Perceptions of Labiaplasty

Perceptions of Variation in Female Genitalia Following Labiaplasty - Kaylee Skoda, Flora Oswald, Lacey Shorter, & Cory L. Pedersen

 

Female genital cosmetic surgery (“FGCS”) is a growing field of plastic surgery dedicated specifically to the vagina and/or vulva for both functional and cosmetic purposes. There has been a surge of interest in recent years pertaining to the cosmetic purposes of FGCS – specifically, in the modification of the appearance of the vulva. Known as labiaplasty, this procedure entails the removal of labia minora to make the vulva appear smaller and more symmetrical. Previous research indicates that, due to a pervasively growing cultural belief that the labia minora should not protrude beyond the labia majora, greater numbers of women are pursuing this aesthetic surgery, while simultaneously reporting high levels of body dissatisfaction and a desire for their vulva to look “normal”. This interest has heightened particularly amongst teens, prompting the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology to release a statement in January of 2017 regarding how best to approach this sensitive topic with prospective clients who may be legally prevented or medically recommended to not undergo any form of FGCS until they reach a developmentally appropriate age.

The purpose of this study was to direct male and female participants to rate a series of vulvar images to examine their perceptions of “ideal” appearance. After completing a series of demographic questions, including pornography consumption, participants were shown randomized before-and-after images of genuine labiaplasty surgical procedures and asked to rate each image on how well it matched the societal ideal, their personal ideal, and “normalcy” in appearance overall. Results revealed that post-operative labia were rated as most “normal”, and most personally and societally ideal. Women consistently evaluated all images lower across all questions for both pre-op/post-op. Those who specified their gender rated labias most positively overall, with the exception of post-operative societal ideal, where men rated slightly higher. Ratings were quite low when considering the scale range overall

Oral presentation delivered at the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, Denver, CO, 2019.