A recent story in The Independent pins a rise in labiaplasty (Link: NSFW) on the popularity of spin classes and a love of tight exercise pants.

The American Association for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) just released a report claiming that labiaplasty has increased by 217.3 percent over the past five years. However, that same report also saw a drop in the number of labiaplasties done in 2017 of 10.7 percent.

ASAPS isn’t the only organization to note the decline: The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) recently reported that labiaplasty was down 19 percent in 2017 from 2016. And according to our data on RealSelf, U.S. interest in labiaplasty is also down 13 percent from 2016.

Despite the 2017 drop, labiaplasty has been one of the most popular procedures women request from plastic surgeons in recent years. We checked in with one of our top doctors to talk about how labiaplasty is trending in his practice.

“Labiaplasty surgery has become commonplace because we are in an era of female empowerment,” says Dr. Adam Oppenheimer, an Orlando plastic surgeon who has done more than 300 labiaplasties in the past six years. “My patients range from 15 years old, to women in their 60s. They all have the same complaint — something about the size of their genitalia that is bothering them. Most often it is actually a physical discomfort: pinching or pulling with exercise, clothing, and intercourse. But with the enlarged appearance of the inner labia there is also an element of self-consciousness.”

Dr. Oppenheimer says that because more information is readily available on labiaplasty, it allows more women “to understand what can be done to help them overcome discomfort and insecurity.” Viewing before and after photos can be especially helpful, whether in a medical practice or online at RealSelf (Warning: These photos are NSFW). 

For those who opt for a labiaplasty, recovery is fairly fast, according to Dr. Oppenheimer. “There is swelling and discomfort that lasts for the first three days, which is controlled best with ice and Tylenol,” he says. “We recommend three additional weeks without tampon use or physical exercise, and six weeks to resume intercourse.” Those who opt for the surgery are often thrilled, according to Dr. Oppenheimer. Labiaplasty also has a 94 percent Worth It rating on RealSelf.

Although labiaplasty has become more common, especially in helping women with comfort-related issues, this surgery still carries a lot of stigma. Perhaps you’ve heard the term “designer vaginas”? When considering all the real concerns a labiaplasty can address, it’s a bit reductive to describe the surgery that way. In truth, doctors tell us that there is no “perfect” genitalia, and whatever feels healthy to you is fine.

 

Related: 10 things you should know about labiaplasty

 

Whatever the reasons for wanting a labiaplasty, the results can be quite remarkable.

“My labiaplasty patients are the happiest patients in my practice, displacing my breast reduction patients for the same reasons — relief from excess tissue that has caused physical and emotional discomfort,” said Dr. Oppenheimer. “As a surgeon, that’s what makes this so worthwhile.”

 

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