Northwestern University

Thu 12:00 PM

The History of Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery: Marginal to Mainstream - Sarah Rodriguez

recurring see all events in this series

When: Thursday, October 26, 2017
12:00 PM - 12:45 PM  

Where: Robert H Lurie Medical Research Center, 1st floor, Searle Seminar room, 303 E. Superior, Chicago, IL 60611 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Bryan Morrison   312.503.1927

Group: Medical Humanities & Bioethics Lunchtime Montgomery Lectures

Category: Lectures & Meetings

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The Master of Arts in Medical Humanities and Bioethics Program presents

A Montgomery Lecture


Sarah Rodriguez, PhD

Faculty, Medical Humanities & Bioethics Graduate Program
Lecturer, Medical Education
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine 

Lecturer, Global Health Studies
Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences
Northwestern University

Member, Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine 

The History of Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery: Marginal to Mainstream

Is female genital cosmetic surgery going mainstream? So queried the headline of a June 2017 news article in Ob.Gyn. News reporting on a debate held at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist’s (ACOG) annual clinical meeting in May 2017. The question of whether these surgeries were becoming mainstream was based in part on a report that 12,666 labiaplasties had been performed in 2016 in the United States, an increase of 39 percent from 2015, according to the American Society for Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery. What was driving this growth? According to Cheryl Iglesia, a physician who engaged in the ACOG debate regarding FGCS, it was the “highly-curated, and extensively retouched, images on social media and the mainstream media” which were “leaving women and men with little idea of the real range of normal female external genitalia.” Implicit in the above question is that FGCS had not been mainstream, that surgeries like labiaplasty had once been uncommon. Assuming that FGCS – surgeries that include the removal of parts of the labia, clitoral unhooding, and tightening the vagina – are ‘going mainstream,’ how did surgeries that were once considered uncommon rise to the point of possibly becoming standard surgical offerings within plastic surgery and gynecology? In this talk, I look at the trajectory of the move from an uncommon procedure to an increasingly used one, and place this move within the context of changes in medical practice.

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