The G-Shot -- Is it the latest panacea to improve your love life?
Justin Berton, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, June 3, 2007
Karen Roberts scheduled an appointment with her plastic surgeon at the end of a long day. The 22-year-old student at Solano Community College attended morning classes, caught up with homework and took her 4-year-old daughter to a matinee.
By 4 p.m. she sat inside Dr. Justin Salerno's office, readying to become the surgeon's first patient to receive an injection called a G-Shot, also known as G-spot Amplification. With a 3 1/2-inch needle, Salerno would pump a small dose of collagen into his patient's Grafenberg Spot and make it swell to the size of a quarter.
The G-spot has been the subject of lore and controversy since it was first identified in 1950 by the German gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg. Some sexologists believe the small area behind the pubic bone and accessible through the anterior wall of the vagina is an erogenous zone that when stimulated leads to heightened sexual arousal and powerful orgasms. Others dispute the zone's very existence, arguing that studies have turned up no scientific evidence of the G-spot's location, or only highly questionable results.
In the case of Roberts (a pseudonym used at her request to protect her privacy), she was unsure whether the G-spot existed, and if it truly held the key to a vibrant sex life. But she was willing to find out.
"If I could come home like my husband, have sex and feel that release," Roberts said before her appointment, "I'd be one happy woman. But instead I come home, I spend all this time concentrating, hoping something will happen and I just end up frustrated."
The procedure, which has been performed on approximately 250 women nationally in the past two years at a cost of $1,850 each, appealed to Roberts because she felt life's rigmarole had left her fatigued by the end of the day, hardly in an amorous mood. Even when she felt the surge of excitement, reaching an orgasm was a time-consuming endeavor that took more effort and energy than she and her husband had to offer.
If the arrival of the G-Shot sounds like an easy fix to an age-old dilemma, it's also viewed by sexologists and academics as a reminder that in today's post-Viagra world, a dynamic sex life has become a cultural expectation. The focus on orgasms -- great, multiple, easily attainable -- has been in full swing since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, but it has reached a fevered pitch in recent years, sociologists and sex researchers say, now that billions of dollars are spent on medical and pharmaceutical remedies that promise sexual enlightenment in a single pill or, in the case of the G-Shot, a single injection.
In Vacaville, a bedroom community of 97,000, Roberts may have been the first to sign up for the new procedure, but she probably won't long be the only woman to have done so.
The G-Shot was invented and trademarked in 2005 by Dr. David Matlock, a Los Angeles gynecologist and plastic surgeon. Matlock had performed every G-Shot injection from his Sunset Boulevard office until early April, when he shipped his trademarked G-Shot kits to 35 associates, including Salerno, across the country. The package included a 30-minute instructional video, the FDA-approved collagen dosages and brochures that hail the procedure as a "revolutionary scientific breakthrough."
Within a week of placing the brochures on display at his office, six patients had scheduled consultations, Salerno said.
Roberts, who has also had work done on her lips and thighs, said the procedure offered her a chance to change her life. The failed attempts at satisfactory sex with her husband had diminished her sex drive overall, she said, and had triggered a deeper tension in the relationship.
"If you have more orgasms, you'll want more sex," Roberts said. "And if you're 22 and your sex drive is going down, then you better do something to bring it back up."
Salerno's office is located just across the street from an immaculate city park. The 52-year-old surgeon from Pennsylvania chose to set up shop in Vacaville two years ago because he saw it as the last affordable suburb in the Bay Area with a high potential for clientele growth.
An ob/gyn for 25 years, Salerno has delivered, by his count, 6,000 babies. But a little more than two years ago, while in bed watching a late-night episode of "Dr. Beverly Hills 90210," an E! Channel show that featured Matlock's plastic surgery, Salerno became intrigued. He was looking for a new career path; the artistry behind Matlock's "aesthetic gynecology" led him to what he now calls, "my true calling."
Within months, Salerno had visited Matlock's newly opened Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Institute of America in Los Angeles, where the doctor, in addition to inventing the G-Shot, has become the most renowned practitioner in a small but incrementally growing field. In 2005, the first year the American Society of Plastic Surgeons kept statistics on vaginal alterations, 79 women had work performed on their genitals. Last year, the number rose to 1,030. Sandy Gart, 56, a Southern California nurse who was one of Matlock's first G-Shot recipients, said she got the injection to rekindle her sex drive. Gart said it worked so well, she's had three more injections; the collagen reabsorbs into the body within four months, and Matlock says 60 percent of his patients have returned at least once.
"It was good the first time, and it's kept on working," Gart said.
Matlock, from his home in Los Angeles, said he'd performed liposuction on women for 19 years while listening to hundreds complain about the appearance of their genitalia. One woman had asked if there was anything he could do to tighten the skin around the vagina; Matlock obliged, and six weeks later, the couple thanked him.
"That's when I modified my thoughts," Matlock recalled. "I knew then I could help people enhance their sex lives, and I said, 'Let's just come out and say it.' "
Matlock opened the institute and has continued his work, enlisting associates such as Salerno, who number 150 worldwide. He has also written two self-published books, "Sex by Design," and the forthcoming "Dr. Spot," which will promote his latest technique. Matlock said he has heard plenty from critics who say his work contributes to an artificial world, in which vanity and inauthentic beauty are promoted.
"Each procedure I've developed was based on the requests from women," Matlock said. "I didn't tell them what I wanted to do. I listened to what they wanted."
As Roberts sat in Salerno's examination room, she felt a pulse of nervous energy. Even though she'd undergone plastic surgery by Salerno's hands before, she knew this procedure called for client assistance. Since the G-spot is a sensitive tissue area, Roberts would need to manually locate it and give her doctor instructions. According to Dr. Beverly Whipple, a sexuality scholar at Rutgers University and perhaps the world's most prominent G-spot expert, the small area cannot be accessed unless the woman is in a state of arousal; when the woman is excited the tissue palpitates, making the G-spot accessible.
Matlock disputed that arousal was necessary to administer his product to patients. Rather, Matlock explained, they needed to be "in tune" with the area to verbally direct the doctor. Roberts said she was relieved when she didn't have to reach arousal; she was able to direct Salerno to the area by explaining where she felt a sensation.
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