Phalloplasty is the construction or reconstruction of a penis, or the artificial modification of the penis by surgery. The term 'phalloplasty' is also occasionally used to refer to penis enlargement.
The first phalloplasty done for the purposes of sexual reassignment was performed on Michael Dillon, a trans man, in 1946 by Harold Gillies, which is documented in Pagan Kennedy's book The First Man-Made Man.
Russian surgeon Nikolaj Bogoraz performed the first reconstruction of a total penis using rib cartilage in a reconstructed phallus made from a tubed abdominal flap in 1936. The first female to male gender reassignment procedure was performed in 1946 by Sir Harold Gillies on fellow physician Michael Dillon, and his technique remained the standard one for decades. Later improvements in microsurgery made more techniques available.
A complete construction or reconstruction of a penis can be performed on patients who:
Main article: Penile implant
Phalloplasty requires an implanted penile prosthesis to achieve an erection. Penile prostheses are implanted devices intended to restore the erectile rigidity in cisgender men and to build a neophallus (new penis) in transgender patients. Penile implants have been used in phalloplasty surgeries both in cisgender and transgender patients since 1970s.
There are two main types of penile implants – malleable and inflatable implants. Both types have a pair of cylinders implanted into the penis, replacing the non-erectile tissue in cisgender men and serving as the core for the neophallus in the phalloplasty procedure. The cylinder of the inflatable implant is filled with sterile saline solution. Pumping saline into the chambers of this cylinder produces an erection. The glans of the penis, however, remains unaffected. In sex reassignment surgeries, a new penis is formed with the use of penile implant surrounded with a tissue flap. The pump unit of inflatable penile implants resembles a human testicle and can serve as an artificial testicle for concomitant scrotoplasty. Initially, standard penile implants were used in phalloplasty procedures. However, since there is no corpus cavernosum in the penis undergoing phalloplasty, and the fact that standard penile implants were designed to be implanted in corpus cavernosum, there were many adverse outcomes. Since 2015, Zephyr Surgical Implants proposes malleable and inflatable penile implants particularly designed for phalloplasty surgeries. Implantation procedures are usually done in a separate surgery to allow time for proper healing.
An operation using the forearm as a donor site is the easiest to perform, but results in a cosmetically undesirable scar on the exposed area of the arm. Arm function may be hampered if the donor site does not heal properly. Electrolysis and/or laser hair reduction is required for a relatively hairless neophallus.
Sometimes a full-scale metoidioplasty is done a few months before the actual phalloplasty to reduce the possibility of complications after phalloplasty. Sensation is retained through the clitoral tissue at the base of the neophallus, and surgeons will often attempt to connect nerves together from the clitoris or nearby. Nerves from the flap and the tissue it has been attached to may eventually connect. This does not necessarily guarantee the ability to achieve genital orgasm after healing, as the most important task of nerve reconnection is to ensure the penis is able to sense injury, but it is rare to lose the ability to orgasm.
The following explanation of this technique has many similarities to other approaches, but the construction of the glans differs.
If the patient chooses to have the urethra extended to the glans of the neophallus, it is formed by the following steps:
A relatively new technique involving a flap from the side of the chest under the armpit (known as a musculocutaneous latissimus dorsi free transfer flap) is a step forward in phalloplasty. The advantages of this technique over the older forearm flap technique include:
The disadvantages include:
This is a three-part surgery that takes place over a period of six to nine months. The steps consist of:
Neophallus creation using MLD free flap
During initial recovery, the neophallus is protected from contact with other tissues with a specially constructed dressing as to avoid blood supply complications.
After three months, urethroplasty (urethral extension) is performed.
After another three to six months, a device that allows an erection can be inserted.
The lower leg operation is similar to a forearm flap with the exception that the donor scar is easily covered with a sock and/or pants and hidden from view. Other details are the same as forearm flap, especially the need for permanent hair removal before the operation. A flap from the leg or another area where the scar is less noticeable may be combined with free forearm flap to create the urethral lengthening or to sculpt the glans penis.
The flap location is around the pelvic bone, usually running across the abdomen under the belly button. As such, there is a large horizontal scar that may not be aesthetically acceptable. The flap has a less natural appearance and may not maintain an erectile implant long term. Electrolysis is required before surgery with the alternative being clearing of hair via shaving or chemical depilatory.
This technique was pioneered by Sir Harold Delf Gillies as one of the first competent phalloplasty techniques. It was simply a flap of abdominal skin rolled into a tube to simulate a penis, with urethral extension being another section of skin to create a "tube within a tube." Early erectile implants consisted of a flexible rod. A later improvement involved the inclusion of a blood supply pedicle which was left in place to prevent tissue death before it was transplanted to the groin. Most latter techniques involve tissues with attached pedicle.
