What’s The Hot New Trend In Teen Plastic Surgery? Labiaplasty, And It’s Terrible

Just when you think the world is done oppressing teenage girls, along comes an unnecessary medical surgery to make them feel bad for no reason.

The New York Times reporter Roni Caryn Rabin wrote about the disturbing trend of teenagers requesting labiaplasty, a cosmetic surgery generally reserved for older women that have given birth as it  tightens the muscles of the vagina and shapes the labia. (There’s even a WikiHow article to help you decide if you need one.) The article notes that according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (A.C.O.G.), vaginal cosmetic surgery is rarely a medical need for most adults, and has not been proven safe or effective. They’re even suggesting that teenagers requesting the procedure get screened for mental health issues like body dysmorphia.

So many teenagers are seeking cosmetic surgery to trim or shape the external genitalia that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued guidance from its Committee on Adolescent Health Care to doctors last week, urging them to teach and to reassure patients, suggest alternatives to surgery that may alleviate discomfort, and screen them for a psychiatric disorder that causes obsession about perceived physical defects.

In the last year, there has been an 80% increase in the number of girls that requested the surgery since 2014, from 222 girls to 400 girls. But that’s not the full story:

While the overall numbers remain small, the data probably understates the trend because it does not include procedures performed by gynecologists. A 2013 British report found the number of labial reductions on girls and women done by the National Health Service had increased fivefold over 10 years.

What could possibly be to blame for this upswing in vaginal rejuvenation before your vagina is even old enough to have anything it needs to recover from? Waxing, and the internet.

[M]any young girls shave or wax their pubic hair, exposing the genital area. According to a 2012 study, more than 70 percent of girls and young women ages 12 to 20 said they routinely shaved or waxed the pubic area.

These girls have come of age at a time when they can go online and look up images of the vulva, doctors say. But the images are often air-brushed and do not portray the range of normal variation in shape, color, size and asymmetry, experts say.

Even though there are medical reasons someone may request this surgery (chafing, period pain), the huge increase in the amount of people requesting it tell another story.