Cosmetic gynecological surgery is in growing demand, and pelvic doctors are often asked about vaginal rejuvenation. As such, the American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS) and the International Urogynecology Association (IUGA) are teaming up to iron out the definitions and clarify descriptions on cosmetic gynecologic procedures (stay tuned!).
This clarified terminology is necessary to remove the ambiguity about aims and techniques, which will help patients, surgeons, and researchers alike in numerous specialties.
Whether their goals are cosmetic, functional, or anatomic, women deserve access to medical guidance and support on all issues related to their pelvic health. Below, we’re explore two of the most common forms of gynecological cosmetic surgery, along with the best way to seek out these treatments.
Vaginal Rejuvenation is a relatively common form of vaginoplasty (vaginoplasty being any construction or reconstruction of the vagina). Its aim is to help correct vaginal laxity, often caused by multiple childbirths and/or age. It does this by tightening the vaginal entrance, deeper canal and/or epithelium.
Blurring the lines between cosmetics and function, this procure can be used to address birth defects or tissue injuries. It is also a complementary procedure to prolapse surgery.1
Many women seek out vaginal plastic surgery for the same reasons anyone seeks out plastic surgery – to change the look and appearance of a part of their body. In this case, this typically means altering the ‘lips’ of the vagina, namely the labia minora and/or labia majora.
Indeed, labiaplasty is the largest growing plastic surgery both in the US and throughout the world.2 In this procedure, women have their labia minora, or inner labia, surgically altered. Women are typically looking to create a ‘smoother’ appearance, at its most extreme leading to the ‘Barbie labiaplasty,’ where the labia minora is dramatically reduced.
Again, while this procedure is often performed for women who are anxious or self-conscious about the aesthetics of their labia, there are other women who may experience discomfort when wearing clothes or doing certain physical activities, again pointing to the many varied reasons for these procedures.
And while this surgery has received a lot of attention, some of it negative, it is also important to note that studies have shown that a woman’s self-confidence and sexuality can be impacted by how she feels about the look of her genitalia, and that women typically seek out this procedure on their own, instead of being pressured by their partners.3
Why Clarity Is Needed
Female genital cosmetic surgery is still a relatively new field, and there is a difference between more traditional plastic and reconstructive surgery versus the type of reconstructive surgery that a Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgeon does.
And according to the IUGA, when it comes to labiaplasty and cosmetic procedures, “there have been many different procedures described with very little scientific validation and therefore there is a danger that surgeons with very little experience with vulvar or vaginal surgery (inside or outside the field of gynecology) are doing these procedures incorrectly and causing injury or damage to women.”
That’s why women who are seeking out these types of treatments may first want to speak to a doctor who specializes in pelvic conditions and treatments. Our Physician Finder is an easy way to find one near you.