Labiaplasty May Be Covered by Insurance, Notes Chicago-area Plastic Surgeon Allan Parungao, MD

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Labiaplasty, a plastic surgery procedure to reshape the inner vaginal lips, may be considered medically necessary when large or uneven labia minora are causing recurrent infections or problems with urination or feminine hygiene. In cases like these, Chicago-area plastic surgeon Allan Parungao, MD, works with patients to help get the procedure covered by their health insurance.

Allan Parungao, MD, FACS

Like any plastic surgery, labiaplasty may be covered by health insurance when it is deemed medically necessary—not simply cosmetic surgery.

New statistics from the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery reveal a 100.7% increase in the number of vaginal rejuvenation procedures performed on American women from 2008 to 2009. One of the most popular of these procedures is labiaplasty.

"For women who suffer from large or uneven labia minora--a condition known as labial hypertrophy--labiaplasty can give the inner vaginal lips a more trim, youthful look," says board-certified plastic surgeon Allan Parungao, MD, FACS.

"Labiaplasty reduces and/or balances the size of the inner lips of the vulva, or external female genitals," explains Dr. Parungao, author of A Woman's Guide to Cosmetic Breast Surgery and Body Contouring. "After labiaplasty, the labia minora no longer protrude outside the outer vaginal lips.

"Like any plastic surgery, labiaplasty may be covered by health insurance when it is deemed medically necessary--not simply cosmetic surgery," says Dr. Parungao. "Of course, whether a patient's labiaplasty procedure is covered by insurance also depends on the terms of her policy.

"Labial hypertrophy is considered a medical problem when it causes recurrent infections and irritation," he explains. In cases like this, Dr. Parungao's office writes letters and submits documentation to the patient's insurer--and often gets the procedure approved for coverage.

This was the case with "Jennifer," a 30-year-old newlywed from New Jersey who recently traveled to Chicago for labiaplasty. Like thousands of women with large or uneven labia, Jennifer had been silently enduring:

  • Painful sex and embarrassment in intimate relationships
  • Persistent moisture, chafing, irritation and recurrent infections
  • Embarrassment and discomfort when wearing a bathing suit or tight-fitting jeans

"When I hit my early 20s, I was having a lot of medical conditions such as recurring yeast infections," Jennifer recalls. "I went to see loads of doctors and no one really had an answer for me.

"I'd always been uncomfortable in my clothing--irritated constantly," she adds. "I couldn't even wear certain underwear. But when it started taking a toll on my marriage, I said, 'Let me see if other women are doing something to take care of this.'"

"Some women first find out about labiaplasty when they stumble upon it on the Internet," notes Dr. Parungao--and this was true with Jennifer.

"I started looking things up online to see if there was a procedure and I found the medical term for it," Jennifer recalls. "All the reasons women were giving for labiaplasty were my reasons.

"I sent Dr. P a heartfelt letter explaining everything I was going through," she says. "I was having sexual trouble at home--I wouldn't even let my husband touch me. I would freak out if he walked in on me when I was in the shower.

"Dr. P wrote back right away and said, 'Send me a couple of pictures and I'll review them,'" Jennifer recalls.

"I never felt comfortable talking to anybody about this problem--not even my mom--until recently, when I told her I was trying to go for labiaplasty," Jennifer admits. "When she took the pictures for me, she said, 'I understand. You must be really uncomfortable.' And I was--physically and emotionally.

"After I sent Dr. Parungao my pictures, he said I had a very strong case," Jennifer recalls. "He submitted the paperwork to my insurance company. It took a lot of going back and forth, but they did cover it."

Jennifer and her husband traveled from New Jersey to Chicago on a Monday. She had a consultation on Tuesday, surgery on Wednesday, a follow-up visit on Thursday--and went home to New Jersey later that day.

"Now I'm so comfortable in my jeans!" says Jennifer. "Things feel so much better--and it looks cute now," she adds. "It feels like what it always should have felt like."

For more information about labiaplasty, visit http://www.parungao.com/body-contouring/labiaplasty.

Allan Parungao, MD, FACS, is a plastic surgeon and author board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. He has Chicago-area offices in Oak Brook, Naperville and Vernon Hills, Ill. For more information, visit http://www.parungao.com.

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