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Sex-change surgery regret is on the rise, leading surgeon says. Here's why.
An anonymous Italian anaesthetist shake hands with the Professor Miroslav Djordjevic, after his sex change operations at a specialized clinic in Belgrade, October 11, 2016. (Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images)

Sex-change surgery regret is on the rise, leading surgeon says. Here's why.

A concerning number of transgender people who have undergone sex change surgeries go on to express regrets and experience crippling depression and suicidal thoughts, according to an experienced genital reconstruction surgeon.

According to a report in The Telegraph, world-leading genital reconstruction surgeon Professor Miroslav Djordjevic has seen a rise in his patients coming back to him after sex change surgery seeking reversals of the procedure, which are complex and expensive, and can take more than a year to complete.

"It can be a real disaster to hear these stories," Djordjevic said.

Lack of counseling and research

Djordjevic cites two issues causing the increase in patients getting a sex change surgery and subsequently regretting it: a lack of robust research on the topic, and a lack of psychiatric evaluation and counseling before the surgeries.

While Djordjevic requires his patients to undergo a year or more of psychiatric evaluation followed by hormone evaluation and therapy, some patients seeking reversals have told him that they were only asked if they had the money for the surgery beforehand.

“I have heard stories of people visiting surgeries who only checked if they had the money to pay,” Djordjevic said. “We have to stop this. As a community, we have to make very strong rules: nobody who wants to make this type of surgery or just make money can be allowed to do so.”

A psychotherapist at Bath Spa University tried to do research on "detransitioning," but his research proposal was rejected after he turned in preliminary findings showing growing numbers of young people were regretting gender reassignment surgery, according to The Guardian.

The professor was told the proposal was rejected based on concerns that it was "potentially politically incorrect."

Younger patients, more risks

Djordjevic said the average age of his patients has dropped from 45 when he first started more than 20 years ago to 21, with some in the medical community advocating for allowing minors to get sex change surgeries.

Djordjevic believes that to be dangerous ground, and said there is a line he personally will not cross.

“I’m afraid what will happen five to 10 years later with this person,” Djordjevic said of patients younger than 18 who may eventually have the surgery. “It is more than about surgery; it’s an issue of human rights. I could not accept them as a patient because I’d be afraid what would happen to their brain and mind.”

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