Are you considering vulvo-vaginal cosmetic surgery, whether labiaplasty, vaginoplasty, vaginal reconstruction, vaginal rejuvenation, or something else? Whether you’re located in my home state of California or elsewhere in the United States (or abroad), you need to know what do you look for. What’s the best way to choose the person to trust with your desires, your expectations, your precious vulva and vagina? This blog will present a bare-bones outline designed to help you choose the best surgeon for the job.
1) Start by looking for labiaplasty, vaginoplasty, vaginal reconstruction and vaginal rejuvenation before and after photos, and reviews on a prospective surgeon’s website.
Are they trained and experienced in the specific procedure you want? Have they provided specific, individual pages on their website displaying their knowledge of the procedure? Can they provide proof of their expertise? Proof can come in two forms: either individual before and after photos of at least two dozen procedures performed, and/or specific evidence (Certificate of Completion, etc.) that they’ve been trained by one of the acknowledged trainers in the U.S. or abroad. These trainers are: Dr. Red Alinsod; Dr. Troy Hailparn; Dr. David Matlock; Dr. Marco Pelosi; Dr. Alex Bader; Dr. Adam Ostrzensky, and me — Dr. Michael Goodman (I have personally trained approximately 50 surgeons from 20 states in the U.S., and approximately 25 surgeons from roughly 12 European, South American, Middle Eastern and Asian countries.)
It’s important to note that the expertise that is needed does not come from merely attending a lecture. You need evidence that the surgeon has completed at least a 2-day intensive course. Seeing and reading is believing: if your potential surgeon’s site exhibits very few before and after pictures and/or no evidence of training, STAY AWAY from this surgeon!
2) Make an appointment, either in-person or “virtually”, with at least two different surgeons.
A virtual appointment is one in which you send close up, in-focus photo files of your vulva from several different positions: viewed from above; looking straight-on with your legs spread apart so that the vaginal opening can be seen; and a look from both left and right straight-on angles.
If you have an in-person visit, pay attention to how you are treated by the office personnel! Are they knowledgeable? Do they treat you with respect, ask the right questions, explain and help, or are they curt, busy, and display little-to-no knowledge? When you speak with the doctor, are they easy to communicate with? Do they fully understand your feelings, expected outcome, and what you wish to accomplish both functionally and aesthetically? Do they discuss your anatomy, reasonable expectations, recovery, anesthesia, etc? Finally, are they experienced enough that they are comfortable performing surgery in their in-office surgical suite, under easier-to-recover-from, safer and less expensive local anesthesia (for both labiaplasty and vaginal reconstruction procedures)?
3) Arrangements for immediate and ongoing aftercare are important!
Is this discussed to your satisfaction by both office staff and by the surgeon? Do you feel safe? Has your prospective surgeon carefully discussed all aspects of surgical planning, the procedure itself, pain control methods, immediate and long-term recovery? Have each and every one of your questions been answered?
4) Has your surgeon candidly discussed risk and given you careful and complete Informed Consent?
Meticulous, experienced surgeons take time for this often overlooked aspect of total care, while inexperienced surgeons — or those who are “in too much of a hurry” frequently overlook it. If you will be traveling for your surgery, is the surgeon’s staff helpful in making local arrangements? Do they understand the difficulties you face in returning home a reasonable time after your surgery?
5) Finances are important, and individual surgeon’s fees can give you a window into their experience.
Experienced surgeons are aware that virtually all labial reduction and vaginal tightening surgical procedures are considered cosmetic by insurance companies, who can withdraw preliminary payments to hospital and surgeon if they realize the truth about an individual procedure. Only an inexperienced gynecologist will bill an insurance company for what they call a partial vulvectomy and book your case as a labial amputation.
I’ve been practicing Gynecology, Obstetrics, Genital Aesthetic surgery, and Menopausal and Sexual Medicine for 45 years, and have spent the last 20 years specializing in female genital plastic/cosmetic surgery, vulvar dystrophy and vulvar pain syndromes. I understand the intensely personal and sexual health issues involved in these surgeries, and am dedicated to patients having the best outcomes with the highest levels of safety and comfort. To that end, I’ve authored books and articles, have trained dozens of surgeons nationally and internationally, and have won numerous awards. If you have questions, please contact my office and make arrangements for a personal consultation.