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Gender Surgery in Adolescents and Young Adults: A Review of Ethical and Surgical Considerations

Robinson, Isabel S; Carswell, Jeremi M; Boskey, Elizabeth; Agarwal, Cori A; Brassard, Pierre; Bélanger, Maud; Zhao, Lee C; Bluebond-Langner, Rachel
BACKGROUND:The incidence of transgender adolescents seeking gender affirming surgery (GAS) in increasing. Surgical care of the adolescent transgender patient is associated with several unique technical, legal, and ethical factors. The authors present a review of the current literature on gender affirming surgery for individuals under the age of legal majority and propose directions for future research. METHODS:A scoping review of recent literature was performed to assess evidence on gender affirming surgery in individuals under the age of legal majority. Papers were included that examined either ethical or technical factors unique to pediatric GAS. Study characteristics and conclusions were analyzed in conjunction with expert opinion. RESULTS:Twelve papers were identified meeting inclusion criteria. Ten of these papers discussed ethical challenges in adolescent GAS, seven papers discussed legal challenges, and five papers discussed technical challenges. Ethical discussions focused on the principles of beneficence, nonmaleficence, and autonomy. Legal discussions centered on informed consent and insurance coverage. Technical discussions focused on the impact of puberty blockade on natal tissue. CONCLUSIONS:Surgical care of the adolescent transgender patient involves important ethical, legal, and technical considerations that must be addressed by the clinical team. As the population of individuals seeking GAS after puberty blockade increases, future research is needed describing functional and psychosocial outcomes in these individuals.
PMID: 36827481
ISSN: 1529-4242
CID: 5434082

Perioperative Hormone Management in Gender-Affirming Mastectomy: Is Stopping Testosterone Before Top Surgery Really Necessary?

Robinson, Isabel S; Rifkin, William J; Kloer, Carmen; Parker, Augustus; Blasdel, Gaines; Shaker, Nabeel; Zhao, Lee C; Bluebond-Langner, Rachel
BACKGROUND:Gender-affirming mastectomy, or "top surgery," has become one of the most frequently performed procedures for transgender and nonbinary patients. However, management of perioperative testosterone therapy remains controversial. Despite a lack of supporting evidence, many surgeons require cessation of testosterone prior to top surgery. This represents the first study to compare complication rates in patients undergoing gender-affirming mastectomy with and without discontinuation of perioperative testosterone. METHODS:Retrospective review identified patients undergoing top surgery by the senior author between 2017 and 2020. Reflecting a change in the senior author's practice, prior to May 2019, all patients were required to discontinue testosterone prior to surgery, while all patients treated after this point continued their testosterone regimens throughout the perioperative period. Patients were stratified according to testosterone regimen and perioperative hormone management, with demographics and postoperative outcomes compared between groups. RESULTS:490 patients undergoing gender-affirming mastectomy during the study period were included. Testosterone was held perioperatively in 175 patients and continued in 211 patients, while 104 patients never received testosterone therapy. Demographics were similar between groups, and there was no difference in rates of hematoma (2.9% vs. 2.8% vs 2.9% respectively, p=0.99), seroma (1.1% vs. 0% vs 1%, p=0.31), venous thromboembolism (0% vs. 0.5% vs 0%, p=0.99), or overall complications (6.9% vs. 4.3% vs 5.8%, p=0.54). CONCLUSIONS:Our results demonstrate no difference in postoperative complication rates between groups. While further investigation is warranted, our data suggest that routine cessation of testosterone in the perioperative period is not necessary for patients undergoing gender-affirming mastectomy.
PMID: 36374270
ISSN: 1529-4242
CID: 5384732

Mending the Gap: AlloDerm as a Safe and Effective Option for Vaginal Canal Lining in Revision Robotic Assisted Gender Affirming Peritoneal Flap Vaginoplasty

