A new health guide has been published to discourage girls from undergoing genital plastic surgery.
In recent years, the number of girls and young women who have opted for a Labiaplasty procedure to obtain a designer vagina has increased dramatically.
In 2017, the number of surgeries increased by 45% between 2015 and 2016, and girls as young as nine allegedly went under the knife.
The new guide “So what’s a vulva anyway” was commissioned by the British Society of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology (BritSPAG) to educate girls and young women about the diversity of female anatomy and the risks associated with Labiaplasty.
At our children’s gynecology clinic, we see many patients who have a poor understanding of some of the normal anatomy and genital variability, says Louise Williams, clinical nurse at University College Hospital and co-responsible for the project.
This teaching material will help young women understand their vulvas and their development during adolescence, especially if they are concerned about their appearance or well-being.
The goal of the guide is to reassure young girls that vaginas come in all shapes and sizes, and if and when they need advice and support, they would know where to go.
The health guide contains illustrations of various vulvas, which make it clear that there is no standard shape for them and that the variety is normal
It also contains detailed explanations of different anatomical terms such as vulva, clitoris and lips.
Dr. Naomi Crouch, president of BritSPAG, said that while working for the NHS, she never met a girl who had had surgery and really needed it. And there is absolutely no scientific evidence to support the need for a Labiaplasty and the risk of injury is considerable, especially for adolescents who are still in the developmental stage, both physically and psychologically.
The sponsors of the guide hope that it will convince girls and young women, that their vulvas will be unique and will change throughout their lives, and that this will be perfectly normal.
The guide was launched during the annual update in the field of gynecology for children and adolescents at a joint event of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
According to the NHS, the cost of vaginal designer plastic surgery in the UK can range from £1,000 to £3,000, excluding the cost of consultation and post-operative care.
Possible risks associated with obtaining a Labiaplasty include bleeding, infections, reduced genital sensitivity and scarring.