Entries in Genital Surgery (4)


Ohio Woman Still Scarred by 'Love' Doctor's Sex Surgery

Courtesy Cheryl Sexton Dillon(NEW YORK) -- Cheryl Sexton Dillon's life was forever altered at the age of 36 when her doctor recommended a hysterectomy although she only needed minor bladder surgery.

While she was under the knife, he performed a nine-hour operation, relocating her vagina and removing her clitoral hood.  Dillon said she had no idea he would do more than a standard hysterectomy.

Dillon, who in 1984 was a vocational teacher with three children, said afterward, "I thought I would die.  The pain was unlike anything I had ever experienced in places I couldn't understand."

She said even ordinary activities -- like sitting down, wearing pants and riding a horse -- became impossible.  Dillon could no longer have sex without excruciating pain, and despite an understanding husband, her happy marriage eventually fell apart.

The surgeon she trusted, Dr. James C. Burt, an eccentric but respected ob/gyn at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Dayton, Ohio, was a proponent of procedures to redesign women's genitalia.

In his 1975 book, Surgery of Love, he wrote, ''Women are structurally inadequate for intercourse.  This is a pathological condition amenable to surgery.''

From 1966 until the late-1980s when he surrendered his medical license, Burt had performed hundreds of these experimental surgeries on his patients, according to numerous national reports at the time, including one in The New York Times.

In 1988, the Ohio Medical Board cited Burt for alleged "experimental and medical unnecessary surgical procedures, in some incidents without proper patient consent."

And now, Sarah B. Rodriguez, a lecturer in medical humanities at Northwestern University, takes a fresh look at the bizarre case in an article in the November Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Rodriguez said that many doctors knew about these disfiguring surgeries but chose to do nothing about it.

Patients who underwent these procedures have said they thought they were getting surgery for common ailments like incontinence or post-pregnancy repairs.  Many, like Dillon, said they did not sign adequate consents.

According to Rodriguez, St. Elizabeth's began requiring Burt to use a "a special consent form specific to love surgery" in 1979.  By his own admission, he did not always get proper consent for some of his earliest surgeries.

"When I went to [Dr. Burt] and asked, 'What have you done,?' he said, 'What are you talking about?'" said Dillon.  "I found out from other doctors that I had been mutilated."

Burt's son, James C. Burt III, 68, of Los Angeles, defended his father's medical practices in an email to ABC News: "There are hundreds and hundreds of Dr. Burt's patients, alive today, whose marriages and lives were dramatically improved by [his] wholesome restoration to their fully functioning sexual responsiveness, which most of those patients had previously enjoyed earlier in their marriages.

"Until there are those in the media or the medical profession who are willing to look at the successful results, which fully benefited the lives of countless numbers of his patients, there should and will be no further comment on behalf of Dr. Burt or his family," the email continued.

Dr. Burt, now 91, has not been available for comment directly.

Today, at 65, Dillon is writing a book about speaking out against Burt.  She was one of the first to file a malpractice lawsuit in 1985 against both Burt and the hospital where the surgery took place.

"From what I remember, by default I won against Dr. Burt, and got nothing," she said.

Dillon said she settled with St. Elizabeth's Hospital out of court.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Women Are 'Duped' in Quest for Perfect Vagina, Says Doctor

Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Corrective gynecological surgery has been available for decades to help women with incontinence or sagging of the vaginal canal after childbirth.

But experts say thousands of women, especially younger ones, now seek such procedures as vaginoplasty and labiaplasty, which can cost between $3,000 and $10,000 and are not covered by insurance, to enhance the appearance of their genitalia or to achieve some sort of sexual ideal.

The American College of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons reports 2,140 women elected such surgeries in 2010.  The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons says twice as many have been performed in the U.S. annually -- nearly 5,200.

But these numbers might be on the low side.

"We don't know the exact number, because a lot are done at surgery centers and it's hard to keep track," said Dr. Cheryl B. Iglesia, a reconstructive pelvic surgeon and director of the female program at the National Center for Advanced Pelvic Surgery in Washington, D.C.  "There isn't a code that we have.  And people are paying cash up front."

"It's really concerning, because [the trend] is really reaching younger ages, in their teens," Iglesia said.  "I heard of a mother taking in a 16-year-old and 11-year-old wanting to get it done.  It's just not right."

In an editorial in the June issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, Iglesia said women were being "misled or confused about what is 'normal.'"

"There are great variations of normal," Iglesia said.  "Labia can be anywhere from 5 millimeters to 5 centimeters."

Iglesia believes women have been "duped" by an entire culture that is oversexualized.

