Aesthetic Refinements after Radial Free Flap Phalloplasty: Optimizing the Donor Site and the Phallus

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Abstract

Background:

Phalloplasty with radial forearm flap is the gold standard for female-to-male sex reassignment surgery. However, it leaves a stigmatizing forearm scar, and as the new phallus is created with the forearm’s skin and fat, it does not look like that of a biological man. The aesthetic appearance of the donor site and the neophallus can be optimized after phalloplasty. In this study, we review refinement techniques (RTs) performed after radial forearm flap phalloplasty.

Methods:

We present a historical cohort of patients who underwent the following RTs: forearm fat grafting and localized laser in the forearm’s scars, and micropigmentation of the neophallus. Patient’s aesthetic satisfaction was evaluated using the Patient and Observer Scar Assessment Scale for the forearm’s refinements and the Male Genital Self-Image Scale for the neophallus.

Results:

Between January 2014 and January 2016, 8 patients underwent forearm fat grafting with localized laser, and 7 patients micropigmentation of the neophallus after radial flap phalloplasties. All Patient and Observer Scar Assessment Scale parameters showed a statistically significant reduction between preoperative and postoperative values. Male Genital Self-Image Scale survey showed that all patients felt positively about their genitals after micropigmentation. Patients who underwent refinement procedures were highly satisfied with the aesthetic outcome and felt more confident. They also claim that they would choose to have the refinement procedure done again.

Conclusions:

The proposed RTs are minimally invasive interventions to complement and enhance female-to-male sex reassignment surgery with very few complications and excellent aesthetic results of both the forearm scars and the constructed phallus.

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