Woman warns against ‘designer vagina’ surgery following procedure

An Australian woman who underwent cosmetic surgery on her vagina as a teenager has warned others against doing the same, as the numbers of women undergoing similar procedures grow.

An Australian woman who had cosmetic surgery on her vagina 10 years ago says she wishes she had not gone ahead with the procedure and has warned others against doing the same.

Queensland mother Jasmine, who didn’t want her last name revealed, told SBS she became insecure about her body after viewing airbrushed pornographic images in the media.

“If I saw any type of pornographic material it would look almost pre-pubescent and perfect,” she said. “Basically what you’d see on a Barbie doll – and that looked aesthetically pleasing.”

The turning point came when she heard the topic being discussed on a reality television show.

“The guys were talking about protruding inner labia and how it meant that girls slept around and it looked unattractive,” she says.

“That’s when I decided I’d had enough of looking that way, that it wasn’t normal and I needed to go fix it.”

Jasmine underwent an inner labiaplasty – a procedure in which the inner vaginal lips are surgically altered – at the age of 19, despite advice from her mother, boyfriend and even the cosmetic surgeon that she didn’t need it.

So extreme was her insecurity that she insisted on having the entire inner labia cut out, leaving only a clitoris and outer labia.

Now aged 31, she holds deep regrets about the surgery and says she still feels insecure about the way her vagina looks.

Growing popularity

When Jasmine underwent the procedure 10 years ago, it was still relatively new. But vaginal cosmetic surgery is now becoming increasingly common, with more women going to great lengths to achieve perfection.

A new study released this week shows growing interest in the procedures among Australian women, many of whom expressed dissatisfaction with the appearance of their genitals.

Dr Laith Barnouti, a specialist plastic and reconstructive surgeon based in Sydney, told SBS he has noticed more women coming in with inquiries about vaginal surgeries.

“Absolutely there is a growth in the numbers of these procedures because some women didn’t know the procedures existed,” he said.

Dr Barnouti says most patients are in their early 20s, but he does have some teenagers coming in with their parents.

He says women usually want surgery because their vagina causes some physical discomfort or embarrassment.

“Girls usually complain about the labia being redundant, asymmetrical, and unhygienic – they are embarrassed about it,” he says.

“And we have found that doing a simple procedure significantly improves the hygiene of the area and also helps in intimate situations; the women don’t get embarrassed about it.”

Body beautiful

But Associate Professor Rhian Parker of the Centre for Research and Action in Public Health at the University of Canberra told SBS the rise in such surgeries represents something more than just a nip and tuck.

“I think that it’s about women wanting to have the body that they think is acceptable,” she says.

“They have this vision of what should be ‘perfect’ and I do think that’s because the private has become very public with things like the internet.”

“If we have more and more of these procedures, generationally it will be something that will be more accepted.”

Now a married mother of two, Jasmine says she believes the media has a lot to answer for.

“If people didn’t give us a false sense of what is normal we wouldn’t have all these women running around saying ‘I’m abnormal’.”

And she wishes her teenage self had been more accepting.

“I was just so convinced I needed it done, I didn’t care about the risks.”

She also has a message for others considering surgery.

“If you are doing it, do it for the right reasons, not because you’re conforming to some media image.”