It’s often the case that if you’re not affected by a certain problem you can never fully understand all of the feelings you can experience or just how much, and in what ways the problem can really affect you. When it comes to the increased numbers of women seeking cosmetic vaginal surgery it would be all too easy to assume that it is somehow unnecessary or related to fashion or vanity. The truth may be quite different.
The fact is that situations and motivations vary greatly among women, and there are in fact many different genital cosmetic procedures for women including labiaplasty, vaginoplasty (vaginal tightening) and pelvic floor reconstruction, perineal refashioning, and hymenoplasty.
The Internet may have contributed to fashions like genital shaving which has in turn made some women more conscious about the appearance of their genitals. This in itself though is not the only reason why a woman would seek labiaplasty surgery / labial reduction.
Women often seek labial reduction surgery to improve their self esteem, or because they may be embarrassed or conscious about the appearance of their genitalia, particularly if there have been relationship issues. It may be that they have always been unhappy the appearance of their genitals and this may have caused the emotional distress over many years. Some women may for example have experienced problems since puberty, or they may want to relieve the discomfort caused by clothing in that area. Some women have pigmented and uncomfortable labia, and this may be affecting their sex life and their relationships with partners. For other women involved in certain sports such as equestrian sports or gymnastics, discomfort or self consciousness may also be reasons why they are thinking about surgical options.
The reality is that the shape, size and appearance of labia vary widely within what is normal and in some cases I will have to say that a woman will not benefit from surgery because of this. It’s also not simply a case of me operating because a woman asks me to. I collaborate closely with a psychiatrist and a psychosexual therapist, and I believe that a psychological and sensitive approach is essential, as is the need to rule out body dysmorphia, and self harm.
I have been carrying out labial surgery for 15 year and when I see a patient for a Consultation, I carry out a detailed assessment of the labia and advise the patient about whether they have enlarged labia. I will then go through the types of operations which I can carry out.