First, you should always recognize that no surgery will completely and perfectly restore birth anatomy. But it is always our goal to reconstruct the anatomy to as near normal as possible, AND to also relieve pain, reduce previous complications and restore function.
After FGM, patients frequently complain of pain where they were cut. This is due to the scars left behind when the cut healed and left the distorted anatomy. During surgery, we identify what is causing the pain and then remove as much scar tissue as possible and then, carefully, surgically and aesthetically put the tissue back where it was intended originally.
Since the clitoris is a structure most often damaged at the time of the mutilation, the visible portion that the patient would normally see is not present and, therefore, not functional. We use a surgical technique that locates that clitoral tissue left behind (“the clitoral stump”) that is encased in scar tissue and free it from the scar tissue, bring it to the outside of the body and expose it so that it can function.
If there is infibulation, the labia are surgically separated and, again, we work to restore the normal anatomy.
Surgery is done on an outpatient basis, meaning that the patient leaves the Surgery Center after the surgery. No hospital stay is required.
The type of mutilation clearly dictates what is necessary at the time of surgery and the amount of time required for the reconstruction. However, most cases are completed in an hour or hour and a half operating time.
The recovery for most patients is uneventful. They can return to their normal daily activities after 3 or 4 days, but with restrictions on intercourse for a minimum of six weeks.
Anecdotally, post-operative patients report an improvement in pain relief and an improved body image. Further, most patients experience sensations from the newly exposed clitoris that they have never experienced. This is why so many patients tell us, “I feel whole again.” It is important to note that any psychological problems present prior surgery should be addressed to expect the maximum benefits.