Hymenoplasty is a surgical procedure performed by a few cosmetic plastic surgeons that recreates the hymen after it has been ruptured or torn.
What is the hymen?
The hymen is a thin membrane of mucosa that separates the upper three quarters of the vagina from the lower quarter. It is formed in the embryo as the point where two different structures that make up the female genital tract, the Mullerian ducts and the urogenital sinus meet.
The hymen has no known significant function. It is also seen in other mammals.
The hymen grows during childhood, becoming thicker, with the opening slowly enlarging by an estimated 1 millimetre per year after puberty.
Though often thought of as a sign of sexual virginity, an intact hymen is in fact not a reliable indicator of such. Many women have hymens that are not fully formed, have only a partial covering of the vaginal opening or are mere strands of tissue without ever having had sex! They are just born that way.
Causes for rupture of the hymen
Hymens can be ruptured due to:
- Sexual intercourse
- Tampon use
- Bicycling or horse riding
- Other forms of exercise
The techniques for Hymen repair fall into two main groups:
- For patients who have some remnant hymen tissue available, the free edges can be excised so they bleed and then sutured together to recreate the hymen with a small opening.
- For patients who have no remaining hymen tissue, the hymen can be re-created by forming mucosal folds from the vaginal tissues both above and below the hymen.
This cosmetic surgery is an outpatient surgery that takes about an hour and is performed under local anesthesia.
Patients can return to work in a day or two.
Reasons for hymen repair
Women will want to undergo this surgery for a number of different reasons that may be personal, religious or cultural.
The important thing is for women to know that these surgeries are available to them should they find themselves requiring one.
This surgery is purely cosmetic, and there is no functional or medical reason to have it done.