5 Real Surgical Operations Worthy of Frankenstein’s Lab

These doctors were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should
5 Real Surgical Operations Worthy of Frankenstein’s Lab

Travel back in time 10,000 years, and tell someone you plan to heal them by cutting them open with your knife. They will be horrified, and they’ll probably respond by hitting you with a rock. Travel forward in time 10,000 years, and tell someone you plan to heal them by cutting them open with your knife, and they’ll probably be just as horrified. In that era, all healing will be conducted through contactless tachyon rearrangement.

Yeah, surgery’s kind of crazy if you haven’t heard of it before. As proof, look at the following unusual operations. They’re arguably only slight variations on the basic concept of surgery, and yet, they also come off as completely insane ideas. 

Sew the Hand into the Abdomen

In 2016, a worker in Brazil was operating a machine that made plastic coils. Carlos Mariotti’s left hand got a little too close to some moving parts, which quickly stripped all the hand’s skin off. This is an injury known as a degloving, and Mariotti’s degloving was worse than most. He also lost two fingers in the bargain, and he suffered so much tendon damage that a skin graft was impossible.

The hospital couldn’t just leave his hand all skinless. Infection would set in immediately. Even if they bandaged it, it would not heal. Amputation seemed like the obvious route to take. But then the doctors figured his body might be able to repair some of those tendons if they just stuffed the hand somewhere nice and safe — i.e., beside a bunch of healthy tissue. So, they cut open a pocket in his abdomen and slid the hand in there. They sewed it up tight and left it there for 42 days. 

When the time was up, they cut the hand back out again. It still had no skin, but it had healed enough that they could now plop on a graft, taken from his thigh. A year later, and his hand had healed enough to hold a phone — which, while not a return to full function, is roughly 90 percent of what anyone’s left hand does. 

Yanking off a Leg and Doing a 180

Next is an operation that sounds both frightening and pointless. First thing we do is chop through your leg, above the knee. This entire part of your leg is now detached from your body. We saw off the knee and the upper shin from the detached bit and throw those into a bin. Then we flip the remaining amputated leg around, so that your foot, which formerly pointed in the same direction as your nose, now points in the same direction as your butt. We now reattach the leg, because bones are able to meld themselves right back together like that. 


Boston Children’s Hospital

Now, you can run backwards. Just, not very fast.

This sounds roughly as beneficial as stitching someone into a human centipede, but under certain conditions, it can be extremely beneficial. A tumor can stop your knee from bending, and this operation (called a rotationplasty) can move the ankle joint to where your knee used to be, so it functions as a replacement knee joint. Of course, your ankle and knee bend in opposite directions, which is why we have to flip your lower leg around before reattaching it.

Naturally, this results in your flipped leg being much shorter than your other leg. This is no great problem. You can just attach a prosthesis to it. You’ll be able to move around much better than before the operation. You’ll run; you’ll jump. You can play basketball. You could dance, if only you had a sense of rhythm, but there are some things even medicine cannot fix. 

Blasting the Brown Out of an Eye

According to eye scientists, if you have brown eyes, you actually have blue eyes. But also, no one has blue eyes. Okay, this needs some explanation. 

When someone’s eye looks blue, that’s not because it contains any blue pigment. That eye simply lacks any pigment at all. As a result, light hits the iris and then comes out looking blue, not because other wavelengths have been absorbed but due to the same scattering process that makes the sky blue. When someone else’s eye looks brown, it’s because their iris contains melanin, the same substance that gives skin its color.

blue iris

8thstar/Wiki Commons

Hey look, an albino.

This means that any brown eye can become a blue eye, if you just remove the melanin. Surgeons are able to do just that, using the power of lasers. The lasers shake the melanin out of place, and then the body removes the stuff on its own. The lasering takes just 20 seconds, while the fading to blue takes a couple weeks. Early verdicts on the process say it “appears to work” and also is “in no way worth the possible risks, WTF, your eyes look fine the way they are.”

The Anti-Drinking Butt Implant

A drug called disulfiram makes you hate alcohol. Normally, alcohol does bad short-term stuff to your body, and your body quickly counters those effects. Disulfiram turns off your body’s defenses, so the bad effects hit you with full force. If you want to give up alcohol but are having trouble doing it, some tablets of disulfiram may do the trick. Your first sip of booze will feel awful, and you won’t want to have any more.

Ball-and-stick model of the disulfiram molecule

Ben Mills

Or, get a friend to slap you every time you have a drink.

But what if you don’t want to take tablets? Or, what if your alcohol dependence is so strong, you fear you won’t keep up with the tablets no matter how much you want to? In that case, consider taking the disulfiram through your butt. No, we don’t mean rectally. We mean you can get an implant surgically inserted into the fat of your buttocks, to release disulfiram continuously. 

To some people, this is a needless procedure. Why undergo surgery when you have a perfectly good mouth for taking stuff into your body? But those who opt for it sing its praises. One operation, and you can have the drug in your system for a year. Plus, after all those stories of teens butt-chugging alcohol, you can proudly say, “Actually, I’m butt-chugging not alcohol.”

The Penis Arm

Malcolm MacDonald dropped something to the floor one day in 2014. It was his penis, which fell off after having become thoroughly infected during his time homeless. He stood no chance at reattaching the blackened, dead organ. But two years later, a London hospital constructed a replacement penis for him, using flesh taken from his arm. 

This seemed like marvelous news. But when the time came for the operation to attach the penis, MacDonald’s blood oxygen levels dropped severely. They couldn’t safely attach it to his groin, but they needed to connect it to his circulatory system to keep it alive. So, they connected it to his arm. This would be just a temporary measure, they said. They’d put it right soon enough.

The penis stayed on his arm for six years. His appointments kept getting rescheduled, and just when the time seemed right for the final move, the COVID pandemic hit. During those years, he kept a bandage over the penis, to protect it from the outside world, and vice versa. One time, when he was at the supermarket, he helped an old lady reach some groceries. The penis slipped out of its bandage and hit her on the head.

In 2022, he finally got the penis moved to his groin. It was a relief, of course. The relief wasn’t finally getting a functioning penis, which had been the whole goal of this affair. The relief was finally being free of his penis, having it safely moved somewhere where it needn't interfere with his public life. “It’s been a nightmare, but it’s gone now, the little bugger,” he said. And any man who calls his penis a “little bugger” truly despises it. 

Follow Ryan Menezes on Twitter for more stuff no one should see.

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