By Sally Chew
Plastic surgery for your breasts? How passé. Whether you’re looking for better sex or hoping to look like a 25-year-old porn star, now you can get your vulva plumped and sculpted too. As demand for these once secret procedures has picked up, so have concerns about the safety of permanently rearranging sex organs for a beauty fad that may be fleeting.
Between 2005 and 2006, there was an increase of more than 20% in cosmetic gynoplasty. Alarmed at this trend, the New York–based group New View Campaign organized a demonstration this week outside the office of a cosmetic surgeon who performs the procedures. The group says doctors are preying on women’s “self-critical anguish” with untested techniques and Internet-fueled ideas about what’s normal.
“Say No to Designer Vaginas!” read a sign at the event, which included a protester dressed as a vulva before undergoing a labiaplasty (surgical reduction of the inner vaginal lips) and another who personified after. The number of labiaplasties in the U.K. apparently doubled from 2002–2007.
It’s hard to know how many women choose this surgery and regret it later, probably because it’s such a private thing and generally inspired by embarrassment. But the spirited discussion on this Australian website
shows the vacillating opinions about what is attractive and whether you should alter your body to achieve your ideal.
In September 2007, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a statement “advising against” cosmetic genital surgery, saying that women who consider them “should be informed about the lack of data supporting the effectiveness of these procedures as well as their potential complications, including infection, altered sensation, dyspareunia (pain), adhesions, and scarring.”
Other sex-health professionals agree. Jennifer Bass, of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, told ABC News earlier this year: “This is a medical procedure, it is invasive, it involves inserting something into the vagina. It has never been tested, and it has never been approved by the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration].”