Pain? I can say it did not hurt at all, not even 1%. Because they grafted nerves out of my arm, I felt pressure and vibration but zero pain. I am not trying to be macho in any way. I know what tattoo discomfort should feel like. It’s just that my arm is not capable of feeling that kind of pain. Full thickness donor site with nerves taken in the graft… You couldn’t ask for a comfier tattoo.
Color? The color was immediately more robust than other tattoos I’ve gotten. On normal skin, the tattoos faded out in some areas in the weeks following tattoo and needed touch-ups. As a contrast, the only part which needed touching up was not in the donor area. The artist let the tattoo cross the boundaries between donor area and original tissue, which blended the line visually. 2.5 years later, the tattoo pigment is still more bold and fresh looking than you would expect, in a good way. If the chance came my way to add more art to this arm, between great color retention and no pain capacity, I’m in. Split thickness graft applied to donor bed — It takes color like a BOSS.
Long-term healing hyperpigmentation in the sun, experience—
Is this experience similar with other skin tones? I only know my own experience.
Everyone will be slightly different, but my arm RFF donor site darkens super fast without sunscreen. It will even darken through clothing. At this point I’m annoyed by wearing UV sleeves anymore, so I usually won’t wear a sleeve for daily use in light sun.
I’ll do it begrudgingly if I have to be in bright light for an extended period, but there’s some sort of lingering squirmy feel for me, for donor site sleeves, since I was trapped in a sleeve 24/7 for the first year, it felt like. When I can go bare skin, I do.
I used to work really hard to bleach the skin back to matching the rest of my arm, but I don’t bother anymore. It just is a bit tanner most of the time, and I bet no one notices as much as I do. I’m more relaxed about my body being a little different now. Most people think I shave my arm perfectly smooth to feature my tattoo, not because I don’t grow hair there. Haha.
When I was first looking into surgery I was scared by some of the photos which I had seen floating around… Along with the uninformed, negative opinion the trans community seemed to have about phalloplasty. I’m glad I didn’t let the fears stop me. I was willing to accept intense scars and keeping my arm covered for life if need be, but I did not have to make that sacrifice after all.
These photos were taken 3.5 years post-op RFF phalloplasty. I feel great about my arm : ) Is it perfect or just like it was before? No. But I’ve spent enough time with my arm like this that it feels like me, and I don’t notice the scar myself much either. It’s just how my arm looks, hairless there, and I’m unexpectedly chill about it.
Since I get this question often enough, my arm and hand mobility is the same as it ever was. The change was just temporary during early healing. I still type about 70 words per minute, still play the piano badly, and can open all but the evilest of pickle jars. Dexterity, stamina, and strength are all good.