Gynecologists Alarmed By Female Genital Plastic Surgery
- Posted on: Aug 27 2012
Female genital cosmetic surgery is a small segment of the U.S. plastic surgery market, but it is growing, with thousands of women estimated to undergo such procedures every year. That growth comes despite a warning from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), in a 2007 notice to member physicians, that strongly questioned the medical validity and safety of female genital cosmetic surgery. Earlier this year the group debated the trend at its annual meeting in San Diego.
“None of these procedures have proven effectiveness, and there is potential for harm,” Dr. Cheryl Iglesia, a Washington, D.C., gynecologist and former ACOG committee member, wrote in an editorial published in the June issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “Women are being misled or are confused about what is normal,” she wrote — and about what constitutes a condition that can actually be helped through treatment.
Critics say the trend is the latest service aimed at women pursuing an impossible ideal of physical perfection, hyped by Internet pornography and advertising by surgeons who may not explain all the risks, such as infections, scarring, pain and the loss of the very sensations some patients seek to enhance.
More than 2,140 U.S. women underwent “vaginal rejuvenation” last year, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons put the U.S. total at nearly 5,200 in 2010. Experts note such figures do not include the many procedures done by gynecologists.
ACOG not only points to the risks of genital surgery but also emphasizes that female sexual response is driven by psychological factors rather than genital appearance. The group has asked its members to be aware of how they might unwittingly influence a patient to consider surgery.
In practices across the country, doctors say more women, from teenagers to those in their late 70s, want to discuss the procedures, which can cost between $2,500 and $12,000 and are usually not covered by insurance.
There are many types of female genital surgery, and because of the sensitive nature of the topic, most news shows don’t readily discuss it. The most common procedure, labiaplasty, entails removing excess labia minora skin. This can help people who have rubbing, chaffing, or problems with the skin getting pinched in the vagina during intercourse. It’s an established procedure that is becoming more and more mainstream.
Other female genital procedures are more controversial. Vaginal rejuvenation (or tightening of the vagina), is performed either by removing the excess vaginal wall or using a laser to cause it to contract.
G spot amplification is another controversial procedure that has gotten a good amount of press (I spoke about it on Fox News at one point), but no large scale scientific studies have validated its effectiveness.
Hymen reconstruction is performed in women who want (need) to appear to be a virgin, typically on their wedding night. I’ve never done this procedure, but it’s supposedly more common in certain Middle Eastern cultures.
If you are considering any of these procedures, I encourage you to do your homework. There are some very reputable board-certified plastic surgeons who do this (like Dr. Gary Alter from Dr. 90210), but a lot more doctors who are just dabbling in it.
But don’t call me for female genital plastic surgery.
I have absolutely no desire to take a scalpel to a woman’s genitals.
I’d rather just take the day off and play some hoop.
Posted in: Plastic Surgery News