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It's been a decade since Billie Lee underwent facial feminization surgery. Now, the Vanderpump Rules hostess is using her platform to shed some light on the procedure that, she says "isn't talked about as much as sex reassignment surgery."
Speaking to Refinery 29, Billie began by describing a feeling of discomfort in her own skin when she was just a child. "I was always really feminine as a child, but then I had to go through puberty as a boy, and the power of testosterone affected me in such a negative way. I saw myself grow more masculine, and it sent me into a depression. My nose extended out pretty far. My eyelids were pretty low. I had a bit of an Adam's apple. All I could focus on were the masculine features, and that was really hard," she said.
When she was about 20 years old, Billie began taking hormones. And though her doctor cautioned her against getting surgery on her face or body before the estrogen had a chance to take effect, the hostess was anxious to become the person she felt destined to be.
"So, I looked up surgeons. I prayed for it. It was something I knew I had to have to feel like me. I wanted to wake up without wearing makeup and look like the person I saw on the inside," Billie said. Her story continued: "About 10 years ago, I decided to go to plastic surgeon Ashkan Ghavami, MD, because I loved his work and how natural it was. For my facial feminization, I had a nose job, a lip lift, a brow lift, and my Adam's apple shaved down, and he took fat from my stomach and put it into my cheekbones. It was a five-hour surgery. It wasn't scary, because I knew it was something I had to do."
The process was, however, dauntingly expensive. Billie estimates she spent about $30,000 on the procedure — but she has no regrets. "Shortly after the surgery, I was out having fun with friends, and walked past a bathroom mirror and I saw myself and I was like, Oh my god, that’s me! There’s this comfortable feeling of home, and also a feeling of shock," she said. "Now, I finally feel like it's me in the mirror. Even now, I still have these really powerful moments where I catch my reflection in a store window and it fills me with so much gratitude."
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