Transgender vaginoplasty

This medical option is a kind of bottom surgery that involves the creation or reshaping of the vagina. Vaginoplasty is sometimes performed to revise vaginal anomalies and congenital conditions such as absence of a vagina at birth, as well as to repair the area following disease or injury.

As with other procedures, like plastic surgery of the nose (rhinoplasty), vaginoplasty may be undertaken for functional reasons, aesthetic reasons, or a combination of the two.

Vaginoplasty evokes very strong emotional responses (both pro and con) far more often than more common procedures like rhinoplasty. There is considerable controversy regarding surgery on some patients, notably children with “ambiguous genitalia” who have no pressing medical or functional need.

For our community

In some jurisdictions, bottom surgery like vaginoplasty is required by law in order for trans people to make legal changes to identity documents.

Some people in our community choose bilateral orchiectomy prior to or instead of vaginoplasty. Other choose a vulvoplasty, also called a zero-depth vaginoplasty instead of a traditional vaginoplasty. A labiaplasty involves reshaping the external genitalia and can either be done at the same time or as part of a two-stage operation a few months apart.

The most common vaginoplasty technique performed on women in our community uses tissue from the existing genitalia to create the vagina (the penile inversion technique), although in some cases the lack of tissue may require additional skin grafts taken from the buttocks or near the hip bones. Some surgeons use a two-stage procedure which includes a labiaplasty at a later time. A more complicated procedure using a segment of colon (colovaginoplasty) may be performed if there is very little existing tissue to use, although the complexity of the procedure and higher complication rates make it a less preferable option in most cases.

Terminology

When performed on women in our community, the procedure has been given many suggested names over the years:

  • sex reassignment surgery (SRS)
  • sexual reassignment surgery
  • sex change operation
  • “the operation”
  • genital reassignment surgery
  • genital modification
  • genital plastic surgery
  • gender reassignment surgery (GRS)
  • genital reconstruction surgery
  • genital repurposing surgery
  • gender reinforcement surgery
  • gender affirmation surgery
  • gender confirmation surgery
  • gender affirming vaginoplasty (GAV)

These terms each have nuances in meaning that are simultaneously useful and problematic (to be discussed at length in the future). To avoid these semantic and political issues, this section uses the medical term for this procedure except when citing the works of others.

Practitioners

North America

See also: Transgender surgery in the United States

Europe

  • James Bellringer (London, UK)
  • Paul Jean Daverio (Potsdam, Germany)
  • Michael Krueger (Potsdam, Germany)
  • Jesús Sáenz de Cabezón y Chico (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Jorge Sáenz de Cabezón y Martí (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Timothy Terry (University Hospital, Leicester
  • Philip Thomas (Hove/Brighton, UK)
  • Jiri Vesely (Brno, Czechoslovakia)

Asia/Pacific

No longer active

See historic gender surgeons.

Dedication

This section of Transgender Map is dedicated to the fond memory of Fran Kern. Fran was a personal assistant for Dr. Toby Meltzer‘s recovering patients, who passed away on December 24, 1998. Those whose lives she touched with her caring and compassion will not forget the kindness that emanated from her.

Disclaimer: This is medical talk, not medical advice. Some of this may not apply to you. It is presented without warranty. It may contain errors or omissions. You must do your own research.