Gender-confirmation surgeries—the name given to procedures that change the physical appearance and function of sexual characteristics—increased by 20 percent from 2015 to 2016 in the U.S., with more than 3,000 such operations performed last year. Rates are also increasing worldwide. Now, at least one surgeon is reporting a trend of regret.
Urologist Miroslav Djordjevic, who specializes in gender reassignment surgery, has seen an increase in “reversal” surgeries among transgender women who want their male genitalia back. In the past five years, Djordjevic performed seven reversals in his clinic in Belgrade, Serbia. The urologist explains to The Telegraph that those who want the reversal display high levels of depression, and in some instances, suicidal thoughts. Other researchers also report hearing about such regrets.
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“It can be a real disaster to hear these stories,” Djordjevic told The Telegraph.
Charles Kane, who identified as Sam Hashimi after male-to-female reassignment surgery, opted to become a man again after experiencing “hormonal regret.” In the BBC documentary One Life: Make Me a Man Again, Kane explained he originally wanted to become a woman after a nervous breakdown.
“When I was in the psychiatric hospital, there was a man on one side of me who thought he was King George and another guy on the other side who thought he was Jesus Christ. I decided I was Sam,” Kane said.
Postsurgery, Kane believed his female identity would never be liked or accepted as a real woman. He also blamed the influence of female hormones as responsible for making him seek the surgery. “I don’t think there’s anyone born transsexual. Areas of their human brain get altered by female hormones,” Kane told Nightline.
Kane’s insight may not be applicable to all transgender patients seeking reversal surgery. Djordjevic expresses concern about the psychiatric evaluation and counseling that take place prior to the gender reassignment surgery. He recalls patients telling him that when they inquired about the procedure at other clinics, they receive minimal information before being asked for proof that they could pay for the operation.
In Djordjevic’s practice, patients undergo a minimum of one to two years of psychiatric evaluation, accompanied by hormonal evaluation and therapy. Prior to the surgery, he asks patients for two professional letters of recommendation. After the procedure, he strives to remain in contact—he talks with 80 percent of his former patients, The Telegraph reports.
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A 2011 study found that after sex reassignment surgery, more than 300 Swedish transsexuals faced a higher risk for mortality, suicide ideation, and psychiatric issues compared to the rest of the population. The researchers concluded, “Our findings suggest that sex reassignment, although alleviating gender dysphoria, may not suffice as treatment for transsexualism, and should inspire improved psychiatric and somatic care after sex reassignment for this patient group.”
In male-to-female reassignment surgery, doctors will reshape the male genitals in the form of a vagina. The surgery also includes removing the testicles and an inversion of the penis. In female-to-male procedures, doctors remove the breasts, uterus and ovaries and extend the urethra so a transgender man can urinate standing up. Male-to-female reassignments are more common because they are considered less expensive and more successful.
Gender reassignment surgeries are expensive. Male-to-female procedures cost between $7,000 and $24,000, and the cost of female-to-male procedures can reach $50,000. The complications and the expense warrant extra care from doctors performing these reassignments. “Ethically, we have to help any person,” says Djordjevic, “in the best possible way.”
GENDER REASSIGNMENT SURGERY (GRS)
WHAT IS MTF GENDER REASSIGNMENT SURGERY?
MTF Gender Reassignment Surgery (GRS) is the male to female procedure is for transgender women who wish to have the vagina they should have been born with.
WHAT SHOULD I KNOW ABOUT GENDER REASSIGNMENT SURGERY?
Dr. Rumer performs a One-Stage Modified Penile Inversion Vaginoplasty. Having a strong background in engineering and fine arts, she is able to design a result that has an authentic appearance with excellent depth, function and sensation – a result perfectly suited to your anatomy. In addition, Dr. Rumer’s GRS technique does not require electrolysis or laser hair removal of the genital area before surgery and there is NO regrowth.
WHAT DOES THE PROCEDURE INVOLVE?
GRS is done while you are asleep under general anesthesia. It takes approximately four hours to perform. Following your surgery, you will be admitted to the hospital for three days of strict bed rest while your new vagina heals. After the three days of bed rest, you will be discharged with a catheter in your bladder, some vaginal packing and two drains. One week from your surgery, you will return to the office in order to have the catheter, vaginal packing and drains removed. At that time you will be given your dilators with full instructions on the dilation schedule and lifetime instructions for the care of your new vagina.
HOW LONG IS RECOVERY AND WHEN CAN I RESUME MY NORMAL ACTIVITIES?
Patients are asked to rest and relax for the first week after MTF Gender Reassignment Surgery. It is very important to diligently follow your dilation schedule to maximize your results. After the first follow-up visit, patients can begin to get back to normal daily activities, but strenuous activity is not recommended until six weeks after surgery.
Also see:Comparing Penile Inversion and Rectosigmoid Vaginoplasty, Breast Augmentation, Facial Feminization, Body Contouring