My name is Donna Rose, and I was a patient of Dr. O’s in 1999.
At that point in my life, I was forty years old and had been a long-time husband, dedicated father, successful businessman, muscular collegiate wrestler, and devoted son.
Like many transgendered people I recognized my gender dilemma from an early age and spent much of my life running and hiding from my true self. I struggled with the overwhelming feelings of shame, guilt, and fear that harboring a dark secret can cause.
Like many of us, I resigned myself to the sad fact that a cruel cosmic mistake had been made and I was powerless to change it. That all changed the day I saw Dr. O’s work. I stumbled across the website of one of Dr. O’s early patients during my ongoing search for proof that a happy, fulfilling life was even possible for people like me. I spent hours staring in disbelief at extraordinary before & after photos there.
On one side of the page there were images of a balding, middle-aged man and on the other was an attractive, feminine woman. Gone were all the traces of the unmistakable masculine facial features that no amount of makeup and no type of flattering feminine hairstyle could hide. It was more than amazing. My life changed that day, and it has never been the same.
During his initial consult Dr. O immediately puts patients at ease with his humor, his professionalism, and his warmth. He stresses that he can’t guarantee beauty. Nobody can guarantee that. Rather, he explains that his goal for his patients is that, if on a Saturday morning someone knocks at the door and they wake up and get out of bed with messy hair, no makeup, no jewelry, and answer the door, and the first words they would hear after opening the door would be, “Excuse me, ma’am, but…” That’s all most of us want. The thing that makes Dr. O so special, however, is more than simply his extraordinary surgical prowess. It’s his aesthetic eye: the eye of a master craftsman, or an artisan.
He has developed techniques and tools that are uniquely his; his scalpel is his chisel, and our faces are his canvas. It’s his effort to continually refine and improve. It’s his dedication to both his craft and his patients that lasts a lifetime.
All of those things go far beyond the fact that he is indeed the father of Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS). There is nobody like him and, most likely, there never will be. He cannot be replaced. He has no peers. There are those who trivialize Dr. O’s work as simple cosmetic surgery. These people choose to misunderstand. A better comparison, I think, would be to a surgeon whose efforts help a blind person to see, or a disabled person to walk, or a deaf person to hear. His work gives us the hope for living a better life.
It’s not simply about vanity. It’s about that deeper sense of inner peace that comes with alignment. My Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS) was the single-most profound experience of my entire life in many, many ways. I was on his operating table for eleven hours, and when I awoke I cried, wondering, “What have I done?”
I refused to look in the mirror for those first few days, afraid of what I’d see. But as the swelling subsided, the incisions healed, and feeling returned to the top of my head I found myself constantly startled when I’d see myself, almost as if looking at a strangely familiar stranger, a sister, maybe, or a cousin.
The money spent on these procedures was the best money I have ever spent on anything, and it was the single most important event of my entire transition, including the “other” surgery.
Although the physical changes have certainly been significant and have enabled me to live a life I only dared dream was possible, they are only the tip of the iceberg. They pale in comparison to the deeper emotional and spiritual changes that they have brought me. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be Dr. Ousterhout’s patients will attest that his work is far more than skin deep. It is, in face, soul deep.
The last dozen years have been a Golden Age for transgender people, partly thanks to his work. Many of us are finally choosing to remain visible to correct misconceptions and to address the stigmas of mental illness, immorality, sexual perversion, and weakness of character that caused generations of us to hide in fear and shame.
We are taking our rightful place as healthy, whole, vibrant people in broader society. I give part of the credit for that to Dr. O and his work. He has truly transformed a generation of us in a number of significant ways, and we are all better for knowing him.
Dr. O truly does set angels free! He gives unlived lives wings that enable them to soar. He breathes renewed life into souls that had languished. He is possibility. And, I’m thankful to say he is a friend.
Every day I have benefited from his amazing skills. I am very proud to have helped popularize these procedures in the transgender community, as I believe they can be a critical component to transition. It’s made every aspect of my life more comfortable, from my work in film and television, to dating, to just running errands.
When you feel good about your appearance, it affects how other people respond to you. Dr. O helped give me the life I dreamed of having, and I have been grateful to him every day since.
My name is Lana and I have had a couple of surgical procedures with Dr. Douglas Ousterhout in 2011 (specifically: a lip lift and forehead recontouring with brow lift, scalp advancement and scar revision) and I wish to say how wonderful he and his staff are.
They are truly professional, nice, and helpful. I cannot say anything yet about the result because it’s too soon and I am still very swollen, although I can already see a difference in a few areas and I hope to heal well, but I can definitely say that Dr. Ousterhout and his collaborators are the nicest and most professional people I have ever met.
He has always been very patient with me, even when I asked him hundreds of questions. He has always been able to clarify doubts and answer questions. Dr. Ousterhout is very detail-oriented and during the pre-surgery assessments he was able to notice things that I intended to mention or had forgot to bring up
Also, Dr. Ousterhout is friendly and makes me feel comfortable, unlike many doctors who treat patients with arrogance.
