Dr. Riddhi Shukla is a practicing gynaecologist since two decades. She is one of the pioneers in the field of cosmetic gynaecology in the country. She is the first to be a certified cosmetic gynaecologist from the European College of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery, Vienna. In an exclusive interview with Urban Vaastu, she speaks about her approach to her patients, passion for her profession and determination to shun taboos about women health. Excerpts:
By KOMAL RAO AND TILLANA DESAI
What you are practicing is very unique and unconventional. What gave you the idea to venture into cosmetic gynaecology?
I heard about cosmetic gynaecology field a few years back and started studying in depth. I then traced a world class institute in Europe that provide training in this field. I enrolled myself and got selected to undergo training at the European College of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery.
I feel, if you are not happy with your face or breast you opt for cosmetic treatments. In the same way, if one has a normal vulva, and one is not happy with it, one can opt for cosmetic vaginal surgeries. There are more than 400 normal variants of vulva, it is not necessary that only in the case of an abnormality one needs to opt for aesthetic modification.
Are there any institutes in India that provide training in this field?
No, we do not have any such training courses in India. In the western world, these things are more common. People are more open about their intimate health problems and their sex and sexuality. This branch is developing very fast in the Western world where as the scenario in India is very different.
There are a lot of times when women do not talk about their intimate health problems fearing stigma. This often leads to several physical and emotional issues.Many of the times leading to depression or relationship issues.
Currently, these kinds of courses are available in Europe and some parts of America. Hopefully, India will catch on soon.
With no option but to get trained abroad, are Indian doctors equipped with certification to perform such surgeries?
I have not heard of any gynaecologist who has undergone official training. I am the first one from my state to be certified by the European College of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery, Vienna.
I won’t say that these surgeries are purely new because people have been undergoing such ‘secrect surgeries’ for quite a while. Many a times gynaecologists do not claim about performing such surgeries sometimes patients don’t accept undergoing such surgeries, however vaginal tightening is an age old procedure.
These days, it is possible to create a vagina in girls with an absent vagina since birth. Now with cosmetic gynaecology steadily developing, a lot of new outlooks for these procedures have been introduced.
What is the response of society to this concept?
Since I came back from my training, I am trying to sensitize women about their problems. There are two aspects of aesthetic vaginal surgery, one is discomfort and the other is desire. If a woman has some external abnormalities in her genitalia since birth or developed in her life journey in terms of labial dissymmetry in size or shape or discoloration , women do not speak about these.
Sometimes, after childbirth or in an ageing process the vulva and vagina undergoes several damages leading to laxity of vagina, urinary leakage, pain, irritation or dryness. This is sadly considered as a part of ‘childbirth.’ Such problems must be examined by an expert immediately to avoid leading on to more serious health issues.
Women no longer get scared entering into relationships or getting married thanks to asthetic modification.
I have started meeting and interacting with small groups to sensitize them towards intimate health. If they themselves are sensitized only then you can sensitize their spouse or family about a genuine problem.
Does the training you have acquired in Europe need a lot of infrastructure or specialised equipment?
There are two kinds of therapy: one is surgical, the other is non-surgical. Non-surgical therapies are done with fillers, Botox, laser and sometimes electro frequency machines.
Dr. Riddhi Shukla: Women Vitality – Feminine Forever
Dr. Riddhi Shukla is the Director of Aarogyam Speciality Hospital and GKSF Urocare. She is Gujarat’s first qualified Cosmetic Gynaecologist and the Co-Founder of Naari, Health café (A centre for preventive health care & emotional wellbeing.) She is also a regular guest speaker at several national academic events. She is also an active member of FOGSI, S-Setu Ahmedabad University. Under the banner of Women Vitality, she intends to raise awareness about the sensitive issue of women’s health by providing:
» Preventive Healthcare
» Pre-marital counselling
» Ante-Natal care
» Midlife counselling
» Cosmetic Vaginal Surgery www.womenvitality.net
It is only necessary to familiarize oneself with these machines else it they are very easy to perform and people are getting them done without any problems for other parts of the body.
When it comes to surgical therapies, labial or valvar surgeries require training.
While nonsurgical therapies require guidance, for use of any machines, it is essential to undergo proper training due to the sensitivity of the areas.
Can you shed some light on these surgeries?
As I said, Surgical vaginal tightening has been performed since ages. A new non-invasive treatment called laser vaginal rejuvenation has recently been introduced.
It is a non-invasive procedure with no down time. In 15 – 20 minutes it is done. In the western world, it is called a ‘lunch break’ procedure or ‘coffee break’ procedure where women get these performed in between office hours.
In the same way, G spot augmentation or vulvar bleaching are day care procedures where patients can go home in half an hour.
Are these safe and affordable?
I feel there is a hype created about the prices! When the term ‘aesthetic surgery’ comes up people feel it will be very expensive. It’s not like that. The procedures are not as expensive as other plastic surgeries. I have seen young women face several issues post child birth. They are minor issues like urinary leakage issues. Their social life is at stake, their married life is at stake, the happiness of childbirth is totally taken away by these problems which causes a lot of emotional and psychological stress. When we consider emotional or psychological happiness versus the money, it is not ‘non-affordable’.
If you are trained properly and not overdoing them, they fall in the safety guidelines. But since this is a new and upcoming field, not much research has been done, thus people are very anxious about doing or not doing them.
Would you like to say something for our readers?
Today’s teens are very confused about their sex and sexuality. They end up researching their problems on Google. I will say Google is the worst doctor on earth! With information, it also gives you misbelief.
As the generation is changing, we being parents need to address the teenager’s requirements and knowledge. There is no school in India which provides proper sex education to teenagers so they end up with the wrong information on STDs or other infections. We need to address and sensitize all age groups about their health and sexual health.
The World Health Organisation has defined sexual health as “a state of physical, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality. It requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination and violence.”
It is a different health that must be addressed for both genders in all ages. To reach out to more people in a proper manner is very important.
There are a lot of controversies in the world because the terms ‘Barbie doll vagina’ or ‘designer vagina’ are generally attributed to porn stars or the likes. This is stereotyping. Women can also have discomfort about their external genitalia or due to excessive laxity. These tend to hamper their sexual life. Sexual gratification at a certain age may be required. Women no longer get scared entering into relationships or getting married thanks to asthetic modification. It is not always about cosmetic surgery, these therapies also ease mental and physical discomforts like urinary incontinence, vaginal atrophy or irritation.
Do you have tie-ups with any centres or are these surgeries performed in these premises?
I have tie-ups with several laser centres. In this kind of field patients require a lot of counselling and a lot of privacy. I try to make sure that the patient’s privacy and dignity is maintained.