Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery (FGCS)

Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery

What is it?

Female surgeries for modifying the genitalia are completed for many reasons of aesthetics or for reconstruction purposes. These surgeries or procedures may include:

Labioplasty: the reduction or augmentation (injection) of the labia minora or labia majora

Vaginal tightening procedure: aka "vaginal rejuvination" this involves narrowing the lower third of the vagina to tighten the canal for improved sensation during intercourse

Hymenoplasty: Narrowing the vaginal orifice by stitching together the hymenal remnants (an unbroken hymen can be a sign in some cultures of virginal status and female worthiness)

Clitoroplasty: reduction of the clitoral hood, clitoral reduction

Others: Perineoplasty, pubic enhancement, G-spot amplification

For a summary of several of the procedures mentioned, please click here for an article from PubMed Central.

So what's the big deal?

From the article linked above by Dobbleir et al., in 2011: "The absence of guidelines and evidence about aesthetic genital surgery has led to a comparison with female genital mutilation." TheWorld Health Organizationdefines genital mutilation as "removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists found this issue to be of concern and in 2007 issued a statement against non-medical procedures.

How is it marketed?

Women (and girls) interested in FGCS are likely to seek information on provider websites. More often these websites are from cosmetic surgery practices versus gynecology practices. An article in 2011 reported on the information found on such websites, and concluded that both the quality and quantity of the information on the websites was poor and included incorrect information.

How is it helpful for us to be aware of FGCS?

In a recent MedScape article, Dr. Iglesia describes how the media has influenced young women and girls in the fad of removed pubic hair and "Barbie-doll" genitalia, leaving little room for the typical variations that occur in size and shape of the female genitals. More young girls (and it is pointed out that mothers are bringing their young daughters in for these procedures) are requesting to have their genitals modified to fit this standard that appears in the media. We can serve as a resource when a girl or woman is asking about "how things should look" or about an aesthetic procedure. While there are medical indications for a vaginal surgery, a cosmetic indication must be considered carefully in light of the potential complications that can include permanent damage, nerve dysfunction, pain, and other known side effects. Dr. Iglesia also recommends that health professionals serve as educators, sharing information about the variety of genital anatomical presentations that are both normal and healthy. She also recommends the book Petals as a resource. Check out the website for the book and the other products and information on the website by author Nick Karras.

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