A trachea shave is a surgical procedure which is designed to reduce the prominence of the patient's trachea. It is most typically performed on transgender individuals who want to reduce the size of their Adam's apples for a more feminine profile. This surgery is one among a family of procedures known as feminization surgeries, because they are designed to make someone look more feminine. A biological man may also receive a trachea shave for cosmetic reasons, if he feels that his Adam's apple is too prominent.
The Adam's apple or prominentia laryngea is part of the larynx, which houses the voice box. As people undergo puberty, the larynx grows, sometimes creating a very large bump which moves as the person eats or speaks. Men tend to develop more prominent Adam's apples, and as a result this structure is associated with masculinity. For male to female transsexuals, the Adam's apple is not desirable, because it makes them appear more masculine, and it may look strange to observers.
When a trachea shave is performed, a small slit is made in the throat and a surgeon removes some of the protruding cartilage. It is important to ensure that the cartilage is removed evenly, creating a smooth, uniform look, and surgeons must also judge how much to remove. If the surgery is too shallow, an unsightly bump may remain, and if it is too deep, the vocal cords can be damaged. After the surgery, the surgeon makes a few stitches.
This procedure can be performed under a local anesthetic as an outpatient procedure, but it is more often bundled with other feminization surgeries under general anesthesia. While the trachea shave site heals, the patient may feel a bit sore or have a raspy voice, but there are usually no lasting effects unless the vocal cords have been damaged in some way. Some surgeons encourage patients to massage the scar from the surgery with vitamin E oil to break it up so that it will not be visible.
The trachea shave is also known as a chondrolaryngoplasty, an Adam's apple reduction, or a thyroid cartilage reduction. It can be performed by a plastic surgeon, an otolaryngologist, or a surgeon who specializes in feminization surgeries. As with any surgery, it is important to be informed about the potential risks of the procedure, and a good surgeon will be happy to show a portfolio of his or her work to prospective clients.