More and More Teens Are Getting Cosmetic Labia Surgery

In news that will probably bum you out, the amount of teens getting labiaplasty is growing rapidly, even though experts say labiaplasty is usually inappropriate for minors.

The New York Times explored this phenomenon in a lengthy trend piece yesterday. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery says 400 girls under 18 had labiaplasty last year, the Times says. In 2014, 222 girls had the surgery. That’s an 80% increase from year to year.

Plus, the Times points out, there are probably some surgeries unaccounted for because they were performed by gynecologists instead of plastic surgeons. And a British report from 2013 reported a fivefold increase over 10 years.

This is scary not only because it’s being motivated by insecurity in a lot of instances, but also because the procedure can leave you with a loss of feeling in your labia.

“The big thing I tell patients about labiaplasty is that there are a lot of unknowns,” Dr. Julie Strickland, the chairwoman of A.C.O.G.’s committee on adolescent health care, told the Times. “The labia have a lot of nerve endings in them, so there could be diminishment of sexual sensation after surgery, or numbness, or pain, or scarring.”

Some girls might want to alter their labia because of actual physical discomfort. One popular Reddit AMA on the topic comes from a woman who was having her labia reduced because of the pain they caused her during horseback-riding, for example.

But many teens are seeking the procedure because new trends in shaving and waxing are causing them — and all women — to be more aware of the way their labia look. Plus internet porn isn’t helping.

The important thing is for people to know that labia come in many different shapes and sizes, none of which is better than the others. And someone who’s not a fan of her labia during the teen years may very well get over it by adulthood.

If you’re a teen considering labiaplasty because you’re worried what dudes will think, know that people get over differently shaped labia pretty quickly. You might hear guys making nasty comments about “beef curtains” or whatever other gross term the kids are using these days, but they’re just trying to be cool. They’ll get over it soon enough. Real men don’t care all that much about your vulva’s appearance.

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