Insider Perspective: Nicole Sanders, M.A., Caring For Women Wellness Center Co-Manager
Dr. Goodman asked me to write a story about my experience as someone who has a great deal of contact with our genital plastic surgery patients. Although we perform several different procedures, I’ve chosen to write about our patients who have labiaplasty done. I feel I have a stronger connection to them since I have also had a labiaplasty and clitoral hood reduction and can personally relate on so many levels.
My job consists of many duties, but a large part of my day is spent answering phone calls and emails. I would say at least once a day I receive a call or email from a woman who is desperately seeking information about a very intimate and personal subject. They don’t always know the proper terminology; on many occasions don’t even know how to start the conversation or what questions to ask. That’s where I come in, reassuring them that I know what they are going through and that they need not be embarrassed. I let them know nothing they can say will shock me.
Although these women are of different age groups, ethnicities, backgrounds and of course have their own stories, we share many similarities. Almost all women complain of being uncomfortable in form-fitting clothing and swim suits and with doing exercises like bike riding or running, or even with what most would consider a minor activity such as walking up a few flights of stairs.
Of course, sexual intercourse also causes discomfort and pain. Some women say that because they’re unhappy with the appearance of their labia, they have abstained from being sexually active, have not allowed their partner to see them without clothes on, and only make love with the lights off. In some cases, the women refrained from being in a romantic relationship completely.
All of them are being held back in their everyday lives in one way or another. Something I also find important is that most women speak of a loving, caring, supportive partner who has never said anything negative about their physical appearance and had no influence on their decision to have labiaplasty performed. Most of these women have a partner who just wants them to be happy with themselves.
The most fulfilling part of my job is when a patient comes in to have their surgery done. I have been able to be there along the entire process assisting them in this very special decision. On many occasions, I am also by their side assisting Dr. Goodman during their procedure. I have become close to many of these ladies by this time and love seeing everyone’s hard work come full circle. Being there to see a patient’s reaction to seeing themselves for the first time after surgery is extremely touching. They are always so grateful to all of us involved.
I am honored to be a part of this type of practice and hope that those of you reading this find it helpful and enlightening in some way. Mostly, however, I really hope that you women out there, who have feelings similar to our patients and me, now know that you are NOT alone and find some comfort in that.
Erin’s Story: Successful Labiaplasty Offers Renewed Hope and Happiness
Erin was a 20-year-old vibrant and intelligent college student living here in Davis. She came to see us, along with her mother Sherry, for a consultation for labiaplasty. Erin was very shy, and her mother was uninformed and curious about what exactly her young daughter was interested in having done and why.
After Erin’s visit, they called the office a few times, both with general questions about the process and procedure as well as to inquire about my own personal thoughts, opinions and experiences. I was happy to disclose any and all information possible to ensure that they were both comfortable and confident with the decision to proceed.
Approximately three weeks after her initial visit, Erin decided to go ahead with her surgery. She again was accompanied by her mother; both were visibly and understandably nervous. That’s when they were both greeted by our experienced, warm, caring and friendly registered nurse. She introduces herself to Erin, shaking her hand, “Hi, I’m Lisa, your nurse, and I’ll be taking care of you today.”
Lisa has two young adult children of her own and could empathize with the mixed bag of emotions Sherry was experiencing. Lisa comforted Erin’s mom saying, “Don’t worry, she’s in good hands. I’ll be by her side the whole time.” Both patient and parent took a deep breath and shared a hug before Erin was brought back to the surgical suite.
The procedure went well. After completion of her procedure, Erin was ready to view her results and requested that her mom be present as well. Together, they took a look at her newly reconstructed labia. Even immediately after surgery, with stitches all over the place, Erin was overjoyed with the difference; she couldn’t help but shed a few tears. This in turn caused her mother to become emotional as well, and they embraced as they shared this unique and memorable moment.
When Erin returned for her one month post-operative visit, she came in a different young lady, smiling and bubbly. She also had with her a gift, a big hug and “THANK YOU!” for Dr. Goodman. She was so excited and looking forward to the new experiences she felt were now going to be possible for her—the things she was hesitant to do before having surgery.
It’s these kinds of stories that make what we do here at Dr. Goodman’s office so rewarding. Erin’s story of transformation is one of many, and I look forward to even more in the future.
For more information about genital cosmetic surgery, vulva-vaginal aesthetics, including labiaplasty in California and other areas, visit www.drmichaelgoodman.com.