Girls as young as nine are opting to have surgery on their private parts because of body insecurities that stem from social media and pornography, doctors have revealed.
Naomi Crouch, a leading adolescent gynaecologist, told the BBC about the worrying trend and admitted that she is concerned GPs are referring young girls for unneeded labiaplasty - an operation where the lips of the vagina are shortened or reshaped.
As of yet, the doctor says she is yet to see a young girl who needs the operation.
“Girls will sometimes come out with comments like, 'I just hate it, I just want it removed,' and for a girl to feel that way about any part of her body - especially a part that's intimate - is very upsetting.“
Paquita de Zulueta, a GP for more than 30 years, agreed with Crouch’s concerns, adding that it is only in the past few years young women have been started seeing her with concerns about the way their vagina’s look.
“I'm seeing young girls around 11, 12, 13 thinking there's something wrong with their vulva - that they're the wrong shape, the wrong size, and really expressing almost disgust,” De Zulueta said.
She also added that the rise is the fault of pornography and social media and that, in her opinion, labiaplasty should only be performed on girls who have a medical abnormality.
“There isn't enough education and it should start really quite young, explaining that there is a range and that - just as we all look different in our faces - we all look different down there, and that's OK.”
In 2015-16, more than 200 girls under 18 had labiaplasty on the NHS, with more than 150 of the girls aged under 15.
“I find it very hard to believe there are 150 girls with a medical abnormality which means they needed an operation on their labia,” the doctor said.
The industry has been readily criticised for normalising the procedure, however, some surgeons say that it’s “insulting” to assume that most women have surgery for cosmetic reasons alone.
“The women have significant discomfort with recurrent infections and irritation because of their enlarged labia,” Christopher Inglefield, a plastic and cosmetic surgeon at the London Bridge clinic, told The Independent.
“The most extreme case I dealt with was a girl in her late teens whose labia grew abnormally large to the point that she was being teased and told she looked like a boy.
“She was very traumatised and we had to get approval from the hospital psychologist to go ahead with the surgery.”
Inglefield added that he did not know how she dealt with the discomfort she would have endured for years.
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