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Labioplasty - a complicated issue

(15 Posts)
virginonabreakdown Tue 14-Jun-11 12:48:46

When my teenage daughter approached me with 'mum, I think I have a problem...' 18 months ago I was not quite expecting this. Our female GP has agreed there is a problem and that she can get the op done on the NHS when the 'time is right'. A few weeks later I found myself in a Consultants room discussing the size of my daughters intimate parts as if they were her teeth - surreal. As she approaches 17 the problem is giving her much greater deep seated distress as she avoids having boyfriends and worries about wearing bikinis in public. I have had to cox her through some very dark periods as this is hardly something she can chat about with her friends and she lives in fear that someone might 'discover' her problem. Life as a teenager has been complicated enough already. She is determined that she wants the problem 'sorted' out so that she can get on with life (not necessarily sex as she says but just feeling relaxed). I am desperate that when it can be done that it is done well without any further trauma. Does anyone have experience of this?

Schtum Wed 15-Jun-11 16:56:29

Hi virgin

I have not got any experience of this but am sorry that your post has, so far, gone unanswered so I thought I'd leave you a message - for a bit of support for you as much as anything else. This can only be incredibly hard for you, as well as your DD.

Is she lop-sided, as it were, or just over-sized? Is it just the appearance of this area that worries her or is there discomfort or a functional problem that is causing her distress? I don't understand why wearing a bikini would post a problem - surely everything is contained in her briefs? Or is it just that the whole business has left her underconfident and shy of swimwear in general?

OK... So the GP says that the NHS will offer a procedure and you have seen a consultant. She's nearly 17.

I think that if I were in your position I would be trawling the internet for information but presumably you're already doing this.

If she's going to have it done, clearly it is vitally important that it is performed by the very top person in this field, to minimise the small risk of resultant loss of sensitivity to as teeny and negligible a risk as possible. So, how did you feel about the Consultant that you saw? Have you got any medical friends who you could speak to in confidence as to who is the best gynaecologist (or is it a plastic surgeon?) for this type of procedure. It may be that the first Consultant that you saw is The One - perhaps the GP has referred you to him/ her for a reason? I'd be apt to try to ascertain, though, that labiaplasty is his/ her specialist area and that he/ she is not just a jobbing OB/GYN who rarely performs this operation.

If you think this person is The One and you have more questions and need more time before committing to the procedure, would you consider calling his private secretary and paying for a one-off private consultation with him (I'm guessing £100 max?). In the scheme of things, it's not a lot to pay if the operation is being done on the NHS and you want to feel very confident before she is admitted.

If you don't have a good strong "yes" feeling about this first person, I would hold off and do more research. Perhaps you could make another appointment with your GP if he/ she is lovely and ask about any other surgeons who else could be a possibility.

One thing to say though - whilst a kind and reassuring "bed-side" manner can be very seductive, I would concentrate primarily on the surgical skills and experience of the Consultant. It's his technical expertise in the theatre that is the most important issue here, not how holdy-handy he is.

My heart goes out to your DD, bless her, and to you to. No-one wishes for this but if it's such an issue for her and she wants to do something about it, I guess you have to dig deep as a Mum and support her.

I'd be interested to know how things pan out, virgin, would you update this thread and let me know how things develop?

Poor little thing. I send you both every good wish and hope that everything goes swimmingly and turns out very, very well. Very best wishes to you both.

ThePrincessRoyalFiggyrolls Wed 15-Jun-11 17:03:36

Oh your poor dd, and its not as if being a teenager isn't hard enough is it!

Good that you have discussed the issue, have they decided what sort of age she could have the labioplasty? Is it something that you are happy to support now? Imho this is completely different to wanting to have your boobs increased at that age as I am not sure how much this part of your body changes over time and with age. However I wanted to come and bump this one for you in the hope someone can come along and help you. My limited experience is watching it on tv!

virginonabreakdown Wed 15-Jun-11 19:28:45

Really appreciate such sound advice Schtum, can't agree more about making sure the end result is what is important. She is physically uncomfortable a lot of the time, particularly with using tampons and so finds it difficult to forget about it entirely. I am sure this exacerbates her self conciousness about it and her sense of being vulnerable in a bikini which she feels she has to adjust to make sure nothing is showing. As you can imagine many hours trawling the internet which leaves you realising there are many others out there suffering, but also left me feeling rather queasy and no less certain about things. Good point about asking medical friends - will take a deep breath and discuss this with DDs Godmother who is a doctor. As I said not something I have discussed over coffee with anyone and judging from the almost clamouring silence on my post perhaps still too uncomfortable a subject for many. As you say Figgyrolls this is very different from boobs and whilst we all may end up a bit ropey down there after a few kids, starting out this way particularly for this generation is unbelievably tough. Thanks both for your words.

