Hidden Medical Dangers

Re-Designing the Female Anatomy

Designer shoes and clothes are common, but now women are going under the knife to get "designer" genitals.


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“I’ve been doing this now for 15 years, and anatomically it’s called labiaplasty,” Dr. Ordon says. There is an ideal relationship between the outer lips and the inner lips. [Dr. Lisa] always says, ‘Women have choices,’ right? If it bothers them, let them do it!”


The surgery, also known as genitoplasty, usually involves shortening or changing the shape of the outer lips of the vagina and may also include reduction of the hood of skin covering the clitoris. Women often have the procedure done after giving birth, especially after having multiple births and twins. “It is safe,” Dr. Lisa says. “There are some risks to it, but it’s just like any other cosmetic procedure. Basically [Dr. Ordon] pumps up lips, and I shrink them down.”

Curing an Unknown Sickness

Imagine being sick but no doctor is able to properly diagnose your problem. Forty-year-old Crystal's life has completely turned upside down by a condition that is so unusual and hard to explain, she is afraid to tell her family about it.

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“I feel like bugs are inside of me,” Crystal says. “It feels like something’s actually biting my eye. There’s pinprick sensations on your skin. You get very itchy. It’s totally like a bad science-fiction story. It’s like pure evil, I swear."

Crystal has visit doctors about her condition, but none of them understand or can treat her symptoms.


“The medical society has shunned us,” Crystal adds. “I saw a doctor who told me I was delusional.”


Crystal suffers from Morgellons disease, a rare condition where people affected say that it feels like parasites are crawling under their skin. Symptoms of the disease include: skin lesions, crawling sensations both within and on the skin surface, fatigue, cognitive difficulties, such as short-term memory loss and attention deficits, behavioral effects, and fibers, granules, black specks and fuzzballs reported in and on skin lesions.


Crystal’s symptoms become so overwhelming, she spends most of her time vacuuming her home and washing her bedding in an effort to get rid of what she believes are bugs. She also puts on ointment to reduce the crawling sensation. She has even put bleach directly on her skin to try and stop the sensations.

Crystal has had a difficult time finding treatments for her symptoms because Morgellons disease, however, is not recognized by many in the medical community. Dr. Harvey explains this condition. “The first thing you really need to know about Morgellons is that Morgellons is in no medical book,” says Dr. William T. Harvey, a Morgellons expert who has successfully treated the disease. “In fact, the word wasn’t even brought up from the history of medicine until 2002, [and it was] by a person who’s child had something like [what Crystal suffers from]. [The woman] had no idea how to get it solved, and no physician who could give her an answer. So she wound up going back to the history books and found something that sounded like this from France in the 1600s.”

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Before the disease was known as Morgellons, doctors told patients who had these symptoms they suffered from delusions of parasitosis. “People who had parasites crawling on them and the docs couldn’t find them,” Dr. Harvey says. “The assumption was that it was a delusional problem, that there are no bugs. Patients came to see me being told that they had delusions of parasitotis, but they really looked like they were sick.”


Research on patients showed both emotional and physical problems. By magnifying areas of the skin, Dr. Harvey saw possible causes of their itchiness, such as parasites, bacteria and viruses. He began to understand the disease and found ways to treat it, including using anti-parasitics, anti-bacterials and antibiotics.


“We think the fact that they respond well to treatment just implies that we are dealing with agents.” Dr. Harvey says.


Dr. Travis tells Crystal that Dr. Harvey will take her on as a patient and try to help ease her symptoms. And because more still needs to be learned about Morgellons, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is funding research about the ailment.


“Getting past this disease is not an undoable thing,” Dr. Harvey says.



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OAD 7/9/09