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Genital reconstructive surgery usually refers to an operation to correct birth defects or malformations in the genital area caused by trauma or disease. This type of surgery might also be called intersex surgery, designed to correct defects in infants born with ambiguous external sex organs. Sex reassignment surgery represents another form of genital reconstructive surgery chosen by transgender or transsexual individuals. Genital reconstructive surgery might be sought for cosmetic reasons, while other operations might allow normal sexual functioning.
Intersex genital reconstructive surgery might be performed on infants, children, or adults born with birth defects. In females, surgery might reduce the size of the clitoris, create an opening for menstruation, and remove testes. Operations on baby boys might treat undescended testicles and open a path in the penis for urination. These surgeries typically aim to make genitalia appear normal in a child born with sex organs that fail to develop as strictly male or female.
Transsexual genital reconstructive surgery might transform the appearance of sex organs from female to male. Penile implants and creating a scrotum from tissue taken from elsewhere on the body represent two common procedures. Saline or gel implants placed into the new scrotum commonly occurs in female-to-male genital reconstructive surgery. These operations might include creating a penis from tissue taken from the mouth or vagina. An implanted rod or pump device might allow erections if microsurgery successfully reconnects blood vessels and nerves.
Gender reassignment genital reconstructive surgery for men might include using part of the penis containing nerve endings to create a clitoris. This might allow a male-to-female transsexual to retain sensation and the ability to reach orgasm. Surgery might also include using tissue from the penis or scrotum to create a vagina. When this tissue is not suitable, part of the colon might be used to fashion a vagina. Transplanted tissue might also serve as inner and outer vaginal lips.
Genital reconstructive surgery might also be sought for purely cosmetic reasons. Some men are born with the urine opening on the underside of the penis, or a penis that curves. Obese men might notice their penises are not visible because they are surrounded by fat. Surgeries to correct these defects are typically performed by a plastic surgeon.
A woman might want an operation to tighten a vagina stretched by childbirth. Other reconstructive procedures might reduce the size of the pubic region, an operation called labiaplasty, when it causes an unsightly bulge through clothing. Excess fat might also be removed through liposuction.
I have a family member who recently had a child with ambiguous genitals; they believe he is a male. What types of questions should the mother ask the doctors?
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