Complications of the neovagina in male-to-female transgender surgery: A systematic review and meta-analysis with discussion of management

Clin Anat. 2018 Mar;31(2):191-199. doi: 10.1002/ca.23001. Epub 2017 Nov 10.


Gender-affirmation surgery is often the final gender-confirming medical intervention sought by those patients suffering from gender dysphoria. In the male-to-female (MtF) transgendered patient, the creation of esthetic and functional external female genitalia with a functional vaginal channel is of the utmost importance. The aim of this review and meta-analysis is to evaluate the epidemiology, presentation, management, and outcomes of neovaginal complications in the MtF transgender reassignment surgery patients. PUBMED was searched in accordance with PRISMA guidelines for relevant articles (n = 125). Ineligible articles were excluded and articles meeting all inclusion criteria went on to review and analysis (n = 13). Ultimately, studies reported on 1,684 patients with an overall complication rate of 32.5% and a reoperation rate of 21.7% for non-esthetic reasons. The most common complication was stenosis of the neo-meatus (14.4%). Wound infection was associated with an increased risk of all tissue-healing complications. Use of sacrospinous ligament fixation (SSL) was associated with a significantly decreased risk of prolapse of the neovagina. Gender-affirmation surgery is important in the treatment of gender dysphoric patients, but there is a high complication rate in the reported literature. Variability in technique and complication reporting standards makes it difficult to assess the accurately the current state of MtF gender reassignment surgery. Further research and implementation of standards is necessary to improve patient outcomes. Clin. Anat. 31:191-199, 2018. © 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: prolapse; reoperation; risk; sex reassignment surgery; transgender person; vagina.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Penis / surgery*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology*
  • Reoperation / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Reassignment Surgery / adverse effects*
  • Sex Reassignment Surgery / methods
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vagina / surgery*