Genital Cosmetic Surgery for Women: Myths & Misconceptions
You may have heard of vaginoplasty or labiaplasty, which are just two of the more popular cosmetic surgeries women get to alter the aesthetics or function of their genitalia, according to the National Institutes of Health. As the breadth of such procedures has grown, so have the number of places where women can receive them, the reasons they seek them and the desired outcomes—and so, too, has the number of misconceptions surrounding the procedures.
Here, we debunk five pervasive myths regarding female genital cosmetic surgery.
Myth: Recovery from vaginoplasty or labiaplasty is extensive.
Reality: Thanks to advances in modern technology and medical practices, women looking to get a vaginoplasty or a labiaplasty can opt for minimally invasive versions of both procedures. While women who undergo either of these genital cosmetic surgeries will need to abstain from sexual activity for at least six weeks, most are able to resume other normal activities within just a few days.
Myth: Genital cosmetic surgery is the same as genital mutilation.
Reality: This myth will (and should) ring obviously untrue to some people, but many others mistakenly associate genital cosmetic surgery with the genital mutilation practices they sometimes hear about in the news. The persistence of this myth is likely due to a lack of dialogue around female genital cosmetic surgery, since talking about genitals is still seen as a taboo subject for many people.
In reality, genital mutilation refers specifically to the act of removing the external parts of female genitalia for cultural purposes. Female genital cosmetic surgery, on the other hand, involves only slight alterations of the labia for aesthetic purposes or vaginal tightening for improved sexual function. And all procedures are performed by a medical professional.
Myth: Women get genital cosmetic surgery only for the benefit of their sexual partners.
Reality: This myth dismisses or disregards the benefits of many procedures to a woman's self-confidence, comfort level or sexual health. While it’s probably true that some women seek the procedures for aesthetic benefits, many others undergo surgery for their own comfort and satisfaction. For example, some women may want a labiaplasty simply because excess labia tissue can cause discomfort when they wear certain clothes or when they have sex. Even in cases when a woman gets genital cosmetic surgery to enhance the appearance of her genitalia, her reasoning may be to boost her self-confidence rather than solely to please her partner.
Myth: Vaginal rejuvenation is extremely painful.
Reality: Doctors use either local or general anesthesia when performing vaginal rejuvenation, so it is generally pain-free. In fact, nonsurgical vaginal rejuvenation procedures may involve laser therapy, which significantly reduces the pain associated with the procedure. The goal of vaginal rejuvenation is to tighten the vagina. Women sometimes seek this treatment if they experience vaginal laxity, which can result from aging or childbirth, as muscles and tissue in the vagina stretch over time.
Myth: Female genital cosmetic surgery is used only to tighten the vagina.
Reality: In reality, a wide array of genital cosmetic surgeries are available to women for purposes beyond tightening the vagina. The procedures include labiaplasty, G-spot injections and clitoral hood removal, just to name a few. If you’d like to get cosmetic surgery to alter the look or function of your genitalia, talk to your doctor. There’s likely a procedure already available that applies to your specific concerns.
Keep in mind that going under the knife, especially for elective surgery, is a big deal. It can be expensive, traumatic, time-consuming and (on rare occasions) risky. Before deciding to move forward, be sure to do plenty of research, get advice from more than one medical professional and ask about the risks involved.