Labiaplasty: The Stigma Persists

Aesthet Surg J. 2022 May 18;42(6):638-643. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjab335.

Abstract

Background: Heightening interest in labiaplasty has driven potential patients to online fora, permitting the dissemination of material by potentially unqualified or inexperienced individuals. The discourse surrounding this procedure has been injected with strong opinions that are not entirely consistent with medical best-practice or evidence-based knowledge.

Objectives: The aim of this study was to explore the rationale for ongoing public opposition to labiaplasty and to investigate if awareness of the similarities between labiaplasty and breast reduction can alter an individual's perception.

Methods: Four hundred and forty-eight adult women were surveyed concerning their opinion of a surgical procedure to reduce the size of an unspecified organ related to a woman's sexuality, breast reduction, and labia reduction.

Results: Reduction of an unspecified organ and breasts was met with significantly greater acceptance than labia reduction (P < 0.0001). Presenting responders with an educational tool comparing each procedure's indications, risks, and potential benefits did not alter respondent opinions, indicating notions about sexual surgery are relatively fixed. The most common reason respondents persisted in their relative opposition to labia reduction was a perceived deficiency in social acceptance (27.1%), followed by a perceived similarity to female genital mutilation (14.8%).

Conclusions: Attitudes towards labiaplasty seem firmly based on emotion or correlation to other unacceptable practices. Informational resources do not sway these biases; thus, there is a limited role for surgeon-led education in the normalization of labiaplasty because it requires a societal shift in acceptance. Labiaplasty is a procedure whose time for popular acceptance has not yet come.