Friday, August 31, 2007

Ob-Gyns warn against 'designer vaginas'

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists on Friday is expected to release a warning against vaginal rejuvenation, a procedure that aims to enhance sexual gratification by using a laser to repair vaginal tissue damaged during pregnancy, and other cosmetic genital procedures, the Wall Street Journal reports. ACOG also plans to warn against procedures such as "designer vaginoplasty," which is promoted as enhancing a woman's appearance or tightening areas changed by childbirth and aging, the Journal reports.

According to ACOG, the procedures are unproven and the potential risks -- including infection, scarring, nerve damage and loss of sensation -- outweigh the potential benefits (Zimmerman, Wall Street Journal, 8/31). ACOG in a statement said it is "deceptive" for physicians to "give the impression" that such procedures are "accepted and routine surgical practices." ACOG's Committee on Gynecologic Practice in a statement published in the September issue of the group's magazine said the "[a]bsence of data supporting the safety and efficacy of these procedures makes their recommendation untenable."

Steven Sondheimer, an ob-gyn professor at the University of Pennsylvania and vice chair of the ACOG committee, said the group is not "really sure" what physicians are doing when performing the procedures, adding, "We have doctors contacting us and asking, 'Is this something now being taught?' And we have to say no." Thomas Nolan, president-elect of the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons, said, "I know of no medical reason to do these surgeries, and no scientific data that proves they are beneficial."

According to the Chicago Tribune, the procedures increasingly are being marketed to women on late-night television, in magazines and on the Internet. Advocates of the procedures say complications are rare, the Tribune reports. Robert Moore, a gynecologist and director of the Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Institute of Atlanta, said, "Is there overwhelming data and evidence? No. But we're gathering it now, and that's why we've gotten involved in this -- to bring legitimacy to the field" (Graham, Chicago Tribune, 8/31).

Although ACOG does not collect statistics on the procedures, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons in 2005 began collecting data on vaginal rejuvenation, reporting 793 procedures that year and 1,030 in 2006 (Wall Street Journal, 8/31).

Reprinted with permission from You can view the Kaiser Daily Reports online, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily Reports are published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

- [Editor's note: Bloomberg also did an article on the dangers of this and G-spot amplification -- it can be read in full here.]

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