- 1 Vaginoplasty
- 2 What is it?
- 3 Why would I need it?
- 4 Hymen Restoration Surgery
- 5 What does it involve
- 6 Is it risky
- 7 What else?
As with all things, medicine has progressed and improved over recent years to the point where there is a solution for many things that were previously considered simple facts of life. For women in particular, the list of biological and physiological complaints that, for thousands of years, women have simply had to live with is quite astounding. Fortunately, the field of medicine is catching up, as evidenced by the increasing number of women undergoing hymenoplasty surgery.
What is it?
A hymenoplasty procedure (also known as vaginoplasty) covers a range of surgical procedures specifically carried out on the vagina, though it may also be used to refer to work done on related areas, such as the rectum. In its broadest and most common use, vaginoplasty is used to return or bring normalcy to a patient’s vagina in cases where trauma or birth defects have affected it or the surrounding area. This may vary in extremes from a tightening of the vaginal walls after the stresses of multiple child births, through to the creation of a vagina where previously there was none due to birth conditions or extreme medical procedures.
In more recent times this kind of procedure has been undergone for the sole purpose of altering the appearance of a vagina, specifically the vulvar region.
Why would I need it?
Hymenoplasty surgery can be a purely cosmetic choice. Some people are unhappy with the way their genitals look, and with modern medical knowledge and surgical techniques it is possible to alter the appearance of a vagina. As with any surgical procedure, vaginoplasty cost can be prohibitively expensive, and as cosmetic surgery with no health benefit is rarely covered by health insurance policies it is still one of the less common reasons to undergo this kind of procedure.
Infants born with particular conditions affecting their genitalia may undergo a hymenoplasty procedure, however, it is usually the case that an infant born with such a condition will undergo the procedure very early on.
One of the more common causes of extreme trauma to the vaginal cavity is that of a malignant growth or abscess. Such a thing will often require invasive and sometimes drastic procedures to remove, including vaginectomy—the removal of part or all of the vagina. In such cases, hymenoplasty surgery can be used to restore the vagina.
One reason many women opt for this kind of procedure is due to excessive slackening of the vaginal walls, possibly due to child birth but also a natural consequence of ageing. Such a condition does not necessarily cause discomfort, but can severely affect the enjoyment of both parties during traditional sexual intercourse. In such cases, a woman may opt for this kind of procedure to tighten the vaginal walls and/or vaginal opening, improving the sensation during sexual intercourse.
Some other reasons for undergoing a hymenoplasty procedure include the correction of congenital defects in the vagina, urethra, or rectum, correcting vaginal prolapse, as well as many urinary and rectal issues.
Hymen Restoration Surgery
In some cases the need or desire to undergo hymenoplasty surgery is for the purpose of hymen restoration. In many parts of the World, it is important for women to have an intact hymen when they are married (cultural reasons). A hymen can be broken or torn at any stage of a woman’s life through vigorous exercise, use of tampons (sanitary products) or vaginal examination. It is now possible to restore a broken hymen through hymen restoration surgery.
What does it involve
As you may have guessed from the many reasons for vaginoplasty, there are many different forms of the procedure. In cases where vaginal tissue has been destroyed by radiological cancer treatment, reconstruction of the vagina or other surrounding structures may be performed, sometimes granting the patient normal use of their genitals.
In cases where a vagina is being created, such as with patients who have undergone a vaginectomy, or were born without one due a congenital condition, or in the case of gender reassignment surgery, there are a few methods. In congenital cases such as adrenal hyperplasia—where the disorder causes improper formation of external genitalia, a combination of procedures are employed to bring the vagina and surrounding structures to a more normalised appearance.
Where there is no vagina to begin with, a canal is created between the urethra and the bladder, whereupon a skin graft from another part of the body such as the thigh, buttocks, or colon, is taken and wrapped around a mould before being placed into the newly created canal.
Though no longer practised, the congenital absence of a vagina has, in the past, been treated with the use of a device which made use of increasing diameter dilators.
Is it risky
Any surgical procedure is inherently risky. The mere act of being put under anaesthetic carries with it significant risk. However, when it comes to vaginoplasty cost in terms of risk, the percentages are relatively low. In some cases, grafted tissues can suffer necrosis. Other patients have reported shrinkage of the vagina, in some cases requiring a further procedure in order to fix the shrinkage. Genital pain has been reported. In gender reassignment surgery, vaginal prolapse in a small percentage of patients. This kind of procedure has also been reported to affect the patient’s ability to empty their bladder, with some actually finding it easier to void their bladder, though nearly a fifth of patients undergoing this type of procedure found it more difficult, and nearly a third suffered UTI (urinary tract infection) after the procedure.
It’s important to bear in mind that, as with any significant reorganisation of the human anatomy, it is likely that a vagina that has been created using non-vaginal tissues will not provide the same experience as one that formed naturally or has been created using existing structures. In most cases, this relates specifically to sensation during sexual intercourse. In cases where the procedure is largely cosmetic this is not the case, and many patients actually report improved sensation during sexual intercourse, though it is not a guarantee that, for example, a tightening of the vaginal tissue will result in improved sensation.
It’s important to distinguish the difference between reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery, especially when thinking about this kind of procedure. The advent of cosmetic surgery to alter the appearance of a vagina has been labelled “designer vagina”, and has been criticised by health professionals as needlessly risky and driven by unhealthy aspects of society and culture. Something worth bearing in mind if you’re considering undergoing this kind of surgery.