicated teams of nurses who care specifically for gender surgery patients during the recovery phase. Most gender surgery patients stay in Thailand for around a month, giving them plenty of time to recover before returning home. This also gives you enough time to complete all the necessary pre-op consultations and properly prepare for surgery. One you’re feeling better, you can take some time to start enjoying the new you in Thailand, one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.
Perhaps the most important surgery in the male-to-female process is the creation of the vagina. There are a few different ways to do this. During the consultation phase your surgeon will discuss the different methods with you and advise you on which one is most suitable for your situation. Generally, the different techniques are categorized by penis length:
This is a specialist technique which combines penile skin inversion along with the connection of the vaginal canal to a section of the rectosigmoid colon. One advantage of this method is the creation of a deeper vagina with more lubrication.
On the other hand, vaginoplasty with sigmoid colon is more of an invasive procedure, with an incision needed in the abdomen to access the colon.
When there is not enough skin from the penis to give sufficient vaginal depth, skin from the scrotum can be used to compensate. It’s very important that this skin is hairless, however, so laser hair removal is required beforehand to ensure that skin doesn’t grow inside the vagina after the surgery.
The testicles are removed before head of the penis is moved to form the clitoris. The blood supply and nerve endings are still present, meaning that the new clitoris will have sensation and the patient will be able to achieve orgasm.
The remaining skin of the penis is then inverted to create the vagina. The final depth of the vagina depends on how much skin is available to the surgeon, which means that patients with a longer penis are most suited to this technique.
Top SRS surgeons in Thailand
Dr. Thiti Chaovanalikit
Bangpakok 9 International Hospital
One of the best-known surgeons for SRS surgery in Thailand, Dr. Thiti Chaovanalikit is highly experienced and the director of the first sex reassignment surgery workshop to be held in Bangkok.
Certified by the Thai Board of General Surgery in 2000.
Languages spoken: English, Thai.
Dr. Preecha Tiewtranon
Preecha Aesthetic Institute
Dr. Preecha Tiewtranon performed Thailand’s first ever sex reassignment surgery in 1975 and is considered to be one of the pioneers of the technique.
He was certified by the American Board of Surgery in 1973, underwent many years of residency training in the United States and is the former president of the Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons of Thailand.
Languages spoken: English, Thai.
Dr. Rungkit Tanjatkul
Bangpakok 9 International Hospital
Dr. Rungkit Tanjatkul operates at Bangpakok 9 International Hospital, one of the most renowned hospitals in Thailand. He was certified by the Thai Board of Plastic Surgery in 2006 and has been performing SRS surgery for more than 10 years.
Languages spoken: English, Thai
Not sure where to start?
Our Patient Care Team can answer any questions about SRS in Thailand.