Mira Coluccio has been so helpful, supportive, patient, I cannot thank her enough. She is a very knowledgeable, professional, precise person who made my experience much easier. Mira has unparalleled organization skills. She helped me plan every single aspect of my surgery. My recovery would have been much harder if it hadn’t been for her.
If I had to rate my experience with Dr Ousterhout, Mira and their collaborators on a scale from 1 to 10, I would choose 11.
I first contacted Dr. Ousterhout’s office in December of 2009 with a few basic questions and a query as to whether or not his retirement was imminent. The response I received was as detailed as it was prompt; I knew I was working with the right people.
I’d like to place an emphasis on working with Dr. Ousterhout and his staff; in particular Mira Coluccio, the good doctor’s business manager and the person I initially (and subsequently) contacted.
Far from being obtrusive, Dr. Ousterhout and his staff are both courteous and sensitive to their patient’s unique needs. You are always their number one priority and I never felt as if I was being mixed up with another patient; I was always “Melanie” from day one. This might sound trivial but it is indeed important; many of his patients, myself included, have a certain amount of anxiety coming into the experience (unjustifiably so, as it turns out) and it is something of a relief to feel like one isn’t being herded along like so much nameless cattle.
My consultation and subsequent pre-surgery appointment with Dr. Ousterhout was as fascinating as it was reassuring. I felt comfortable talking to him; he is honest, frank, and wise when it comes to his field of expertise. The latter observation may seem like a no-brainer to some but knowledge is not synonymous with wisdom.
He also has a sense of humor and an easygoing nature; very positive attributes that only add to the experience. Dr. Ousterhout was the first person I remember seeing and conversing with (however briefly, for obvious reasons) after my surgery and again, his lovely bedside manner is something I will keep with me for a lifetime.
Regarding surgery: the first day is difficult as expected but I healed remarkably fast and without much bruising or swelling. In my research I found that many of Dr. Ousterhout’s patients share a speedy post-operative recovery period, a testament to his skill.
I was able to see “me” fairly quickly and even now, just thirteen days later, I am quite frankly amazed at how fast I’ve recovered considering what was done to me while I was under.
It would be remiss of me if I did not give Mira Coluccio her due in my recovery. A consummate professional and indispensable, Mira is also quite engaging and like Dr. Ousterhout, made me feel quite welcome in their neck of the woods.
I looked forward to seeing her during my post-operative office visits; it was Mira who removed my various stitches and nose bandaging. Needless to say, the latter was a painless experience, a testament to her considerable skill.
I will miss our conversations and Mira’s pleasant nature in general. Overall, the experience was something of an adventure for me. Like any call to adventure, I was quite nervous going in; there seemed to be so many uncertainties about it, but I pressed on nonetheless.
All of my fears proved to be unfounded however. Dr. Ousterhout and friends gave me something more than just a pretty face (yes; he did an amazing job); they gave me the experience of a lifetime.
It was Michelangelo who said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
That’s how many of us feel about Dr. Ousterhout. He sees angels in faces, and he sets them free. As a transgender person, it is impossible to explain to inconsolable anguish of looking into a mirror, day after day and year after year, and seeing an imposter there. How does one find the words to express the endless frustration of play-acting through an uncomfortable, unfulfilling life trapped inside a body that never fit?
At the same time, what words can accurately convey the simple peace that comes with alignment of spirit, mind and body? Most people never ask themselves those questions. For many of Dr. O’s patients, we are consumed by
As I write, I am now about 6 weeks post-operative. I assume that anyone contemplating this type of major surgery does a great deal of research when finding a surgeon. Each person of course, has his or her own criteria in deciding with whom to work with.
In my case, I had spent numerous hours on the Internet, various blog sites, and talked to several people whom had gone through this procedure. Additionally, I had one-on-one consults with a total of five US-based surgeons whom I evaluated prior to deciding on Dr. Ousterhout.
Therefore, I felt very comfortable that I had done the needed research and in my decision to work with Dr. O, I would be both happy and have the knowledge that I did everything I could to make a reasonable and well-informed decision.
My expectations of Dr. O were met. He is highly skilled, highly professional, and to me, a genuinely caring individual who dedicated his life to improving the quality of life of so many others. He is not pretentious by any means, and though obviously extremely busy in his practice, gave me all the time I needed to discuss my individual expectations and desires.
He was beyond pleasant; he was nice. His demeanor matches his skill as a surgeon and I am obviously impressed.
I would be negligent if I didn’t also express my deep appreciation of his skilled assistant, Mira. She was extremely personable and cheerful as well as thoroughly efficient and knowledgeable. I felt like I was the only patient she was working with. In my case, I developed prior to surgery a condition that had no affect on my surgery with Dr. O, but might of had one with additional surgery I had scheduled in a few weeks with another surgeon.
She took total charge of this situation, which, I want to emphasize, really had nothing to do with the surgery at hand. She spoke several times directly with the surgeon for my next surgery explaining the issue, set up an appointment with a local specialist, and totally became my advocate. Her care and concern made me feel like a friend, not a patient, and I don’t think I am the only one to feel this way.
To summarize, I definitely and without hesitation recommend Dr. Ousterhout for anyone contemplating Facial Feminization Surgery (FFS). If your experience with him and Mira are only half what I experience, you will be fully satisfied.