Sunday, August 14, 2005

I think that I shall never see...

labia that need surgery.

Labioplasty (or labiaplasty) is a cosmetic surgery procedure used to reduce the size of the labia minora. In some cases, this procedure can be used to reduce the labia for women with abnormalities that cause discomfort, and apparently it was originally performed mostly on sex workers and transexuals. However, a Google search will reveal that this procedure is promoted to women by surgeons to produce a "sleeker, thinner, more comfortable, and more appealing size and shape," as one site stated, or "younger." Great, now even parts only displayed if I want them to be need to be youthful, sleek and thin. I would suggest that you do NOT Google this at work, as just about every site I found proudly displays shaved, spread-eagle crotch shots demonstrating the before and after right up front on their home pages. One thing that is striking is how, in the before shots, women look different, like women do. The after shots are all virtually indistinguishable from one another - now your girl stuff must be conformist, too!

Here's an overview of the procedure; if you're so inclined, you can pay $1500-$3000 for the privilege of being more symmetrical. I really just cannot conceive of why someone would do this for "cosmetic" reasons. My take is that if your partner can't handle a little asymmetry or uniqueness there, there are issues that a couple thousand dollars won't or shouldn't fix. This article quotes a plastic surgeon saying that women bring in pages from porn, and want to "look like this." With so many women being forced into genital mutilation in other nations, women are lining up and paying for a version of it here. Sometimes there are really no words for the kind of idiocy women will subject themselves to, such as costly procedures (which all carry some health risks) in order to conform to some absurd supposed norm.

Here's a PubMed search on the topic, only 47 articles. By contrast, there are nearly 5000 on rhinoplasty (nose jobs), giving you an idea of how much this procedure has been studied, and probably by extension, read about by your surgeon.
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Blogger DrDiSaia said...

Discomfort and embarrassment are the top reasons patients cite in my practice. And I do not market it as you suggest.

12:54 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Dr. DiSaia,
My comments were not directed at you, although I see you have a blog on the topic. I specifically acknowledged that there may be reasons of physical discomfort which may lead a woman to have this procedure performed. My concern is that women with no actual physical abnormalities are finding yet another area of their bodies that must conform to some supposed "norm" for aesthetic reasons, and thus undergoing unnecessary surgical procedures. If you could offer any insights on the reasons for the "embarrassment" your patients experience, that would be a much appreciated perspective. Thanks for reading.

11:10 AM  

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