Genital plastic surgery for women has come under scrutiny and has been the topic of discussion in the news media, online, and in medical editorials. In the absence of measurable standards of care, lack of evidence-based outcome norms, and little standardization either in nomenclature or training requirements, concern has been raised by both ethicists and specialty organizations.
Some women request alteration of their vulvas and vaginas for reasons of cosmesis, increasing self-esteem, and improving sexual function. Patients must be assured their surgeon is properly trained and should understand that few validated long-term safety or outcome data are presently available in this relatively new field. Women also should be made aware that, although they may wish to cosmetically or physically alter their external genitalia, this does not mean that they are developmentally or structurally “abnormal.” It is important that training guidelines for practitioners be established and that long-term outcome, psychosexual, and safety data be published. The genital plastic surgeon must have sufficient training in sexual medicine to withhold these procedures from women with sexual dysfunction, mental impairment, or body dysmorphic disorder. In an atmosphere in which trademarked marketing terms are becoming part of the lexicon, a more descriptive terminology is suggested, incorporating the terms “labiaplasty,” “reduction of clitoral hood,” “perineoplasty,” “hymenoplasty,” and “vaginoplasty.” The term “female cosmetic genital surgery” is presented as a descriptive umbrella encompassing these genital plastic procedures.