What is a vaginoplasty and what are the various techniques used? This section provides more information about vaginoplasty, what the procedure entails, and what to expect after the operation.
(1) Penile inversion vaginoplasty
(2) Penile inversion vaginoplasty with skin grafting
(3) Bowel vaginoplasty
Complications and risks during and after surgery
- Bleeding: This may occur immediately following the operation. If the bleeding does not stop on its own, a second operation may be necessary.
- Infection: Although surgical procedures are done in a clean and sterile way, there is always a chance of bacteria entering the wound. In the period following the procedure, there is also a risk of infection. That is why it is so important to take good care of the wound.
- Blood suffusion (haematoma): Some blood may accumulate in the surgical area, which may give the area a slightly blue or purple appearance, like a bruise. This will go away by itself after 2 to 4 weeks.
- Fluid retention (oedema or seroma): Fluid may also accumulate in the surgical area. If this starts to feel uncomfortable, the fluid can be removed by your physician.
- Badly healing wound edges (wound dehiscence): After the operation, the wounds may not heal immediately, and the would edges may open up a little. Should this happen, we recommend that you rinse the wound thoroughly with running water and, if necessary, contact your physician.
- Necrosis: If there is insufficient perfusion in part or all of the skin, tissue will die off. This is what is known as wound necrosis. Sometimes, poor circulation can already be observed during the operation, in which case the surgeon will improve the circulation. Smokers have an increased risk of this type of complication. Whether or not another operation is necessary will depend on the severity of the skin loss.
- Bowel problems – constipation: The intestines come to a halt or become blocked, so that the contents can no longer be moved. This may be a symptom of what is called an ileus. Usually, medication can help to restore bowel movement. It is also important to drink enough fluids and to exercise.
- Hypergranulation: Hypergranulation is a common problem. It is benign, but does involve a sizeable loss of fluids or blood. It may also have a certain odour and be painful, but it is easy to treat.
- Bowel problems — perforation: A small hole may appear in the rectum. If this is noticed during the operation, it can be treated immediately. Sometimes, this is discovered at a later stage. A small hole will usually heal by itself. If a perforation of the rectum leads to long-term complaints, another operated will be required.
- Urethra problems: Some weeks or months after surgery, narrowing (i.e. stenosis) of the urethra exit may occur. As a result, some people find it more difficult to urinate: the stream becomes weaker and they have to exert more pressure. Stenoses are treated by regular stretching over several weeks or months; in some cases, surgery may be required.
- Loss of feeling/orgasm: you may loose all or some sensation in your genitals. Whether or not sensation will be restored is uncertain.
- Scarring: The growth in scarring tissue differs per person, skin type and surgical method. People and skin types all heal in their own way. Being overweight or a smoker means that wounds will heal less pretty than in healthy non-smokers. Sometimes, a scar can be corrected (one year or more after the operation).
Possible complications following bowel vaginoplasty
- Bowel problems – wound leakage. With bowel vaginoplasty, it is possible that the sections of intestine that have been joined together do not heal properly and cause leakage, which results in faecal matter entering the abdominal cavity. This soon causes abdominal pain and fever, in the first 2 to 3 days after surgery. This requires urgent surgery to repair the leakage.
This text was edited on 14-10-2022
We recommend that you go through all the information step by step to get a complete picture of the different treatment options and the process around them!
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What does the recovery period look like after being discharged from the hospital? Here, you can read about the best way to take care of yourself and what you can do to speed up the healing process.