Designer vagina — how many of you have not heard of this rather sensational label on a woman’s genitals?
What shocked you more: the label itself or that women and girls, purportedly as young as nine, had expressed keen interest in having the inner and outer folds of their vagina being surgically altered?
Is the designer-vagina trend being driven by sexualized media and easy access to online pornography?
Trending — pursuit of labiaplasty despite being ‘untenable’
On September 2007, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a strong advice against female genital cosmetic surgery (FGCS), commonly known, albeit misleading, as designer vagina. ACOG stated that there was no evidence to support the safety and efficacy of such cosmetic procedures, thus making it “untenable”. In the same year, a similar statement was also issued by the UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG).
This advice coming from well-respected organizations was met, seemingly, with no enthusiasm.
In the UK, The Guardian reported on the result of a study, released in 2009, by the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. It found an increase of almost 70% in the number of women having FGCS on the NHS, from 669 in 2007 to 1,118 in 2008. There were only 404 such procedures in 2006.
In 2010, the leading cosmetic provider in the UK, the Harley Medical Group, received more than 5,000 inquiries for FGCS, 65% of which was for labiaplasty and the rest for tightening of the vagina and reshaping.
By 2018, FGCS was reportedly the fourth most popular cosmetic surgical procedure in the US after liposuction, breast augmentation, and rhinoplasty. In the same year, The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) noted that 12,756 labiaplasties were performed. While this number was nowhere near compared with other cosmetic surgeries (e.g. breast augmentation at 329,194), labiaplasties with its 53% increase in five years was considered by ASAPS as “no longer a passing trend”.
Meanwhile, in Australia, the number of labiaplasties done under Medicare increased from 444 annually to 1,605 annually over a 13-year period.