Much controversy has been raised in the last few years with regards to aesthetic procedures for the female genitalia such as labiaplasty and vaginoplasty. Yet, Toronto and Yorkville women are increasingly inquiring about feminine rejuvenation procedures, and demand has been steadily increasing. In the United States, ASAPS counted over 5,000 procedures performed in 2013, up 44% from the previous year.
Why More Women Want Labiaplasty
The increasing demands and the new aesthetic standards have been undoubtedly influenced by the film industry in Hollywood and the Internet. In a sense, the unattainable has been made ubiquitous. The anonymity of the Internet has also helped the discussion tremendously.
I believe the popularity of both Brazilian waxing and thongs has also contributed to a boom in labiaplasty requests. From all this increased attention came the unfortunate new terms such as “Barbie vagina,” “designer vagina,” and “sex by design,” to quote various medias.
Why Women Consider Labiaplasty
Common chief complaints are that the labia are too big, asymmetrical, uncomfortable, darkly or asymmetrically pigmented, they bulge when wearing a swimsuit, they fold in during sexual intercourse, etc. Our common requests at Visage Clinic here in Toronto come from women of different age ranges:
- 18- to 21-year-old women, who usually have a congenital asymmetry
- 18- to 35-year-old women, with hairdressers, nursing students, doctors and lawyers being our more common patients
- 40- to 65-year-old women, who are going through the perimenopausal period
Labiaplasty is also a common consideration for women seeking to repair and restore damage to vaginal tissue caused by childbirth, and I offer it as part of a mommy makeover at our Toronto practice.
Finally, we do have a small group of exotic dancers and entertainers.
Labiaplasty and the Ethical Question
There has been a strong controversy lately about whether or not we should address those concerns. Somehow even people who have no qualms about other procedures have reservations about surgical intervention to enhance the labia. Let me just mention that the labia are the female equivalent of the scrotal skin, and the clitoris hood is the female equivalent of the male’s foreskin. Does anyone criticize male circumcision to the same extreme? And yes, scrotoplasty does exist, where males request tightening and lifting of their scrotum via skin excision.
There is no doubt that most patients we see in our plastic surgery clinics have labia within the normal spectrum of presentation. But if they feel insecure or unhappy about the appearance of their vulvar region and there are simple and safe techniques to correct the asymmetry, why not? Isn’t it what plastic surgeons do with breasts? With eyelids? With sagging jowls? Clinically speaking, there is no difference.
Understanding the Limits of Labiaplasty
I must mention that it is also clear in my discussion with my patients that female genital plastic surgery procedures are mostly aesthetic, not functional. Even the vaginal tightening procedures have no guarantee of improved sexual experience. That being said, any procedure enhancing one’s self-esteem has the potential to help in making one’s future sexual experience a more satisfying one. For that matter, the same rule applies to our patients getting a tummy tuck or a breast lift!
With the fast-growing demands and several studies that have showed a greater than 95% satisfaction rate after labiaplasty, the interest and demand for it will likely continue to grow.
by Toronto plastic surgeon Dr. Marc DuPere