You'll Never Guess Which Body Part Teenagers Are Now Having Plastic Surgery On
By Brittany Burhop Fallon, Beauty Director |
It's bad enough for a teenager to have to deal with acne and school bullies, but now there's a growing concern among girls that their lady parts don't look as "perfect" as they could. And as a result, more and more of them are turning to cosmetic surgery for a fix. Say what? Here's the scoop.
According to BBC News, several adolescent gynecologists reported that girls under the age of 15 (some as young as nine!) have been increasingly seeking out labiaplasty procedures to give their genitals a more "aesthetically pleasing" look. The doctors said the girls' reasoning was most often that they were distressed by the shape or size of their vaginas.
In 2016, The New York Times revealed that American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery statistics showed 400 girls 18 and younger had labiaplasty in 2015, which is an 80-percent increase from the 222 girls who had the surgery in 2014. The concern grew so much that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists urged doctors to teach and reassure patients who come to them with requests for the surgery and suggest alternatives to the procedure that may alleviate discomfort. In the UK specifically, more than 200 girls under age 18 had labiaplasty in 2016, and more than 150 of them were younger than 15.
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UK-based adolescent gynecologist Dr. Naomi Crouch expressed her concern for the rising number of young girls requesting the operation. "Girls will sometimes come out with comments like, 'I just hate it, I just want it removed,' and for a girl to feel that way about any part of her body—especially a part that's intimate—is very upsetting."
The accessibility to pornography and the internet are also to blame for the increase, as they give girls the idea that their body parts should look a certain way in order to be "normal."
General practitioner Paquita de Zulueta told BBC News that it was only in the past few years that girls have started coming to her with concerns over the appearance of their labia. "I'm seeing young girls around 11, 12, 13 thinking there's something wrong with their vulva—that they're the wrong shape, the wrong size, and really expressing almost disgust. Their perception is that the inner lips should be invisible, almost like a Barbie, but the reality is that there is a huge variation. It's very normal for the lips to protrude."
Duxbury, MA, plastic surgeon Christine Hamori, MD, says she was surprised to read this BBC report. "Having done over 450 labiaplasties, I have never performed surgery on girls that young. The few cases I have seen and operated upon were in their late teens and had significant asymmetry," she adds. "However, there has been an upward trend of younger patients under 20 requesting labiaplasty here in the U.S. because girls are going through adolescence younger and younger, and as they develop, they shave or wax and it reveals asymmetries and protrusion of the labia minora. This is normal, but the 'gold standard,' perhaps from media, is minimal, if any, labia minora showing."
Dr. Hamori explains that the procedure is safe if performed by a well-trained surgeon, as long as the girl is fully developed, which typically happens by age 15 or 16. "It is usually done for cosmetic reasons, but girls report symptoms of pinching and rubbing, too. Many are very traumatized emotionally by large labia and are afraid to become sexually active. Younger girls (tweens) often report being teased about their genitalia in the locker room. This prompts them to explore options online, which reinforces the desire to have surgery to 'fix' the problem."