June 15, 2024

A Canadian man had two healthy fingers amputated to treat his “body integrity dysphoria,” a case report about his procedure reveals.

The 20-year-old ambidextrous man experienced “profound distress” over his left hand’s fourth and fifth fingers and decided to have them amputated, according to the case report, which was published March 27 in Clinical Case Reports, an open access medical journal.

Body integrity dysphoria is the rare phenomenon of individuals wanting to amputate parts of their body, usually limbs, often because they feel the body part does not belong to them.

The young man opted for amputation after non-invasive treatments “proved unsuccessful,” the report says.

“Despite ethical concerns and limited literature on [body integrity dysphoria], the decision to proceed with elective surgery was based on the patient’s sustained desire, potential risks of self-harm, and the distinct presentation involving two fingers rather than a complete limb,” Dr. Nadia Nadeau of the department of psychiatry at Université Laval in Quebec wrote in the case report.

The man described having intrusive thoughts about his left hand’s fourth and fifth fingers since childhood and felt they should not belong to his body. He described often hiding his fingers, causing pain, and said he had not told his family about his distress due to embarrassment.

The man also said he suffered from nightmares in which his fingers were burning or rotting. He considered removing the two fingers himself.

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“He had contemplated asking a friend to watch over him and be prepared to call emergency services in case his attempt led to a need for resuscitation,” Dr. Nadeau wrote in the case report. “Working in a sawmill, he considered building a small guillotine to cut his fingers. … He couldn’t imagine himself living for the years to come with those fingers.”

After his fingers were amputated, the man experienced “immediate relief,” according to the report.

The case report claims the man’s experience highlights the “potential efficacy and patient satisfaction” of elective amputation for people with body integrity dysphoria, as well as the importance of “inclusive healthcare practices.”

“Functionality was not meaningfully affected,” the doctor wrote. “In fact, he reported that without the two fingers he was able to use his hand as he had it mapped in his mind without having the fingers bothering him.”

“He won arm-wrestling games, was able to drive his four wheels, kept working with his hands without any problem,” the report reads. “He had constructive life plans, reduced anger, and improved well-being with family and at work.”

The man “feared judgment in romantic relationships” after the amputation, but reported he was now able to enjoy a “normal life.”

Body integrity dysphoria has been compared to gender dysphoria — amputation treatment for body integrity dysphoria is compared to the surgeries trans-identifying people get to try to align their bodies with their gender identities. Those surgeries can be phalloplasty, vaginoplasty, double mastectomy, and sometimes facial feminization surgery.

Critics of gender ideology have slammed doctors amputating the healthy breasts of minor girls who want to masculinize their appearance.

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