Though the recession has blunted overall demand for cosmetic surgeries, one subcategory appears to be entering a growth phase, at least judging from the fifth annual Congress on Aesthetic Vaginal Surgery, held late last year in a luxury resort outside Tucson. There, about 60 doctors, most of them OB-GYNs, converged to discuss the expanding field of “cosmetic-gyn”—elective surgeries for women seeking to “rejuvenate” and/or “beautify” their vaginas. Attendance at the conference has been increasing by about 20 percent each year—one doctor there explained that his services are in such demand, he has multiple operating rooms so he can move quickly from one surgery to the next—and last year a competing conference was held at the Venetian in Las Vegas.
The affable organizer of the Tucson event, Dr. Red Alinsod, was an early entrant into cosmetic-gyn, and is recognized for inventing the procedure in which the labia minora are completely amputated to create a “smooth” genital look known in the field as “the Barbie.” Though he began his career by winning a prestigious fellowship in gynecology-oncology at Yale in 1990, Alinsod now spends his days making genitalia “look pretty” for the wealthy patients who flock to his Southern California practice from all over the world. He is also an evangelist for the field, spreading its lucrative gospel to fellow doctors tired of toiling in the time-intensive and high-liability fields of traditional obstetrics and gynecology.