Crafting a Cooler Cooter

Aesthetic plastic surgery didn’t hit the general public with resounding force until the 1980s, when facelifts, liposuction, and breast implants became affordable, although movie stars such as Marilyn Monroe were clandestinely enhancing themselves decades earlier. In the new millennium, it’s practically vox populi, but whereas most of these operations are intended to affect areas of the body immediately noticeable by one and all, a new trend has emerged that seeks to sculpt that most hidden and sacred of areas: the vagina.

Until recently, most women wouldn’t have considered vagina-enhancement desirable, but a slow ethical shift among certain elements of the plastic-surgery community has resulted in a new emphasis on vaginoplasty/labioplasty techniques, which are now being marketed for their ability to augment sexual pleasure, aesthetic beauty, and self-esteem.

This art form is not a new one. A substantial subplot of the “Godfather” novel involves Lucy, whose vagina is so huge she can only receive sexual pleasure from the enormously endowed Mafioso Sonny. Eventually she marries a surgeon who performs an invasive vagina-reduction procedure in order to enhance his own small-dicked pleasure. At the time, this was radical stuff, and even in the past few decades vaginoplasty was only performed in severe cases, usually involving vaginal-stretching birth trauma that Kegel exercises failed to rectify.

In an age when fake beach-ball breasts have become passé, designer vaginas are the new must-have rage. Whether you’re a Japanese or Middle-Eastern tourist who needs to have her virginity reinstalled before heading back to the homeland, a giant-vagina mutant who can’t find pleasure, or you simply want your clit-hood removed so you can have easier access to your magic button, well, hundreds of doctors are out there ready to help.

There are legitimate reasons for vagina-anaplasty—pain, lack of sensation, deformity—and the trick is to find a doc that will declare your problem as brutal, so that health insurance will cover the surgery. The question feminists are asking, however, is whether 98% of these cases aren’t simply another paradigm of women trying to conform to men’s twisted ideals, instead of appreciating the uniqueness of their own bodies. And are cosmetic surgeons filling their coffers by creating a need where there was none before?

The most egregious—and popular—example of the designer-vagina phenom, then, is labioplasty, wherein a simple laser treatment can trim, smooth, and tighten inner labia lips (labia minora). Some proponents claim that this procedure enhances sexual pleasure, but as yet that concept is unverified.

What is known is that most females have inner lips that are at least partially exposed, and some women find this embarrassing. The airbrushed and carefully posed vaginas found in men’s magazines, such as Playboy, might be partially to blame, since they promote a smooth, sleek look as normalcy. However, the chauvinistic psychology runs far deeper: For centuries, classical sculptures and art have often showcased perfect clam-shapes with no exposed inner labia; and in the 1960s, revealing the labia minora could change the classification of a girlie mag from pin-up pulp to porn.

In Australia, it’s still illegal for an adult publication to show the inner labia—explicit vaginal shots are okay, so long as the inner lips are airbrushed out. This has made strange bedfellows between the Australian porn industry and Aussie feminists, both of whom see advantages in showcasing the true beautiful individuality of women, big labiums and all.

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RELATED LINKS:

Salon's "Designer Vaginas," by Debra Ollivier. Excerpt: “Matlock ran his first ad in the L.A. Weekly two years ago. Amid the clutter of ads for big breasts, tight butts, large penises and iron shins, the Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation ad featured a bikini-clad woman writhing in orgasmic delight. The headline read: "You Won't Believe How Good Sex Can Be!" Matlock's phones haven't stopped ringing since.”

UK Channel 4's “Designer Vaginas,” by Jenny Bryan. Excerpt: " 'Some women are conjuring up the idea that their labia are not the right shape and, increasingly, they look at pornographic pictures of labia in men's magazines. But these are often air-brushed, so they're getting a false picture.' "

Guardian Unlimited's "Top to Toe." Excerpt: " 'Vaginal vanity surgeries' are growing in popularity, but there are some major risks....Potential benefits include heightened pleasure for both partners and prolonged orgasms, and a customised size and shape. A laser is used to improve tone, put a stop to stress incontinence, and decrease the diameter." (Originally published in The Observer in the UK).

SBI's "Gambling for Beauty: College Students and Plastic Surgery." Excerpt: "The reduction is performed by removing a middle section of the inner labia and then reattaching the outer skin to the shortened lip. It is done this way, instead of merely trimming the outermost skin, in order to preserve the natural look. According to an article which appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine’s November 1998 issue, the fact that there are still so few surgeons who have experience with this procedure makes it especially risky. An inexperienced surgeon could render the patient with a drastically reduced sensation if too much skin is removed, which causes a loss of sexual pleasure, or a drastic increase in sensation caused by irritated nerves, which would result in a painful situation down below."

