F. Birchman / MSNBC.com
By msnbc.com contributor
msnbc.com contributor
updated 6/9/2005 2:08:23 PM ET 2005-06-09T18:08:23

When I first interviewed Toronto doctor Robert H. Stubbs way back in 1994, he was a pioneer of a new surgical technique that could add length to a man’s penis. He learned the basics of the procedure from a Chinese physician named Dr. Long.

Yes, Stubbs. Long. Penis lengthening. (I’ll pause here while you rifle through the jokes…)

At the time, Stubbs (alright, get over it) told me he never imagined that his medical practice would one day be swamped with men looking for longer, beefier penises, but once word got out that he performed the surgery, men from all over North America were calling.

Soon, other plastic surgeons and some urologists caught the entrepreneurial bug and the next thing you know you couldn’t pick up a sports page without seeing an ad promising to make you the next John Holmes. And then, says Stubbs, women came to him and said, “Well, if you’re looking after the guys, why not us?”

Now, he says, he sees far more women seeking to alter their genital layout than he does men.

This is partly because penis-lengthening surgery is not quite the trivial exercise some doctors made it out to be. The American Urological Association says procedures involving the cutting of the suspensory ligament of the penis — the way most operations are done — has “not been shown to be safe or effective.” The operation also requires extensive after-care, including, insists Stubbs, a regimen of hanging weights off your ding-dong, and even after all that the results are not typically spectacular.

Some men still come to surgeons for penis lengthening, of course, but now fat injection to increase girth is becoming more common. This, despite the fact that fat injection isn’t approved by the urological association either. Some men are also having testicle implants and scrotum reductions, but the numbers are not huge.

Women, meanwhile, have become much more assertive in their own desire for sexual gratification and cosmetic enhancement. They are coming to plastic surgeons, ob-gyns and a hybrid specialist called a urogynecologist for procedures to nip the inner labia, plump the outer labia, tighten the vagina and even restore the hymen, the little membrane that breaks during first intercourse (or for any number of reasons before ever having intercourse like riding a mountain bike or a horse, or just falling on a playground).

The Toronto trim, and more
Stubbs performs what he calls “the Toronto trim,” a combo procedure that includes a reduction of the inner labia and a slight “unhooding” of the clitoris so the little man in the boat isn’t being quite so reclusive.

Women are just beginning to have another new procedure, too: G-spot enhancement. More about that later.

In case you think this is yet another sign we’re all going to hell in a giant SUV loaded with sub-zero freezers and TIVO, and looking gorgeous all the way, well, maybe you’re right. But Wendy Lewis, the self-crowned “knife coach,” a consultant who matches a worldwide female clientele seeking cosmetic procedures with medical practitioners, says the surgeries are big in both Europe and the U.S. In Los Angeles local magazines are stuffed with ads promising to give women the yoni of their youth.

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After Dr. Gary Alter, who practices in both Beverly Hills and New York, performed a labia reduction on the makeover show “Dr. 90210,” “it brought lots of women out of the closet. I got massive amounts of e-mails and phone calls.”

The reasons for the popularity of genital makeovers should be familiar to regular readers of Sexploration. As we’ve seen, pubic hair grooming has become practically a must. When all that hair gets shaved or waxed off, the naughty bits become much more obvious. We can see what’s up down there. And men and women are watching more porn these days, looking at the newly visible private parts, and comparing. Just as women clamored for the Jennifer Aniston hairdo during the early “Friends” era, men and women want to be as pretty down there as the people they see on their TV screen or in magazines.

“People have suggested they’ve looked at Playboy or Penthouse,” confirms Dr. Ronald Blatt, medical director of the Manhattan Center for Vaginal Surgery. “They come in and say, ‘Make it look like that.’”

Men and women also have these surgeries to impress each other. “I even had one older female client who was having a torrid affair with a man who was her junior by a decade, and she had some work done just to please him,” Lewis says. “I had another lady from Saudi Arabia who had five children by the time she was 30, and was planning to go to Switzerland for [tightening] surgery so that she could keep her husband happy and interested.”

This sort of thing has been condemned by some for the rather obvious reason that none of us needs any more sources of insecurity.

But the example of Lewis’ client who had the children also points to the fact that women do this for themselves, too, in the hopes of enhancing their own pleasure. This particular woman had what is known as “vaginal tightening,” a procedure to firm up the outer ring of muscle leading into the vagina. Childbirth stretches this muscle and it may never fully recover, even with months of Kegel exercises (and every woman should do Kegel exercises).

'No guarantee'
Men like the results of the surgery because it makes for a tighter fit and women like it, say doctors who perform it, because, well, it makes for a tighter fit. Some doctors advertise that the surgery can radically enhance a woman’s sexual experience, but Blatt worries this is over promising. “I hope women become more sexually satisfied but there is no guarantee.”

Hymen-recreation is important to some women, like those from conservative Muslim families, who may not be virgins, but would like a prospective mate to think so. Stubbs points out that young rape victims can also be given recreated hymens.

Extra large labia can become a nuisance or even painful to women. “One patient recently came in and said, ‘I have been bothered by this for 15 years. In all that time this is my happiest day,'" Blatt recalls.

The latest in juicy bit augmentation is the G-spot enhancement. Techniques for this vary but the point is to plump up the G-spot to make it more prominent, easier to find and more easily stimulated by a penis. Stubbs is experimenting with hyaluronic acid, the fluid that lubricates our joints. (It is also used in cosmetic procedures as a skin filler to erase wrinkles.) Others use collagen injections.

According to Stubbs, women love the results. Though doctors and scientists still debate if there is such a thing as a G-spot, Stubbs believes it is a collection of nerves on the same nerve highway as the clitoris. He says some African patients now living in Toronto who were forced to undergo genital cutting to remove their clitorises can now experience vaginal orgasms after having the G-spot injections.

Other women, he says, “are just very happy.”

Brian Alexander is a California-based writer who covers sex, relationships and health. He is a contributing editor at Glamour and the author of "Rapture: How Biotech Became the New Religion" (Basic Books).

Sexploration appears every other Thursday.

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