A transgender woman, known only as Maju, has become the first transgender person in the world to get a gender reassignment surgery using the skin of tilapia fish. This is an innovative new technique that could radically change the lives of people with numerous different anatomical concerns.
Maju has lived her life as a transgender individual since 1999, but has faced numerous complications following a botched sex change surgery, which has forced her into a life of celibacy because sex has been so painful.
“I was the fourth person in Brazil in 1999 to have, what was then, experimental surgery. But ten years ago I developed vaginal stenosis. The opening of my vagina started to get narrower and shorter and the canal collapsed,” Maju explained.
Luckily, Maju was able to find a surgeon in Fortaleza, north-east Brazil, who was working on an experimental treatment using fish membranes to recreate a vagina, so she rushed in for a consultation.
Surgeons at the Federal University of Ceará and led by Professor Leonardo Bezerra, are carrying out a radical new procedure that uses fish skin to create a new body part / Photo Credit: Viktor Braga, UFC / Focus On News, The Daily Mail
The surgeon’s work was usually focused on biologically born women who were born without vaginas, however, Maju became the doctor’s first transgender patient.
The procedure is called a neovaginoplasty, and in the operation, the surgeon creating an incision in the vagina region and then implants a receptacle that is lined with tilapia skin.
The fish skin is not what remains after the surgery is over, in fact, it is actually absorbed into the body, which speeds up the healing process, and transforms the new area into a replica of a vaginal canal.
Just a month after the surgery, Maju was in good spirits, and the doctors believe that her new body parts could be fully operational in just a few months. Maju says that she finally feels whole after many years of depression and anxiety about her body.
An up close look at the tilapia fish skin that is used to reconstruct human vaginas / Photo Credit: Viktor Braga, UFC / Focus On News, The Daily Mail
“I’m absolutely thrilled with the result. For the first time in my life I feel complete and like a real woman,” Maju said.
Maju underwent the procedure at the Federal University of Ceará and the operation was overseen by Professor Leonardo Bezerra.
“We were able to create a vagina of physiological length, both in thickness and by enlarging it, and the patient has recovered extremely well. She is walking around with ease, has no pain and is urinating normally. In a couple of months we believe she will be able to have sexual intercourse,” Professor Bezerra told the Daily Mail.
The procedure took just three hours, and the fish skin only stays in the body for about 6 days as it is absorbed by the skin. However, the area will need to be bandaged for at least six months to prevent any further complications, and to prevent the area from closing up.
Maju, a transgender woman from Brazil, became the first transgender person to receive a gender reassignment surgery using this new procedure. / Photo Credit: Viktor Braga, UFC / Focus On News, The Daily Mail
According to Professor Bezerra, Maju’s previous condition is sadly common among people who underwent gender reassignment surgery in the early days of the technology.
“In the traditional procedure, most of the inside parts of the penis are removed and the penile skin is folded into the space between the urethra and the rectum. The outside skin of the penis then becomes the inside of the vagina. But because the patient has had hormonal treatment to develop female characteristics, there is penile and testicle atrophy resulting in shrinkage in the size of the penis caused from the loss of tissue. This means the vagina can also be small,” Bezerra explained.
Bezerra said that Maju’s procedure was especially complicated.
“The presence of these leftovers of the penis aggravated the closure of the vaginal tract, worsening the symptoms. The great benefit of our technique is it’s minimally invasive and there’s no need to do abdominal incisions,” Bezerra said.