Hymenoplasty, a controversial procedure used to stitch up the torn hymen in girls in Asia, and Latin America, is rapidly gaining popularity in the United States , for different reasons.
Vaginal surgery, including the reattaching the hymen - long considered the only positive proof of virginity - is one of the fastest growing plastic surgery segments, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons says.
Gynecologists who market hymenoplasty say that business is booming for the procedure that some undergo to improve their sex lives and enhance their self-esteem.
The procedure, also known as "revirgination", is being advertised in magazines, the Internet and on radio stations as a way for women to improve their sex life or enjoy a second honeymoon. Middle-aged women who were not virgins when they got married are opting for revirgination as a sentimental gift to their husbands.
"Revirgination" can be had for as little as $1,800 at some plastic surgery clinics in New York.
While some criticized the surgery as dishonest and immoral, hymen repair dates back to the rise of midwives, said June Reinisch, director emeritus at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction.
In Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, where there is a heavy premium on virginity at the time of marriage, hymenoplasty is being practiced for ages.
Mary Blum, author of Flesh Wounds: The Culture of Cosmetic Surgery, is highly concerned about the fact that such a surgery was becoming acceptable in mainstream America and was being marketed as a way to gain self-esteem or acceptability. Such procedures were gaining in popularity in part because they were being touted as a consumer product rather than as invasive — and potentially dangerous — surgery.