She said that Internet pornography and removing pubic hair through Brazilian waxing or shaving give women unrealistic expectations about their bodies -- or what they believe men like or want -- and goes as far as to compare vaginal rejuvenation procedures to "new age female circumcision."

In 2007, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists warned about vaginoplasties and labiaplasties that were not medically indicated, questioning their safety and effectiveness.

The biggest risks in such procedures are infection, altered sensation, dyspareunia (painful contractions of the vagina), adhesions and scarring, according to ACOG, which says women need to be informed about the lack of data on these procedures and their "potential complications."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Following Accident, Peruvian Teen to Undergo Genital Reconstruction

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(MIAM) -- After an accident with his father's rifle when he was 9 years old left him without a penis, Luis Canelos, now 17, of Peru will soon be undergoing genital reconstruction surgery, thanks to the efforts of a Miami plastic surgeon and a Florida non-profit organization that provides medical care to children in need.

"I first admit I was a little unsure about the case," said Maria Luisa Chesa, executive director of International Kids Fund's Wonderfund, which helped to coordinate Canelos' surgery.  "But then I realized how important this surgery was for this young man, not just cosmetically.  It really goes beyond that to be something that will definitely change his life."

After Canelos, who has eight brothers and sisters, accidentally shot himself in the groin, he was transported to a hospital in Lima, nearly three hours away from his family's home in a remote village off the Amazon River.  Doctors worked to repair Canelos' intestinal damage, said Dr. Christopher Salgado, associate professor of surgery and section chief of plastic surgery at the University of Miami, but he'd "blown off his external genitalia except for a small portion of his right testicle."

"The goal of the operation is not just for him to have something that he can show off in a locker room," said Salgado.  "It's so, hopefully, he can father a family."

The 20-hour operation will take place at Holtz Children Hospital at University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center.  Salgado will lead the surgical team, which will include a microsurgeon and a pediatric urologist.

"This isn't a procedure that is done in every hospital," said Salgado.  "There are very few people that do this kind of reconstruction."

While doctors will be performing Canelos' surgery for free, Chesa said, IKF Wonderfund must still raise about $50,000 to cover hospital costs.

Salgado said that typically, phallus reconstruction, or phalloplasty, can cost anywhere from $35,000 to $50,000.

According to Dr. Andrew Panossian, an assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at USC Keck School of Medicine, phalloplasty is challenging and rare.

"It's a superspecialist kind of job," said Panossian.  "You're doing very fine work and it's all sort of minutia that make this life changing thing happen."

Panossian said the procedure is like creating a tube within a tube.  It requires a specific pattern of harvesting skin along with blood vessels and nerves to create a phallus.  Then, a separate tube must run within the new phallus for sperm and urine to leave the body, he explained.

Salgado said he planned to take tissue from Canelos' forearm and make a penis out if it by sewing the skin up to arteries, veins and nerves.

Canelos told ABC News that he was very nervous about his upcoming surgery but was hoping for a positive outcome.

"I want to have a family, yes.  I want to have a family by my side," he said.  "I am so happy.  I thank God for allowing me to come here with the non-profit.  I thank them for giving me this opportunity."

When he returns to Peru after his recovery, Canelos said he wanted to continue his schooling, and hopes one day to have a career as an agricultural engineer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Transgender Chaz Bono Opts for Risky Surgery to Construct Penis

ABC/RICK ROWELL(NEW YORK) -- Chaz Bono wants to take the final step in his transition from female to male and have penile reconstruction, a complex procedure that can be risky.

Born Chastity, the son of '60s pop icons Sonny and Cher, Bono says he knew from an early age that he was born in the wrong body.  Since going public in 2009, he has injected himself with testosterone, grown body hair and surgically removed his breasts.

Now, the Dancing With the Stars contestant has told Rolling Stone magazine that, "within a short while he will finally be able to afford to get himself a penis."

Bono said that he is saving up for surgery, either the simplest procedure that uses clitoral tissue to build a micro-penis or a full phalloplasty where surgeons take skin from another part of the body and roll it to create a phallus that is attached to the groin.

Medical experts say that less than half of all who are transgender will ever go on to have genital surgery.  And those who transition from female to male are even less likely to take that step because it is complicated, expensive and not always successful.

About one-quarter to 1 percent of the population is born transgender, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.  Medical experts say that many know by the age of 6 that their physical gender does not match their identity.

"Most people describe rejecting those feelings and they can get depressed with the sense that they are living a lie," said Dr. Jeffrey Spiegel, chief of facial plastic surgery at Boston University School of Medicine.  "But with therapy and information, they come to see that it is a disorder."

"For many people, the goal is to transition in a way that they disappear from special scrutiny," he said.  "The goal is to blend in."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio