My Teen Wants Labiaplasty: How Do I Handle This Sensitive Topic?
Insecurities are abundant during the teenage years. As their childish bodies slowly change into adults and they begin to compare themselves to others, concerns about acne, facial features, breast size and body size are common.
Still, even in the face of these insecurities most parents are surprised and taken aback when their daughter asks about labiaplasty. Yet the procedure is becoming such a trendy topic amongst adolescents that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a letter in January giving physicians guidelines on how to approach it.
Why is My Teen Asking about this Procedure?
Having your daughter request a reconstructive surgery that removes excess or uneven labial tissues can be quite disarming. But in today’s social media driven society teens are exposed to what’s considered the “ideal” woman’s body daily. In addition, increasing trends in bikini waxes that expose most or all the vulva and augmented awareness of cosmetic vaginal surgeries have caused girls to look at their vagina and decide that reconstructive surgery is the answer.
Yet, labiaplasty or vaginal rejuvenation is seldom the answer for adolescents.
Interrupting a Body in Transition
Labiaplasty is a procedure that’s usually undergone by women who have experienced labial stretching or tearing from childbirth. Unlike teenage girls, the genital tissue in these women is not going to “snap” back or change size.
When teenage girls hit puberty the labia tissue begins to enlarge and grow to adult size. During this transition period, there are many variations in size, shape, and symmetry. There is rarely any cause for concern.
Since many women don’t reach full maturity until their 20s, altering the genital tissues during this time of emotional and physical change, is rarely recommended by physicians and can have negative consequences. Not only can the procedure potentially alter the natural growth of those genital tissues but it can cause scarring, loss of sensation in the area and emotional issues.
Don’t Be Dismissive
Now that you’re armed with some knowledge about this procedure, talk to your daughter about why they want vaginal rejuvenation surgery. Let your daughter know that physicians will not perform labiaplasty on girls 18 and younger for cosmetic reasons. To be considered for this surgery the teenager must have a significant medical reason such as physical deformity or persistent symptoms that the physician believes are caused directly by labial anatomy.
Finding out why your daughter is asking about labiaplasty is the first step. She may have a significant medical reason and you should schedule an appointment with a board certified ob/gyn.
If the inquiry is purely cosmetic then this is a good time to discuss body image. A constant fixation on perceived flaws or “body dysmorphic disorder” is a serious mental health issue. If you think your daughter may be suffering from this disorder it’s important to seek counseling.
Dr. David Ghozland is a board-certified OB/GYN who takes pride in providing the latest, safest and most effective techniques in women’s healthcare. Dr. Ghozland and his team would love to hear from you! Call us at (310) 299-7143 to book an appointment today.