Skin grafted muscle flaps have fallen from popularity. This procedure is a minimum of 3 steps and involves implantation of an expansion balloon to facilitate the amount of skin needed for grafting. The grafts have a less natural appearance and are less likely to maintain an erectile implant long term.
This phalloplasty procedure involves the insertion of a subcutaneous soft silicone implant under the penile skin.
The no-touch surgical technique for penile prosthesis implantation is a surgical procedure developed by J. Francois Eid for the implantation of a penile implant. Implantation through the use of the "No-Touch" technique minimizes the risk of infection.
As advancements in the design and manufacturing process of the IPP improved its mechanical survival infection has emerged as the leading cause of implant failure. Although relatively infrequent (varying from .06% to 8.9%) infection of a penile prosthesis results in serious medical consequences for the bearer, requiring complete removal of the device and permanent loss of penile size and anatomy. Bacterial contamination of the device occurs during the surgery, and is caused by allowing direct or indirect contact of the prosthesis with the patient's skin. Over 70% of infections form from skin organisms including Staphylococcus epidermis, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus and Candida albicans.
Traditional strategies to combat infections aim at decreasing skin colony count such as scrubbing skin preparation with alcohol and chlorhexidine or kill bacteria once the implant is contaminated by skin flora such as intravenous antibiotics, antibiotic irrigation and antibiotic-coated implants. The "No-Touch" technique is unique in that it aims at preventing bacterial contamination of the prosthesis by completely eliminating contact of the device with the skin.
Paired with the antibiotic-coated implant, the "No Touch" technique decreases infection to a rate of 0.46%, opposing the traditional method which has an infection rate of 5%. The use of an antibiotic-coated implant and a no-touch surgical technique with skin preparation measures and peri-operative antibiotic use has been found to be of high importance in the prevention of infection among penile implants. Eid developed the technique in 2006 on the hypothesis that eliminating any contact between the prosthesis and the skin, either directly or indirectly via surgical instruments or gloves, should reduce the incidence of contamination of the device with skin flora responsible for infection.
Three days prior to the procedure, a patient is placed on oral fluoroquinolone, an antibacterial drug. During this time, the patient scrubs their lower abdomen and genitals daily with chlorhexidine soap. On the day of the surgery, vancomycin and gentamicin are administered intravenously one to two hours prior to the procedure. The lower abdomen and genitals are shaved, scrubbed for five minutes with a chlorhexidine sponge and prepped with chorhexidine/alcohol applicator. The area is then draped with a surgical drape and a Vi Drape over the genitalia. Before the incision is made, a Foley catheter is inserted in the bladder through the urethra.
A 3 cm (1.2 in) scrotal incision is made on the penoscrotal raphe and carried down through the subcutaneous tissue to the Buck's fascia. A Scott retractor, a flexible device that holds open the skin of the surgical site, is applied to the area.
Up until this stage of the surgery, the process has been consistent with the sanitary practices associated with standard surgical sterility. At this stage of the "No-Touch" technique, after the incision has been made, all instruments, including surgical gloves that have touched skin are discarded. A loose drape is then deployed over the entire surgical field and secured at the periphery with adhesive strips. A small opening in the drape is then made overlying the incision and yellow hooks utilized to secure the edges of the opening to the edges of the incision, completely covering and isolating the patient's skin. At this point, new instruments and equipment are replaced and the entire prosthesis is inserted through the small opening of the loose drape. The loose drape allows for manipulation of the penis and scrotum required for this procedure without touching the skin.
Implantation of the device continues with an incision and dilation of corpora, sizing and placing the penile cylinders, and placement of the pump in the scrotum and the reservoir in the retropubic space. Saline is used throughout the implantation for irrigation. Once the corporotomies are closed and all of the tubing and components of the prosthesis covered with a layer of Buck's fascia, subcutaneous tissues are closed and the "No-Touch" drape is removed and the skin closed.
In the future, bioengineering may be used to create fully functional penises.
As phalloplasty has improved over the decades, the risks and complications from surgery have been reduced. However, there is still a possibility of a need for revision surgery to repair incorrect healing.
A study[clarification needed] of postoperative phalloplasty patients showed that on average, 25% had one or more serious complications of the neopenis. The ones reported consisted of:
In the same study, chances of complications of the extended urethra were higher, averaging 55%. The most common complications reported were:
There is also a possibility[original research?] of fat embolism "associated with liposuction and autologous fat transfer, a procedure where fat from liposuction is injected back into the same patient's face, breast, buttocks or penis".