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Docs press for probe into 'designer vaginas'

Warn over 'invasive and irrevocable' labiaplasty ops

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Doctors have warned that nip-and-tuck labiaplasty operations aimed at creating "designer vaginas" could have adverse affects on long-term sexual function.

Demand for such labia-reduction procedures is apparently rising among those with no reason to go under the knife other than to achieve a more aesthetically-pleasing gential shop front, with healthy women willing to stump £3,000 for a private op.

Lih-Mei Liao, consultant psychologist at University College London (UCL), said: “Advertisements promote labial surgery as easy answers to women’s insecurities about their genital appearances - insecurities that are fuelled by the very advertisements that prescribe a homogenised, prepubescent genital appearance standard for all women."

However, according to researchers from UCL, no one has actually looked at the possible risks of labiaplasty. Writing in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the team explains how it a trawl of elecronic databases revealed 40 related articles dating from 1950 to April 2009, 18 of which included patient data.

The Times elaborates: "Details of how the study was designed were unavailable for 15 of the 18 papers and the remaining three related to past surgery. No properly designed studies were found among the literature."

While “all reports claimed high levels of patient satisfaction* and contained anecdotes pertaining to success”, the team insists that "more research was needed on whether women were actually suffering physical symptoms - such as discomfort or lack of sensation - or if their desire for surgery was purely cosmetic".

Sarah Creighton, University College Hospital consultant gynaecologist, and one of the report’s authors, insisted there was a “shocking lack of solid evidence” about labiaplasty and demanded: “Labial surgery needs to be rigorously evaluated in future."

Professor Philip Steer, BJOG editor-in-chief, suggested the rise in cosmetic labiaplasty procedures requires an awareness-raising campaign to dissuade those tempted to undergo the “invasive and irrevocable surgery”.

He concluded: “Commercial images and social pressures often serve to distort public perceptions about what is physically normal. Healthy messaging about the normal variation in female genitalia, as well as body shape and size more generally, is needed and important.” ®

Bootnote

* LabiaplastySurgeon.com is currently trumpeting "a nationwide clinical study investigating the outcomes of 341 separate procedures on 258 different women, from 12 genital plastic surgeons in 8 states", for publication in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

The site says: "The study found an overall satisfaction rate of 97.2 per cent for women undergoing labiaplasty and clitoral hood reduction", as well as "an overall satisfaction rate of 83 per cent in women having a vaginal tightening procedure ... and 91.2 per cent for women combining both 'outer' and 'inner' work".

Those of you wondering just what a clitoral hood reduction, aka a "hoodectomy", involves are directed to clitoralunhooding.com. Avoid the photos if you're eating lunch.

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