Imagine Your Health's "Plastic Surgery Enters the Bedroom." Excerpt: "Bedroom surgeries are not just for men. Procedures are also available for women who feel they need to change the look of their genitalia....The reconstruction process focuses on those areas important to sexual gratification."

Unmasking the Gorgon's "Cunnus Diaboli." Excerpt: "There's a bizarre new trend out there and it's called 'Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation.' Frankly, the very thought of it sickens us.... It's plastic surgery in the same sense as getting a nose or a boob job. Except this time they're taking the scalpel between your legs! cringe Dr. Alter and Dr. Matlock (both men, surprise surprise) have websites on the subject. Check them out for full details on what the surgery entails. Look at the before and after shots on Dr. Alter's site. Frankly, we're having difficulty seeing the dire need for the surgery in any of the vaginas shown."

And the topic is further explored in Sex News Daily's "Sex Tech, Part I: Buy a better vagina"; BeautySurg.com's labiaplasty entry; the Plastic Surgery Portal's listing of doctors that perform labial rejuvenations; and Betty Dodson's "Viva la Vulva" (Excerpt: "While the other women observe, Betty Dodson points out the individual design of each vulva in the spot light. A Classical cunt with perfect proportions, a Gothic vulva with cathedral shaped arches, a Baroque Pussy with elaborate drapery and an Art Deco yoni with graceful fluted lines. The variation and diversity is like snowflakes: No two vulvas are ever identical.")

And the list goes on -- both pro and con (fix those labia episiotomy scars! Refine that minora/majora! Keep your uniqueness as a woman intact!) -- with cooter re-crafter's especially easy to find in NYC, LA, and Florida (shocking!) and fellows like Dr. Jacobson of tony Greenwich, CT, specializing in Designer Laser Vaginoplasty, Laser Reduction Labioplasty, Laser Perineoplasty, Hymenoplasty, and Combination of DLV with LVR (during which you can get your boobs augmented during the same office visit that reconstructs your vagina. Yes!).

On the medical front, more and more docs are ready and willing to ply this trade:

The Belgium Wellness Kliniek (which features some graphic images and photos, not for the faint of heart or easily offended) brags: "You can decide about the size of your labia yourself!"

And Dr. Pamela J. Loftus of Boca Raton, Florida is a female surgeon with "more than 15 years experience performing" a litany of surgeries that are certainly specialized, if nothing else: "Labiaplasty, Labia Reduction, Vaginal Rejuvenation, Inverted Nipple Correction, Hymen Repair to Restore Virginity, Clitoral Hood Removal, Clitoral Adhesion Removal, Removal of the Hood of the Clitoris, Removal of Clitoral Hood Adhesions, Clitoroplasty, Clitoridotomy, Hoodectomy, Clitoral Hood Release, Labioplasty, Vagina Reduction, Vaginaplasty, Vaginoplasty, Hymenoplasty, Female Cosmetic Genital & Labia Surgery, Labia Majora Augmentation (Enlargement of the Outer Labia Lips, Large Labia Lips) and Mons Pubis Liposuction [pubic liposuction!]."

Dr. Loftus is also not afraid to post tons of no-fooling-around photographs of her work -- it may be graphic nudity, but it's definitely not pornography, that's for sure (it's clinical to the point of frightening).

Perhaps worst of all, the so-called Vagina Institute has published a website that preys both on perverts and women plagued by low self-esteem. Much of the content on the site can only be accessed by paying members, but even in the free area there are enough shapely, waxed ladies explicitly showcasing their nether regions to make viewers wonder "Hey, is this really a medical site, or is it Hustler?" At least a couple of female bloggers have expressed their outrage regarding the site's pro-surgery emphasis and its vagina/vulva "quality test." (WARNING: this site could easily be considered porn, although it's supposedly a scientific research organization.)

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It's high time the mainstream press tackles this in a bigger way, considering how prevalent it's becoming. Has Oprah even touched this yet? Perhaps not -- it's one of those dirty little secrets that Googlers love so much, and internet journos can slobber over, but it's not so easy to talk about (or show) on the telly.

Maybe they can start giving away new vaginas on one of those reality shows that fixes up ugly ducklings. It'd be a ratings bonanza.

[Update: Fleshbot and the New York Times both posted labiaplasty articles about a month after I wrote this, so the word is, uhhm, "spreading."]

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for linking back.
(and I did browse your site. I loved the link to fuck_the_south)
~phariedreamer

love_tongue said...

i am sad that some women feel that tey must meet some ones picture of the average labia. i have been in love my wifes labia for over 10 years. i have shaped it from small lips to beautiful flower. she has loved every stretch and pull; finger nail digs and loving tongue.

smita sharma said...

How do you fix Inverted Nipple Correction? I have heard of things out there that you can buy. I was just wondering if anyone can tell me what they are called again, and if they actually, truly work?