Sensibility, sensation, and nerve regeneration after reconstructive genital surgery: Evolving concepts in neurobiology

Nicholas A. Calotta, William Kuzon, A. Lee Dellon, Stan Monstrey, Devin Coon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Sensory recovery following phalloplasty and vaginoplasty for gender dysphoria is essential to the overall success of gender-confirming surgery. Anecdotal evidence suggests that superior reinnervation results are seen in genitoplasty compared to other peripheral nerve repair scenarios. Despite these observed differences, the quality of available literature is poor. Methods: The authors reviewed the body of English language literature regarding sensory outcomes following genitoplasty for gender confirmation. Results: The available body of literature discussing the basic science and clinical science aspects of sensory recovery following gender-confirming genitoplasty is small. Available data show that sensory recovery following vaginoplasty produces high rates of reported orgasmic ability, largely through the neoclitoris, and a neovagina with vibratory and pressure sensation similar to that of the native vagina. Phalloplasty sensory outcomes are variable, with the largest series reporting return of sensation in the neophallus that is slightly less than what is measured in control men. Erogenous sensation, including the ability to orgasm, is present in nearly all patients after several months. Conclusions: Existing series indicate that genitoplasty patients experience faster and more complete recovery than any other peripheral nerve regeneration scenarios. However, there are many potential confounding factors in assessment and reporting, and more consistent and reproducible measure endpoints measures are needed. Further research is needed to better understand both the basic science and clinical science of peripheral nerve regeneration in genitoplasty, which may change fundamental aspects of current paradigms of peripheral nerve regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)995E-1003E
JournalPlastic and reconstructive surgery
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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