Medical Treatments

OK for Underage Teens to Have Cosmetic Genital Surgery?

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Reader Question:

I am 16 in Orange County and want a labia reduction. Can I have it without telling my parents?

For those of you who may not know, labiaplasty (sometimes called labioplasty) is an operation to change the shape of the labiae, a woman’s outer genitals. It can be performed for cosmetic or functional concerns. Some women with large labiae experience pain with tighter garments and in rare circumstances they can get in the way of sexual relations. The operations are different things to different surgeons and have been controversial to say the least.

Quite a bit in the practice of surgery of the privates is a matter of the surgeon’s philosophy. This includes the design and scope of the operation as we’ve mentioned. Traditionally for any surgery on a patient under the age of legal consent, a legal guardian (usually a parent) must consent.

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Labiaplasty surgery modifies a patient’s private anatomy permanently. Although I take the chance of being criticized here, I would say a parent’s consent for an underage patient strikes me the wrong way. Unless the circumstances are very unusual, I would rather wait for the patient to reach the age of legal consent before making such a decision about permanent modifications to her privates. A mother’s consent to reduce her daughter’s genitalia just doesn’t seem right.

As an aside, this situation has not materialized in my labiaplasty practice and I have been doing them for over 10 years.

Best Regards,

John Di Saia MD