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The mission of the UCLA Gender Health Program is to provide healthcare for the transgender or gender-diverse community that is sensitive to everyone’s individual needs. At UCLA, we understand that gender affirmation surgery is an important step in a person’s transitioning process, but not the only step. Which is why at UCLA we not only assemble an expert team of specialists in plastic surgery, urology and gynecology to work together to perform procedures for surgical gender transition, but also provide access to providers in behavioral health, hormone therapy and primary care. For patients seeking Genital Reconstructive Services / Bottom Surgery, these services include:
For Transfeminine patients:
- Orchiectomy: For male-to-female affirming surgery, the bilateral orchiectomy is a minor outpatient procedure performed by a UCLA urologist that involves surgical removal of the testicles through a small scrotal incision. This procedure is done with a particular technique that allows for vaginoplasty later, if desired. Afterward, patients may adjust their dose of estrogens downward and no longer require spironolactone. Recovery takes approximately 2 weeks. Individuals seeking orchiectomy as part of their transition may wish to consider semen banking to preserve future fertility options.
- Vaginoplasty: In addition to an orchiectomy, a person seeking feminizing gender affirming surgery may elect to undergo a vaginoplasty, a surgical procedure that involves reconstructing the genitals to create external female genitalia with or without a vaginal cavity, based on the patient's preference. There are multiple techniques for reconstruction with the most common technique using inverted penile skin to create a functional and aesthetic vagina.
For Transmasculine patients:
- Phalloplasty: This gender affirming surgery involves a multi-staged procedure for trans masculinizing genitoperineal reconstruction with creation of a penis, urethra or urinary channel (to be able to urinate), scrotum, and the obliteration of the vaginal cavity with closure. The removal of the female genital organs such as the uterus and ovaries and fallopian tubes are required and usually performed separately and prior to the phalloplasty surgery. The creation of the penis is performed with use of tissue from other parts of the body, which could include, more commonly the radial forearm free flap, or anterolateral thigh flap, and latissimus dorsi (MLD) flap. Prosthetics such as silicone or saline testicles can be placed as well as inflatable penile prosthetics in the final stage.
- Metoidioplasty: For masculinizing gender affirming surgery, UCLA specialists offer metoidioplasty. This procedure takes advantage of the fact that prior hormone therapy with testosterone has already allowed the clitoris to grow. In this procedure, the surrounding tissue of the enlarged clitoris is released to achieve maximal length and a more natural-looking male position. A urethra is also reconstructed using either local skin tissue or a graft from the mouth depending on the amount of tissue present. The result is an aesthetic, small penis with ability to void from the tip. Construction of a scrotum with testicular prosthetics can also be performed at the same time. Should it be desired, removal of the uterus, vagina and/or ovaries can be performed at the same time.
- Hysterectomy: At UCLA, we offer a total hysterectomy, or removal of the uterus and cervix, via both laparoscopic and vaginal techniques. The hysterectomy is considered a therapeutic procedure by WPATH for transmasculine patients as part of the gender affirmation process.
- Salpingo-oophorectomy: The removal of the Fallopian tubes and ovaries can be accomplished via minimally invasive techniques. If a patient desires a vaginal hysterectomy, the tubes and ovaries can be removed at the time of this procedure. A patient who does not desire removal of the uterus may have a laparoscopic removal of the tubes and ovaries alone.
- Vaginectomy: Transmasculine patients may desire obliteration of the vaginal canal and opening. These procedures involve either removal of vaginal mucosa or closure of the vaginal canal.
For more detailed information regarding the female-to-male affirming surgeries available at UCLA, please visit our Gynecological Care program.
The details of each of these procedures, including recovery time, expected outcomes, and possible complications, will be discussed during a consultation with your UCLA specialist. Regardless of where your genital reconstruction has been done, our specialists can evaluate any concerns following surgery.
The World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH): a non-profit, interdisciplinary professional and educational organization devoted to transgender health care, that has published Standards of Care for the health and care of transsexual, transgender and gender diverse people. The UCLA Gender Health Program follows the WPATH Standards of Care Guidelines for our surgeries. The most recent version of WPATH’s Standards of Care can be found here. It is available in 18 different languages.
Photographs: Due to privacy considerations, we do not publish photos of our patients on our website. Surgery photos - both preoperative and postoperative - are available to be seen during your initial consult.
Health Records: To ensure that our surgeons are providing the best and most informed care when discussing surgical techniques, expectations and outcomes, we REQUIRE that all patients submit their most recent progress notes/health records. If a patient does not have recent progress notes/health records they will be required to establish primary care within the UCLA Gender Health Program or with an outside primary care provider if their insurance is not contracted with UCLA Health.
Surgery Letters: To help streamline your surgery timeline the Gender Health Program (GHP) recommends that folks come to their consult with both surgery letters. These surgery letters are part of the WPATH requirements and the majority health insurances that provide bottom surgery coverage require these letters for surgery authorization and scheduling. Our surgery clinical teams cannot move forward with a surgery date until these letters are obtained and submitted to insurance. Health insurance policies and requirements can vary, please check with your individual insurance plan/policy about additional requirements for bottom surgery (if any). If you need help obtaining these letters, please let the GHP team know during intake and consults.
Care Coordinator: At the UCLA Gender Health Program, we understand the unique challenges that gender-diverse patients face when searching for health care. Providing personalized care involves collaboration between specialty physicians, which is why we have a Care Coordinator as the first point of contact. Our dedicated Care Coordinator provides our gender-diverse patients with assistance in navigating the UCLA Health system, specifically including:
- Providing information about UCLA’s Gender Health Program.
- Taking an initial intake assessment in order to understand each person’s health care needs and goals.
- Ensuring patients are established with a primary care provider.
- Coordinating referrals for gender-affirming surgeries.
- Identifying appropriate providers and coordinating referrals for other supportive services.
- Coordinating insurance and benefits coverage.
- Advocacy within UCLA Health in all aspects of care.
- Providing linkages to UCLA and community-based resources.