(TIME) — A new scarless surgery to remove the Adam's apple could be a breakthrough for transgender patients.
In a significant development for transgender patients, a medical center has pioneered a new scarless surgery to remove the Adam's apple.
Dr. Avi Khafif Hefetz, a specialist in head and neck surgery and oncology at the A.R.M. Center of Tel Aviv’s Assuta Medical Center, led procedures to reduce the thyroid cartilage surrounding the larynx, commonly known as the Adam’s apple, of two transgender women in May. Two more had the procedure done early June. All were successful.
The conventional method of accessing the thyroid area is known as the trans-cervical approach, and requires a surgical incision in the neck of around 3-4 centimeters, says Hefetz. The method is commonly used during thyroidectomies, surgery to remove the thyroid gland to treat thyroid cancer.
Hefetz has led surgeries on 50 patients with various thyroid-related issues over the past year to remove part or all of the thyroid and parathyroid glands using the new method, known as the trans-vestibular approach. Instead of requiring an incision at the neck, the trans-vestibular approach uses a small incision at the inner part of the lip, enabling the surgeon to reach the thyroid area in the neck by cutting under the skin.
“We thought, why not use this approach to do the thyroid cartilage shave for transgender women?” Hefetz says.
When the team first started using the trans-vestibular approach, thyroidectomies and cartilage shaves took six to seven hours; now, Hefetz says, it’s just 60 to 90 minutes, and patients are able to return home the following day. (Hefetz says traditional trans-cervical surgeries take around one hour.)