If it’s not one thing, it really is another. You might be shocked to know that surgeons are being asked by teenage girls for labiaplasty, known for adults as “vaginal rejuvenation” surgery. There are multiple reasons teenage girls are asking for this procedure, but the internet’s wealth of airbrushed photos creating unrealistic and homogenous beauty standards (even for this) are a contributing factor. Here’s an excerpt from a New York Times article about this phenomenon, and if you have daughters, the breadth of “normalcy” for vulvas might need a spot on your list of things to talk about with them.
Fat thighs. Hairy arms. Muffin tops. Breasts that are too big or not big enough. To the long list of body parts that adolescent girls worry about and want to tinker with, the Internet age has added a new one: the vulva.
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.
As for why there has been an increase in demand for the surgery among teenagers, physicians are “sort of baffled,” said Dr. Julie Strickland, the chairwoman of A.C.O.G.’s committee on adolescent health care.
For adults, the procedure is marketed as “vaginal rejuvenation,” tightening the inner and outer muscles of the vagina, as well as often shaping the labia; it is geared to older women and women who have given birth. But gynecologists who care for teenage girls say they receive requests every week from patients who want surgery to trim their labia minora, mostly for cosmetic reasons, but occasionally for functional reasons, such as to relieve discomfort.
The guideline does not rule out surgery on the labia, or labiaplasty for teens, but says it is rarely appropriate. “It should not be entertained until growth and development is complete,” Dr. Strickland said.