ThePrincessRoyalFiggyrolls Wed 15-Jun-11 20:39:08

Good luck with your journey and with your dd's journey virgin, I really hope its a smooth one for you.

darleneoconnor Wed 15-Jun-11 20:44:03

I'd just say make sure the problem is physical and not mostly a psychological problem before resorting to surgery. If she has the surgery then it turns out it was mostly a psychological problem ger fixation will just switch to another part of her body, and then where does it end? Has she had any counselling?

alice15 Wed 15-Jun-11 20:55:26

Mm, I think darlene has a good point. One of my daughters has a great many issues about her appearance - every tiny variation (not even imperfections) which she feels deviates from the ideal airbrushed norm is a huge deal for her. I am pretty sure that if one area were magically improved then another would become a problem for her.
If two doctors have said your daughter could have surgery on the NHS, then presumably there is a physical issue that really exists, but I agree that she (and you) need to be sure it's the only problem. Do you think she is happy with her body otherwise? Is it just one issue which would really go away in her mind if it were dealt with, like sticking-out ears or a birthmark, or might her issues remain after surgery? It would be awful for her to go through such a traumatic thing and still be as worried about things afterwards. What a horrible position for you both - I do sympathise.

BusyBodd Wed 15-Jun-11 21:45:26

Assuming you're in the UK there was an item on this on Embarrassing bodies TV programme, and they have some info on their site here:

http://www.channel4embarrassingillnesses.com/conditions/enlarged-labia

There are lots of comments at the bottom of the page expressing a range of opinions; it might help you and your daughter to have some more conversations. There are also some pictures showing women with similar things - it might be reassuring for her to know she's not alone.

I feel for you both - being a teenager is hard enough without having to figure out something like this!

Schtum Wed 15-Jun-11 23:04:07

I would suggest that if the GP says that virgin's DD's situation is significant enough for her to be eligible for this procedure on the NHS then it is unlikely that she is simply suffering from some sort of underlying dysmorphia that could result in a "where will it all end" compulsion to persue further cosmetic enhancement.

Furball Thu 16-Jun-11 06:55:17

don't know if this site is any help.

it is literally loads of casts of ladies bits. The artist says, they come in all sorts of shapes and all sorts of sizes (and he's obviously seen quite a few!)

On one of the videos there he says stuff about being sure about surgery etc.
Just thought it might help your dd to see that everyone is not the same smile

Schtum Thu 16-Jun-11 07:29:01

Interesting link Furball to a very thought-provoking piece of work. There are no two alike. Gosh!

ThePrincessRoyalFiggyrolls Thu 16-Jun-11 12:01:25

Funnily enough there was a comment on Embarrassing bodies just last night about surgery on the labia and how in many cases for porn "cosmetic" reasons (god don't those women give the rest of us a lot of grief with their identikit lady bits?) can actually be damaging to other "functions" such as peeing. However I only paid attention because of this thread funnily enough!

That being said your GP obviously feels that this is something to be addressed in the future at some point.

I saw a doc about the vaginal wall a couple of years ago I think and it is very very interesting!

BusyBodd Thu 16-Jun-11 20:40:26

Thanks Furball for the link...what a wonderful piece of work and didn't the male artist seem so decent and respectful; several times when asked about his preference he said he didn't have one and that the person was more important than their bits.

vscott Mon 20-Jun-11 01:06:32

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

Scotsfairy Thu 23-Jun-11 18:56:19

The below documentary covering this subject was on quite recently and was quite interesting:

http://documentaryheaven.com/the-perfect-vagina/

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