New data shows staggering numbers of girls and women had their breasts surgically removed in Canada since 2018.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) said 602 girls 18 years or younger, including 303 girls 17 years and under, have had bilateral mastectomies, or “female-to-male top surgery” across the country over the course of five years.
The youngest patient was 14 years old.
The cost of a mastectomy for a teen is funded in most provinces.
The frequency of both general and adolescent breast removal surgery is rising rapidly in the country.
The number of mastectomies has gone from 536 in 2018/19 to 985 in the fiscal year of 2022-23, with 4,071 in total across the five years, according to CIHI data.
The data does not include Quebec hospitals or private clinics, such as the McLean Clinic in Mississauga, which describes itself as “industry pioneers” for breast removal surgery for girls and breast augmentation for males, as per the National Post.
Concerns have been raised surrounding permanent surgeries in young people 18 years old and under because long-term physical and mental effects of such procedures on underage girls are still uncertain.
The individual could experience lifelong physical issues, reproductive disruption and regret.
At the Conservative Party Convention in September, delegates voted 69% in favour of prohibiting “life altering medicinal or surgical interventions” regarding gender dysphoria on people under 18.
Sweden has already limited mastectomies for girls under 18, though it was the first country to legalize such surgeries in 1972.
“The uncertain state of knowledge calls for caution,” said Olivia Wigzell, director general of Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare.
However, SickKids Hospital in Toronto has a different perspective.
Not giving adolescents gender-affirming care “can have negative consequences for some youth,” the medical facility said in a statement, as per National Post.
“Decisions for care should be made by youth, their families and their health-care providers, who are best-positioned to support them.”