First transgender woman in the world undergoes vaginal construction with fish skin

A transgender woman in Brazil is the first in the world to undergo successful vaginal constructive surgery using fish skin.

Maju, 35, qualified for the surgery this year after complications from a botched sex reassignment surgery in 1999. After a decade, the opening of her constructed vagina became narrower, and eventually collapsed.

Last month, Maju underwent the surgery performed by gynaecologist Professor Leonardo Bezerra, from the Federal University of Ceara (UFC) in Fortaleza, Brazil.

The patient told Brazilian news agency FocusOn the procedure has restored her self-esteem, and allowed her the opportunity to have sex again.

"I'm absolutely thrilled with the result," she told the newspaper, three weeks after the surgery.

"For the first time in my life I feel complete and like a real woman."

The fish skin used by Dr Bezerra in a previous surgery.
The fish skin used by Dr Bezerra in a previous surgery. Photo credit: Caters.

The procedure, known as neovaginoplasty, uses a tubular-shaped acrylic mould wrapped with the skin of tilapia fish. According to the Mirror, this forms "a biological prosthesis to rebuild and extend the vaginal canal".

The tilapia skin then attaches itself to the vaginal canal, re-coating the walls in a similar manner to stem cells.

"We were able create a vagina of physiological length, both in thickness and by enlarging it, and the patient has recovered extremely well," he says.

"She is walking around with ease, has no pain and is urinating normally. In a couple months we believe she will be able to have sexual intercourse."

While fish skin may be a surprising choice, Dr Bezarra says it's because the sterilised skin has stimulatory cell growth properties.

It's rich in collagen - a substance that promotes healing and has firmness and elasticity as strong and resilient as human skin - hence why it's found in a plethora of beauty products and skincare vitamins.

A device made from silicone which appears like a large tampon will remain inside Maju's vagina for up to six months to prevent the walls from closing.

The technique, which Dr Bezzera developed in 2016, has successfully treated ten non-transgender women affected by vaginal conditions such as Rokitansky syndrome, where the vagina can be underdeveloped or absent.

Dr Bezerra's procedure is being hailed as a breakthrough in gynaecological surgery.