Parker, Augustus; Brydges, Hilliard; Blasdel, Gaines; Bluebond-Langner, Rachel; Zhao, Lee C.
Objective: To address instances when there is insufficient remnant tissue to perform revision following canal-deepening gender affirming vaginoplasty revisions as indicated by insufficient depth. Options for lining of the vaginal canal include skin grafts, peritoneal flaps, or intestinal segment. Our center uses robotically harvested peritoneal flaps in vaginal canal revisions. When the peritoneal flap is insufficient for full canal coverage, we use AlloDerm, an acellular dermal matrix, for additional coverage. Methods: Retrospective analysis of 9 patients who underwent revision RPV with AlloDerm was performed. Tubularized AlloDerm grafts were used to connect remnant vaginal lining to the peritoneal flaps. Revision indications, surgical and patient outcomes, and patient-reported post-op dilation were recorded. Results: Nine patients underwent revision RPV using AlloDerm for canal deepening. Median follow-up was 368 days (Range 186-550). Following revision, median depth and width at last follow-up were 12.1 cm and 3.5 cm, and median increase in depth and width were 9.7 cm and 0.9 cm, respectively. There were no intraoperative complications. Two patients had focal areas of excess AlloDerm that were treated with in-office excision without compromise of the caliber or depth of the otherwise healed, epithelialized canal. Conclusion: AlloDerm is an off-the-shelf option that does not require a secondary donor site. The use of AlloDerm for a pilot cohort of patients lacking sufficient autologous tissue for revision RPV alone was demonstrated to be safe and effective at a median 1-year follow-up.
ISSN: 0090-4295
CID: 5424392

"Discussion: Mastectomy with an elliptical excision below the nipple-areolar complex."

Salibian, Ara A; Gonzalez, Eduardo; Frey, Jordan D; Bluebond-Langner, Rachel
PMID: 35819979
ISSN: 1529-4242
CID: 5269102

Improving Access to Genital Gender-Affirming Surgery-The Need for Comprehensive Gender Health Centers of Excellence

Stranix, John T; Bluebond-Langner, Rachel
PMID: 35793116
ISSN: 2168-6262
CID: 5280402

Hematoma following gender-affirming mastectomy: A systematic review of the evidence

Bekisz, Jonathan M; Boyd, Carter J; Daar, David A; Cripps, Courtney N; Bluebond-Langner, Rachel
BACKGROUND:Hematomas are reported to be the most common immediate complication in patients undergoing gender-affirming mastectomy, with rates substantially higher than those associated with other types of breast surgery. This study sought to examine the breadth of current literature and provide evidence-based explanations regarding the development of hematomas in chest masculinizing surgery and technical considerations for reducing their incidence. METHODS:A systematic review was conducted to identify all articles related to gender-affirming mastectomy published through September 2021. Literature search yielded 2,661 articles for screening, of which 20 met inclusion criteria. Themes from the selected articles were compiled to generate consensus statements qualified by associated level of evidence (LOE). RESULTS:The rate of hematoma following gender-affirming mastectomy is reported in the literature ranging from 0% to 31.2%. The use of more limited, nipple-sparing incisions is associated with a higher hematoma rate than mastectomy with free nipple grafting (Level III). There is no conclusive evidence indicating any relationship between the use of masculinizing hormones and the incidence of hematoma (Level IV). Factors such as body mass index (Level III) and breast size (Level III) were not found to influence hematoma risk, though nicotine use (Level IV) was significantly associated with the incidence of hematoma. CONCLUSIONS:Hematoma is a known complication following gender-affirming mastectomy. The use of limited incision approaches has the strongest association with an increased risk of hematoma. There is no evidence indicating an association between hormone use (i.e., testosterone) and hematoma incidence. Future studies are needed to better define factors, interventions, and protocols to reduce the rate of hematoma. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE/METHODS:III.
PMID: 35725957
ISSN: 1878-0539
CID: 5281882

Recommendations for Communication in Gender-Affirming Surgical Care

Blasdel, Gaines; Parker, Augustus C; Salibian, Ara; Robinson, Isabel; Zhao, Lee C; Bluebond-Langner, Rachel
SUMMARY:The surgical treatment of gender incongruence with gender-affirming surgery requires a sophisticated understanding of the substantial diversity in patient expectations and desired outcomes. There are patients with gender incongruence who desire surgical intervention to achieve the conventional bodily configuration typical for cisgender men and women and those who desire surgery without the goal of typical cisgender presentation. Proper communication regarding diverse expectations poses a challenge to those unfamiliar with the nuances of this heterogeneous population; such difficulties have led to mistakes during patient care. Based on the lessons learned from these experiences, the authors provide conceptual recommendations with specific examples to account for cultural context and conceptions of gender within surgical practice and scientific research.
PMID: 35674659
ISSN: 1529-4242
CID: 5275902

