The Current

Plastic surgery below the belt? Doctors divided over labiaplasty

Labiaplasty has become such an issue for doctors in Canada, that new guidelines have been drafted to help physicians deal with women interested in getting their labia trimmed, or cut off entirely.
It is not the price reduction that concerns some doctors, it is what is being reduced. Labiaplasty is a cosmetic surgery to alter female genitals, and it's in high demand. Some doctors are refusing. citing parallels to female genital cutting. Others say the demand is driven by pornography's influence.

OBGYNs may have concerns, but for some women labiaplasty is a solution to a painful or embarrassing issue. To find out more. we spoke with a woman who has had labiaplasty. Since this is such a sensitive issue, we have agreed to keep her name private. Here's what she said when we asked her why she opted for a labiaplasty.

I'm very active. I ride my bike a lot. I'm a triathlete and I do Ironmans, I'm on my bike for 8 - 10 hours at a time. I was very uncomfortable. But I just thought that was the norm. I would never tell anybody to do it if they didn't want to but if it was something they wanted to consider and they were uncomfortable, I'm pro-for it. I think it's fantastic surgery. I just feel much more... it sounds maybe weird to say but attractive. Woman who had a labiaplasty

Dr. Sean Rice is the plastic surgeon who performed that labiaplasty. He was in Toronto.

It's something I considered doing for a brief part of my life. But financially speaking it's something I could never be able to swing. Throughout my teens and even into my early twenties I was ashamed about my labia, and that kept me from being as open about sex as I would have loved to be. As confident about my body as I would have loved to be.Andre Shakti, an educator, activist, and adult stage and film performer

'The Clam' and 'The Barbie' are two names for a surgical procedure that leaves many feeling squeamish. In the world of cosmetic surgery, labiaplasty is gaining popularity... as more women seek to change the size and shape of their labia minora. And it has become such an issue for doctors in Canada, that new guidelines were drafted at the end of last year to help physicians deal with patients -- some as young as twelve -- who are interested in getting their labias trimmed or cut off entirely. Our next guest helped write the new guidelines. 

Dr. Jennifer Blake is the CEO of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada. She was a member of the Guidelines Committee on Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery. She was in Ottawa. 

Now, we want to know what you think about labiaplasty? Is it cosmetic surgery gone too far... or a reasonable procedure for a woman who chooses it?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Shannon Higgins and  Dr. Meera Dalal.


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