There has been a five-fold increase in labiaplasty surgeries over the past decade, according to a new report by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG). There were an estimated 2,000 vaginal reconstructive surgeries in 2010.
The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons says that nearly 5,200 procedures were performed by U.S. surgeons that same year. These numbers do not include the many procedures done by gynecologists in private practices, so the actual figure is likely much higher. Here in NYC, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Thomas W. Loeb has seen a number of patients interested in this very procedure.
Experts attribute the tide of labiaplasty in NYC and abroad to pornography. “The misapprehension arises from the prominence of just one type of ‘neat’ genital appearance – the type to be found prominently depicted in pornography,” explained Thomas Baldwin of the RCOG ethics committee.
The NY Daily News reports that it’s a “buyer beware” industry, with some websites making false claims to drive labiaplasty business. “For example, three websites claimed that labial surgery would improve odor, irritation and curb the risk of infections, while all the site played up concerns on the appearance of a woman’s genitals, including the visibility of the vaginal labia through tight clothing and a larger than normal labia, a concern often brought up through a partner or magazine pictures,” according to the news outlet.
According to Dr. Loeb, these operations aren’t for everyone. “Before agreeing to take on a patient, we conduct a thorough consultation to consider each individual on a case-by-case basis,” he explains. “Generally speaking, labiaplasty is not recommended for patients who are under 18 years of age, as the genitals are not fully developed yet.” He adds that younger patients carry a higher risk of losing vaginal sensation.
It is important that women weigh the pros and cons of labiaplasty in NYC, says Dr. Loeb. At his consultations, he explains that potential side effects are like any other major surgery – bleeding, infection, wound separation, asymmetry, and scarring, to name a few. In rare instances, labiaplasty may lead to a loss of sensation or painful intercourse. Full recovery can take up to six weeks.
Risks aside, the majority of women who seek labiaplasty surgeries are satisfied with the end results and find that their lives have been vastly improved. Dr. Loeb has performed many successful reshaping procedures over the past 25 years. Many of the patients who come into his Manhattan office complain that their enjoyment of sex has diminished with age or since giving birth. There are women who want gynecological surgery to alleviate incontinence or vaginal canal sagging issues. There are also women who simply do not like the way their private parts look and wish for a confidence-enhancing improvement.
According to Reuters, there are also more controversial procedures – such as creating a new hymen for “revirgination” and the injection of collagen into the vaginal walls for “G-spot amplification” that promises to enhance sexual pleasure. Dr. Loeb says he avoids these types of procedures, which promise much and fail to deliver reliable results. The best plastic surgeons in New York don’t rely on high-pressure sales tactics or gimmicks, but discuss the procedure openly and honestly with prospective clients, selectively choosing patients who will genuinely benefit from labiaplasty in NYC.