The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) is up in arms. The College has just issued a health warning to women who may be interested in surgical procedures that are called Vaginal Rejuvenation or Revirgination.
Proponents of these operations say that in mature women, vaginas become loose from childbirth and age, and so, if you get them tightened up, you are going to have a tighter fit, and greater pleasure, during sex. That is not all. Women of all ages, shapes and sizes are potential customers of cosmetic reconstruction of the external genitalia. If someone wants the inner labia trimmed, or a pigmented portion removed, or the external lips plumped up, she is a candidate for this brand of surgery.
There is even a GShot that claims to amplify the fabled G spot of the vagina. Basically, the G (Grafenburg) spot is a point in the front wall of the vagina where the maximum sensory stimulation is present. By injecting human collagen at the point, the G-spot projects into the vagina by almost a couple of centimeters (it is claimed), and thus is more easily stimulated during intercourse. Testimonials in websites rave about orgasms arising out of bumpy car rides, intercourse be damned! It is claimed that 87% of women benefit from this!
All these procedures are of unproven benefit, unnecessary and have potential side effects, says the ACOG. The College has come out with an advisory release that says:
It is imperative that studies on these procedures be conducted and published in peer-reviewed publications so that the evidence and clinical outcomes can be reviewed. Until that time, the absence of data supporting the safety and efficacy of these procedures makes their recommendation untenable.
ACOG also states “these procedures are not medically indicated.”
Fine, so why doesn’t the College help start trials to disprove this notion amongst some specialists and women that these plastic surgery procedures actually work and improve sexual health?
It seems that there are complicating issues involving professional jealousy, rivalry and questions of the ethics involved.
A gynecologist in Los Angeles called David Matlock patents all these designer vaginoplasties. In case you missed what you just read, these are patented procedures. Matlock teaches these procedures to other interested specialists for $50,000 only. Yeah, you read it right this time! 50 big ones to learn designer vaginoplasty.
Obviously, Matlock’s institute is promoting this surgery in a big way and making money, as are those who have learnt from him.
Philosophically, it seems, the American College is unable to accept this. A small coterie of doctors making moolah on new procedures they are unwilling to teach for free is inflammatory to the rest of the breed.
ACOG is also concerned with the ethical issues associated with the marketing and national franchising of cosmetic vaginal procedures. A business model that controls the dissemination of scientific knowledge is troubling, according to the new committee opinion. “When a new surgical procedure or a variation of an established surgical procedure is developed, physicians typically do not attempt to keep it proprietary or restrict who can perform the procedure,” said Dr. Berenson (a member of the Committee that came out with the warning).
But isn’t this standard business practice in life? Patenting drugs, products and even ideas is part of reality. Yes, it is true, if all procedures were patented, none of us would have been complete surgeons. Knowledge has always been freely disseminated to medical students and doctors.
However, in recent history, new procedures have not been freely shared. Laparoscopic gall bladder removal, for example, used to be (and still is) taught in paid courses. Those who didn’t have the wherewithal to afford these courses never learnt it, or did so only when the procedure became common. The same can be said of many other, newer, procedures. We are seeing something very similar here. The only difference is that a pioneer of a procedure has actually patented a set of operations so that he will make money if someone else wants to adopt them. This is the free market in surgery, and trust the plastic surgery industry to cash in on it!
If the procedures truly benefit the women who go for them, the ACOG will be standing by the highway while the market runs away to newer unexplored terrain. Of course, conceptually, it is difficult for us to accept surgical alteration of normal organs. It has never been thought of before. But is this mere fact enough reason to condemn it?
If the results are not good, or if the surgeries are unsafe, the market will banish the purveyors of these designer surgeries.
Incidentally, The Wall Street Journal had this to say about David Matlock:
He has been quoted in other publications as saying he has treated more than 3,000 women and trained 140 doctors. In 1998, the Medical Board of California tried to revoke his license, alleging insurance fraud, dishonesty and negligent care to two patients, according to state records. In 2000, Dr. Matlock settled with the board and was placed on probation for four years.
It seems Matlock is living on borrowed time, but may retire wealthier beyond imagination!
(I can’t resist an aside that similar augmentation procedures could also tried for males focused exclusively on where their maximum intelligence resides, the penis. If nothing else, the G-spot will cease to be a nebulous point of focus of the sexes. That would not be a small achievement in man-woman interaction!)
Related reading: The Female Vagina And The Rainbow Of Fire