At Costhetics, we believe that every individual is perfect exactly “as is.” We also believe men and women have the right choose to make what they consider to be improvements to their appearance, including the appearance of their genitals.

We take our role as Australia’s leading information source for cosmetic surgery news and cosmetic surgery procedures very seriously. When a new treatment or procedure is trending, we take a careful look to ensure that it’s safe and effective. This point of view leads us to the subject of this article: labiaplasty.

Research published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology calls attention to an alarming rise in the number of women undergoing labiaplasty to create “perfect genitalia.” The report highlights female patients’ psychological desire for surgery, but questions the whole concept of aesthetically pleasing genitals.

Labiaplasty was once primarily the domain of transgendered individuals, sex trade workers, and women with structural defects in their vaginas. Today, however, labiaplasty has grown into a widely accepted cosmetic procedure.

If the goal of labiaplasty is to make a woman’s vulvar lips look more attractive, Costhetics wants to know: More attractive in whose opinion?

Labiaplasty: View from the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons

How do you feel about your labia?If you’re like an increasing number of women in Australia, you’re dissatisfied and want to make a change. The Costhetics research team has learned that Medicare rebates for labiaplasty, a surgical procedure to rejuvenate a woman’s genitals, doubled between 2003 and 2013.

“It seems to have been driven by the media and by the perception that women have abnormalities within their genitalia.” –Hugh Bartholomeusz, President, Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons

Since 2013, there has been a drop in Medicare claims, but the desire for genital surgery continues to grow. Dr Bartholomeusz believes this reflects the fact that a number of women are seeking solutions outside the system. A labiaplasty “can be performed by other plastic surgeons or gynaecologists. So because the Medicare system isn’t involved there’s no visibility about who is performing this procedure, where or how,” he says.

Costhetics Looks at the Female Ideal: Barbie

Thousands of women of all ages have come to believe that their labia – the inner and outer folds of the vulva located at either side of their vagina – are abnormal. Where did they get such an idea?

It may start in childhood with one of a girl’s first role models: Barbie. Barbie’s genital area, unlike that of human females, is smooth, tucked, and discrete. Here’s the thing to remember: Barbie is not a real woman! Real women have labia of many different shapes and sizes. The appearance of a woman’s labia changes over time. Childbirth is an obvious game-changer, but so is simple ageing. The labia of prepubescent girls look different as they grow older. That doesn’t make them unattractive or abnormal. Quite the reverse.

How a 7-Minute Video Could Decrease the Likelihood of Vaginal Rejuvenation Surgery

If you don’t like your “bits and twinkles” and are considering labiaplasty because you believe that the lips of your vulva look abnormal, you might want to take the time to educate yourself about the variations in your lady-parts.

What you learn may surprise you and could change your mind.

In a groundbreaking study, researchers from Australia’s University of Queensland School of Psychology, looked at whether exposure to images of modified vulvas influenced women’s perceptions of what is considered normal and desirable. Female undergraduate students were asked to view a video and a series of still photographs designed to improve women’s knowledge of variation in normal genital appearance.

Participants who viewed the video demonstrated greater knowledge of the digital alteration of women’s labia in media images. They understood more clearly that what was no more “normal” than the heavily air-brushed and Photoshopped features of super-models in fashion magazines.

Natural Vaginal Beauty: Women Pay It Forward

Many women who participated in the study said they would be willing to advise peers dissatisfied with the appearance of their genitals. This opens up the possibility that they might dissuade others from undergoing a labiaplasty due to a perceived abnormality, though that was not the goal of the study:

“It was never our intention to persuade women one way or the other about having a labiaplasty; we simply wanted to find out whether or not they had a realistic idea of what normal actually looked like, and to ensure they made informed decisions.” – Gemma Sharp, Clinical Psychologist.

Informed decision-making is what Costhetics is all about! For more information about labiaplasty, a good place to start is your gynaecologist.

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