"Familiar Infections in Novel Anatomy: Patient Reports of Sexually Transmitted Infections After Gender Affirming Penile Reconstruction"

Blasdel, Gaines; Robinson, Isabel; Parker, Augustus; Zhao, Lee C; Bluebond-Langner, Rachel
BACKGROUND:Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) following penile reconstruction in transgender, nonbinary, and other gender expansive (T/GE) populations has not previously been described, despite known risk factors in the population. Following T/GE penile reconstruction, care providers may underdiagnose STI without anatomically appropriate guidelines. METHODS:A detailed anonymous online survey of experiences of T/GE penile reconstruction patients was constructed with community input. Respondents were recruited from online support groups. RESULTS:128 T/GE people with experience of penile reconstruction responded to an anonymous survey posted in online support groups January to May 2020. Seven respondents (5.5%) self-reported one or more of the listed STIs at any point after penile reconstruction. All respondents with neourethras were diagnosed with localized STIs in nonurethral (extrapenile) locations only, and lack of vaginectomy was correlated with STI (p = 0.002). STIs were correlated with reporting sex with cisgender men (p = 0.001), transgender men (p = 0.009), and transgender women (p = 0.012). Of healthcare access variables, only receiving healthcare at a Community Health Center was correlated with STI history (p = 0.003). CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:This exploratory survey indicates STI occurs after penile reconstruction in T/GE patients. Clinical confirmation is needed to identify specific risk factors and relative susceptibility of post-reconstruction anatomy to STIs. Given no previous surveillance recommendations for this population and the correlation of healthcare provider location with STI prevalence, underdiagnoses are likely. Based on the authors' clinical experience, we describe a urogenital screening algorithm following gender affirming penile reconstruction.
PMID: 35171129
ISSN: 1537-4521
CID: 5163472

External Genital Revisions after Gender-Affirming Penile Inversion Vaginoplasty: Surgical Assessment, Techniques, and Outcomes

Dy, Geolani W; Salibian, Ara; Blasdel, Gaines; Zhao, Lee C; Bluebond-Langner, Rachel
BACKGROUND:Following gender-affirming penile inversion vaginoplasty or vulvoplasty, patients may seek vulvar revision procedures for a variety of common aesthetic and functional concerns. These indications for revision and accompanying techniques are not well-described in the literature. METHODS:Patients who underwent vulvar revision surgery at the authors' institution were identified, and patient demographics, surgical indications, operative details, and complications were described. Common complaints requiring external genital revision were sorted into four categories: clitoral, labial, introital, and urethral. RESULTS:Thirty-five patients with a history of vaginoplasty underwent vulvar revision between May of 2017 and December of 2019. The mean age at surgical correction was 38.9 years. Ten patients (28.6 percent) had undergone prior secondary procedures (range, 1 to 3). Mean follow-up after revision surgery was 10.7 ± 8.7 months (range, 0 to 30.6 months). The majority of patients underwent concurrent revisions in multiple "categories". Labial aesthetic concerns were most common (n = 27, 77.1 percent), followed by clitoral (n = 20, 57.1 percent), urologic (n = 17, 48.6 percent), and introital complaints (n = 12, 34.3 percent). Twelve patients (34.3 percent) had canal stenosis requiring concurrent robot-assisted canal revision with peritoneal flaps. Complications included labial abscess (n = 1) and deep vein thrombosis (n = 1). Three patients (8.6 percent) underwent subsequent external genital revisions. Management approaches and surgical techniques for each of these common revision categories are provided. CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:As more individuals seek vaginoplasty and vulvoplasty, surgeons must be prepared to address a range of common aesthetic and functional complaints requiring vulvar revision. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE/METHODS:Therapeutic, IV.
PMID: 35426889
ISSN: 1529-4242
CID: 5204482

Discussion: Common Revisions after Penile Inversion Vaginoplasty: Techniques and Clinical Outcomes [Comment]

Shakir, Nabeel A; Zhao, Lee C; Bluebond-Langner, Rachel
PMID: 35613292
ISSN: 1529-4242
CID: 5244712