health

This is what Caitlyn Jenner's physical transformation involved.

Image: Annie Leibovitz/Vanity Fair.

If Kim Kardashian broke the internet last year, Caitlyn Jenner completely obliterated it yesterday.

After living for more than six decades as Bruce Jenner, Caitlyn made her first public appearance through a 22-page cover story in Vanity Fair magazine.

“This shoot was about my life and who I am as a person,” the 65-year-old told writer Buzz Bissinger.

“It’s not about the fanfare, it’s not about people cheering in the stadium, it’s not about going down the street and everybody giving you ‘that a boy, Bruce,’ pat on the back, O.K. This is about your life.”

Though much of the discussion focused on the emotional aspects of transitioning from male to female, Caitlyn also spoke about the physical process it entailed.

Caitlyn told Bissinger she hadn't undergone genital surgery — a procedure some, but not all, trans people opt for — and in last month's About Bruce program, Caitlyn said there was no plan to have gender reassignment surgery.

RELATED: What happens if you’re transgender and you have a gendered illness?

However, Caitlyn said she has had a breast augmentation, and underwent a 10-hour procedure known as 'facial feminisation' on March 15.

According to the team at Costhetics.com.au, facial feminisation refers to "a variety of surgical and cosmetic treatments whose goal is to make a masculine face appear more feminine". They say this procedure enhanced several aspects of Caitlyn's face, including her forehead, nose, cheeks, chin, eyes and overall face shape. (Post continues after gallery.)

"To make somebody more feminine, you want to make a lot of their facial features less coarse... So you want to basically thin the nose down, you want to raise the cheekbones up and make the cheeks look less full," plastic surgeon Dr David Alessi — who did not treat Caitlyn— explained to People. He estimates her facial surgery would have cost $US35,000, which roughly equates to $45,000 Australian dollars.

Caitlyn also had a tracheal shave, also known as chondrolaryngoplasty, which reduces the size of an individual's "Adam's Apple" — a physical feature that is, very generally speaking, associated with men.

RELATED: How to show your support for a loved one who is transitioning.

"The surgeon makes a small incision in a crease of the neck to reveal the cartilage beneath. The surgeon shaves off the excess cartilage and the top part of the V, then stitches the neck muscles back together and closes the incision using sutures," explains the Costhetics team.

ADVERTISEMENT

The emotional impact of cosmetic surgeries like these can be significant for an individual who is transitioning.

Caitlin Jenner made her reveal in Vanity Fair.

Caitlyn Jenner says she suffered a panic attack the day after her facial feminisation procedure — she recalled thinking, “What did I just do? What did I just do to myself?”

A counseller from the Los Angeles Gender Centre reassured her second-guessing was a very human reaction to such a major change, and also mentioned this reaction is sometimes brought about by post-treatment pain medication.

Dr Alessi tells People it's important for individuals to have a psychological consultation before undergoing any surgery, particularly for breast augmentations or gender reassignment surgery, which can be especially emotionally challenging due to its cost, extensiveness and permanence.

RELATED: Transgender teen announced as the new face of Clean & Clear.

As Buzz Bissinger explains in Vanity Fair, only about a quarter of transgender woman choose to undergo gender reassignment surgery. "The transgender community for years has been trying to get the public to understand that genitalia are not a determinant of gender," he writes.

Even the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) advises individuals to not have genital surgery until a least a year after transitioning.

Caitlyn Jenner has more than one million twitter followers.

It's important to mention that all of these cosmetic procedures come with a significant financial cost, which can make them totally out of reach for many transgender people.

Although Caitlyn Jenner is a wealthy, privileged woman, this is not typical of all members of the trans community. A report earlier this year found that in the US, transgender people were four times more likely to be living in poverty than cisgender people. Here in Australia, evidence indicates members of the LGBTI community — which includes trans people — may be particularly vulnerable to homelessness.

There are numerous online resources where trans and gender diverse people and their loved ones can find information and support. These include, but are not limited to: Transgender VictoriaAlly Project, The Gender CentreNational LGBTI Health Alliance, and FTM Australia.

00:00 / ???