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Vocal fold relaxation

What is vocal fold relaxation?

Surgery to lower the fundamental frequency (pitch) of the voice.

It's also known as Relaxation thyroplasty or Type III thyroplasty.

What does vocal fold relaxation do?

How long does vocal fold relaxation last?

There is insufficient medical evidence to say how long the effects last for.

What should I be aware of?

Vocal fold relaxation is a new and uncommon surgical technique that has the ability to significantly lower the fundamental frequency (pitch) of the voice 1, p.147.

There are currently only a few small-scale short-term medical studies into using this technique in humans 2;3, and how safe and effective it is long-term remains unknown.

It is also possible to increase the mass of the vocal chords by injecting them with fat from other parts of the body. This approach normally requires periodic “top up” injections 4, p.329.

Both techniques are currently rarely used.

What else might I want?

Thyroid chondroplasty is often carried out during surgeries that affect the voice - either to reduce the number of operations required, or because those surgeries would otherwise make the Adam’s apple more apparent.


  1. 1.
    Davies, Shelagh, Papp, Viktória G and Antoni, Christella (2015) “Voice and communication change for gender nonconforming individuals: giving voice to the person inside.” International Journal of Transgenderism, 16(3), pp. 117–159. Link
  2. 2.
    Remacle, Marc, Matar, Nayla, Verduyckt, Ingrid and Lawson, Georges (2010) “Relaxation thyroplasty for mutational falsetto treatment.” Annals of Otology, Rhinology & Laryngology, 119(2), pp. 105–109. Link
  3. 3.
    Kocak, Ismail, Dogan, Muzeyyen, Tadihan, Elcin, Cakir, Zeynep Alkan, et al. (2008) “Window anterior commissure relaxation laryngoplasty in the management of high-pitched voice disorders.” Archives of Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, 134(12), pp. 1263–1269. Link
  4. 4.
    Antoni, Christella (2017) “Vocal, Speech and Language Therapy,” in Bouman, W. P. and Arcelus, J. (eds.), The Transgender Handbook: A Guide for Transgender People, Their Families and Professionals, Nova Science Publishers Inc, pp. 319–331. Link


This page is illustrated using a photograph by Павел Сорокин available at Pexels.

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