Center Assistant Professor Dr. Devan Stahl and co-author Christian J. Vercler (University of Michigan) have an article in the April 2018 issue of the AMA Journal of Ethics. Their article, “What Should Be the Surgeon’s Role in Defining “Normal” Genital Appearance?,” appears in the journal’s issue on ethical considerations in plastic and reconstructive surgery.
Abstract: The recent rise in women seeking cosmetic surgery of their genitalia (labiaplasty) coincides with the increasing number of surgeons posting videos of these operations on social media accounts and websites. Sociocultural influences significantly contribute to our ideas of what constitutes healthy and pathologic, and surgeons have historically played a role in defining “normal” and “abnormal” anatomy. In the nineteenth century, Saartjie Baartman—a woman with a large posterior and unusually long labia minora—was used by physicians to “educate” the public about these differences. We examine the parallels with the twenty-first century practice of surgeons using social media to educate patients about the operations they perform and discuss ethical and professional hazards associated with this practice.
The full article text is available online via the American Medical Association.