‘Designer vagina’, which is a common term for the Female Genital Cosmetic Surgery or FGCS, is a surgical procedure that’s becoming quite popular.
The term—designer vagina—describes surgery done on the female genital. A study by Dr Sarah Creighton of UCL Institute of Women’s Health revealed that there is poor quality of internet information about ‘designer vagina’ procedures. There are over seventy words used to describe the procedure such as “vulval reshaping”, “revirgination”, “vulva and vaginal rejuvenation”, and even “Mommy Makeover”.
Why is ‘Designer Vagina’ becoming popular?
It seems that one thing leads to another. Women today shave, pluck, wax, and trim their pubic hair. Jamie McCartney, the creator of The Great Wall of Vagina, explains that because of such habits, the labia is becoming more exposed. He also adds that the presence of airbrushed appearances of the female genitalia in pornography magazines lead to unrealistic ideas of how that certain region should actually look.
Meanwhile, plastic surgeon Paul Banwell, member of British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, says that it is only natural for a woman to desire a change in the appearance of the intimate region. He emphasizes that through labiaplasty, “People realize that they can change something they may have been worried about for a long time.” Also from Banwell: “It’s empowering women with the ability to have choice. Choice is important.”
Banwell mentioned that, on occasion, he had turned away patients because he believed there was no need for a change in their vagina. “I will tell them that they are completely normal. I will send them away and that will be that,” he adds.
There is the question of what is normal, though.
McCartney states that “there is no such thing as an average penis or vagina.” He explains that: “They vary in dimension, shape, and colours. Just the same as any other part of the body.” This is supported by a study in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology that says that there is a huge variance when it comes to the sizes and shapes of the female genitalia. Thus, it is hard to quantify its normal appearance.
McCartney, who had cast thousands of vaginas for his work, says that only about 5% of his casts are tiny and reminiscent of what the media portrays as the normal vagina. However, this doesn’t imply that the remaining 95% of women have abnormal-looking or defective organs.
Who can have the surgery?
Despite professional assurances that there is no abnormal appearance when it comes to the vagina, recent reports say that even girls as young as 14 have undergone the surgery. However, NHS denies that these surgeries have been done for purely cosmetic purposes.
According to NHS: While the study does accurately quote NHS statistics showing more than 300 labiaplasties were performed by the NHS on girls aged 14 or younger in the last six years, there is no evidence that these operations were performed for cosmetic reasons.” Banwell also weighed in by stating that cosmetic surgery is not advisable for someone under 18, although there is no minimum age for the surgery. However, there are exceptions, especially when recommendation from a GP and parental consent are available.
According to the spokesperson of the Department of Health, surgeries done on the NHS are for clinical needs. Reconstructive surgery, for example, can be done after an accident, but not because patients simply want to have it done.
What to do before the procedure
A woman may consult with a surgeon to determine if surgery is appropriate for her situation. Banwell says in his website that he wants to see his patients at least twice and that he would answer all questions about the process. He also encourages patients to get to know more about the subject through various sources. After discussing the risks and complications, Banwell advices a cooling-off period and in certain cases a visit with a psychologist.
Effects of ‘designer vagina’ surgery
Women who have had the surgery feel an improvement in their self-esteem. However, it’s also worth noting that there are small complications that come with the procedure. Banwell mentions some of these in his website including bleeding, haematoma formation, infection, thrush, numbness, minor asymmetry, alteration in libido, and urinary infections.