Expert reveals a rising number of women are having £4,000 'saddle surgery' - so they can ride their bicycles more comfortably
4th February, 2016
A rising number of women are opting for major surgery in their nether regions to allow them to ride their bicycles comfortably.
Dubbed 'saddle surgery', the painful procedure involves cutting off part of the inner labia - or labia minora - to stop them from rubbing and being pinched against the seat of their bicycles.
And while the treatment may sound drastic, experts say it is becoming more and more common.
This may be down to the rising number of women getting on their bikes; figures show numbers are up 5 per cent between 2014 and 2015.
Cycling for long periods of time on a hard leather seat can lead to discomfort, as the labia can chafe or become pinched or trapped.
Harley Street surgeon Angelica Kavoumi has noticed a rise in the number of female cyclists asking for the procedure, and consults around nine women about it a week - compared to three women a week just a year ago.
'The procedure has become very popular over the last six years,' she told FEMAIL.
It has been reported in the past that women opting for labioplasty are doing so in a quest for 'designer vaginas' - but Angelica insisted this is rarely the case.
'For most women, it is an issue of comfort,' she explained. 'It's not about body image; it has more to do with sport and quality of life.'
She added that as well as cycling, women are having the surgery for greater comfort when it comes to golf and horse-riding; sporting activities where the labia can be prone to chafing.
'When it comes to the inner labia, there isn't a norm,' she explained. 'They can vary so much in terms of size and shape. Extra tissue can hang down unprotected, sometimes up to 3 or 4cm.'
When exposed to friction this skin, she explained, can cause the tissue to become rough and bleed, and even lead to infections.
She added that the 'saddle surgery' procedure is relatively straightforward, and takes around an hour. Women can choose between general and local anaesthetic, although 'women who have given birth before generally don't mind having local.'
The procedure requires an 'initial recovery' period of 10-14 days while the swelling and bleeding goes down. 'In four to six weeks you can gradually reintroduce activities,' Angelica said. 'It will be up to eight weeks before it's fully comfortable again.'
She said she mainly sees professional women who cycle to work. 'They're active women in their thirties,' she explained. 'Some of them have been thinking about it for years - they don't just jump into it.'
Kate (not her real name), 39, a teacher from Croydon, is one of thousands of women who have booked in for the procedure after months of deliberation.
She said she got into cycling when her sons, now eight and nine, were toddlers.
'I used to take them out around the park,' she told FEMAIL. 'At first, it was fine but as they got better, I'd be on my bike for longer periods of time. It was something I always noticed, but I thought there was nothing I could do about it.'
At first, she would 'pad out' with sanitary towels to stop the chafing. But after she saw a documentary about labiaplasty, she knew it was the solution she'd been looking for.
Her partner paid for the £3,000 procedure as 'he knew it was the answer to an ongoing problem.'
Kate was in and out of hospital within a day, but she still recalls waking up afterwards and feeling 'numb'.
She said: 'The next day, it was swollen and tender, with a lot of bruising. I used sanitary towels for protection but I was off work for a week. Nothing could have prepared me for the bruising.' While she didn't tell her colleagues or her two sons what had happened, she said: 'My friends thought it was hilarious.'
Despite being back on her bike in a month, it was six weeks before Kate was 'fully back to normal'. Once her dissolvable stiches were gone and she was back on her bike, it 'felt really different'.
Kate said: 'It's not purely for cosmetic reasons; everybody is different. I would 100 per cent recommend it for women's confidence and for improving your quality of life.'
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