A sex reassignment surgery is a major procedure that comes with significant risks. All patients are informed of these risks prior to the surgery. Apart from medical risks, the surgery also has some limitations, which should also be explained in detail to the patient before he or she provides consent for the surgery and all preceding treatments involved.
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Some of the risks of the sex reassignment procedure are due to the hormone therapy itself. These include:
. High blood pressure
. Sleep apnea
. Heart disease
. Tumors affecting the pituitary gland
. Uncontrolled weight gain
. High levels of liver enzymes
. Blood clots
. Feelings of uncertainty and confusion
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Thus, people undergoing hormone therapy need to be constantly supervised by a medical professional, especially during the first months of the process, so that the effects of the hormones can be properly monitored.
Also, patients undergoing either hormone therapy or sex change surgery will benefit from ongoing counseling or continuous visits to their endocrinologist, a medical specialist focusing on the body’s hormones.
Also, it is important for patients to understand that the decision to pursue sex change surgery is a major and, in many cases, irreversible, so it should not be made lightly. The decision of the patient should be backed by the surgeon or psychologist handling his or her case. This is the reason why patients are required to undergo at least 12 months of hormone therapy before they are allowed to undergo a sex change surgery.
The surgery itself comes with the following risks, which depend on whether the patient is a male transitioning to female, or vice versa.
Read more about : Requirements for gender reassignment surgery
. Death of the tissue that is used to create the vagina and vulva; this tissue is usually taken from the scrotum and penis
. Fistulas, which are abnormal connections between the vagina and the bladder or the bowels
. Narrowing of the urethra, which, in severe cases, can obstruct urine flow and increase a person’s risk of kidney damage. There's no guarantee that fertility will return to normal if hormones are stopped.
. Narrowing of the urinary tract with the same increased risk to the kidneys
. Death of the tissue in the newly formed penis
The risks are heightened in the case of women changing into men by having a new penis reconstructed. The increased risk is due to the many different stages of the surgery as well as the high rate of technical difficulties encountered so far in such surgeries. Due to this, some women only opt for the removal of their uterus and ovaries, and choose to forego phalloplasty.
Complications and risks can also be avoided by choosing minor sex change procedures, such as mastectomies for women who want to get rid of their breasts or breast augmentation for men who want to increase their breast size. Most patients feel that these procedures are enough and thus don’t feel the need to have their sexual genitals reconstructed. This is because breast augmentations and mastectomies can be reversed in case they change their mind after the procedures are done.
. Undergoing sex change surgery is easy. But to completely fit into the role of a different gender takes a longer span of time, generally, a few years.
. You will need to undergo therapy before and after the surgery to help you change your sex mentally, and to adjust to other’s opinion of you based on your sex.
. The surgery changes your genitalia. However, the hormones that determine secondary sexual characteristics such as your voice and hair growth are not affected by the surgery.