Extreme Makeover: Vagina Edition

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Throughout history, women have adorned or altered their appearance to appear more attractive and desirable The genitals are no exception to this rule of adornment. Hair removal, piercings, tattoos, and yes, even surgery are all things that many women choose to do in the interest of making their private parts more attractive.

But it’s one thing to glue a few crystals on your mons or dye your pubic hair pink for kicks. It’s quite another thing to undergo plastic surgery to change the appearance of your genitals.

Along with the “less is more” pubic hair trend comes the ability to clearly see what things look like, and as with every other part of the body, women tend to be really critical of their appearance.  I’ve even had a few patients who were so self-conscious about the appearance of their labia that they avoided sexual intimacy altogether and requested  a trim even when reassured that their labia were perfectly normal.

Beyond appearance, many women do have lengthy labia that simply are uncomfortable or "get in the way" . lengthy labia can also obstruct the flow of urine, a situation known as urinary splaying. .

  I never realized just how many women were dissatisfied  with their labia  until I mentioned it in my book, The Essential Guide to Hysterectomy. Suddenly, women were coming out of the woodwork telling me that they wanted to have their labia shortened but they had never before asked because they were too embarrassed. While some women are motivated by being tired of cleaning urine off the toilet seat, others requested a labioplasty because they experience discomfort and irritation during sexual or athletic activities. And then there are those that simply don’t like the way their labia look.

Women who requested labioplasty in one study gave the following motivations for desiring surgery:

           Aesthetic dissatisfaction 87 % 

           Discomfort in clothing 64%

           Discomfort in playing sports 26%

           Uncomfortable sex 43 %

 

Another disturbing trend is the increasing number of teenagers requesting labial reduction surgery. In  May  2016, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)  released  the following  position statement:

"When adolescents seek medical treatment, the first step is often education and reassurance regarding normal variation in anatomy, growth, and development. Nonsurgical comfort and cosmetic measures may be offered, including supportive garments, personal hygiene measures (such as use of emollients), arrangement of the labia minora during exercise, and use of form fitting clothing. If emotional discomfort or symptoms persist, then surgical correction can be considered."

 In other words, labial surgery should be a last resort. The very last resort.  So, whether  you a teen or an adult, when opting for surgery, it’s important to keep in mind that there is always the risk of complication. And, like any cosmetic procedure, sometimes the result isn’t exactly what you had in mind, Unlike the minimalist pubic hair style which is all the rage today, there is no going back from surgery. My advice, love your labia as they are and only go for the 'designer vagina" if discomfort, not appearance is the issue.