Last week Mistress Krista sent me to a news story, published in the September 11, 2002 issue of The New Scientist called “Tissue engineers grow penis in the lab.” This exciting new report says that scientists have been able to grow the corpus cavernosae (the chambers that swell during an erection) of a rabbit penis from cells harvested from the donor rabbit. This has enormous implications for penis augmentation, replacement and construction surgeries; if they can find a way to create a penis for a trans man out of his own cells then the issue of allowing the guy to have his own non-assisted erections would be easier to address. I know that a lot of guys who want that!
Speaking of the penis, I was lucky enough this weekend to sit in on a seminar given by Dr. Daniel Greenwald, who is a well known surgeon in the FTM world. Dr. Greenwald is in Tampa, Florida, USA. He gave a detailed account of his phalloplasty techniques, and at one point described the coolest thing I saw all weekend: a closed system for allowing trans guys to have erections. This fluid system has a reservoir in the body, a pump in the scrotum, and a chamber in the penis that is filled with fluid when you squeeze the pump one way and drained of fluid when you squeeze it in another. Dr. Greenwald said that he used to wrap this in Goretex, but that the body often rejected the material. He has now taken to using irradiated skin as the cover for the mechanism; the benefit of such a thing is that since the skin is irradiated, it contains no antigens and therefore greatly reduces the risk of rejection by the body. The irradiated skin is used as a matrix, and your body grows its own skin cells within that matrix. How cool is that?
After reading the New Scientist listed above I discovered some research that has been out for over a year. In the May 23, 2001 edition of The New Scientist, Kevin Cronin, a scientist in Australia, reported that he had had success in growing breast and fat tissue in rats, mice and rabbits. The application mentioned in the article was as a treatment for mastectomy patients who would be able to do breast replacement with their own fat instead of conventional breast augmentation by implants. There are still some issues to be worked out, such as controlling growth and finding a way to make new tissue integrate into the system such that it gets a blood supply, but it is an exciting development in biotechnology.
Of course I, as a trans chick, was thrilled to hear this because it means that we might only be a few years away from augmentation treatments that will give us extra hips, boo-tay and boobs without the risks associated with implants or the danger of silicone injections.
Technology seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. Doctors are coming up with ways to decrease the cost of bottom surgeries for trans guys, and are more willing and able to consider different options based on what their patients want. It is an exciting time!
Have you recently talked to any surgeons or read any news articles that related new and exciting developments related to transsexuals? If so, I would love to hear about them!