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Labiaplasty has been revealed to be the world’s fastest-growing plastic surgery procedure, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS).

Labiaplasty is a procedure that reduces the length of the labia minora – the inner folds of the vulva, sitting on either side of the vagina. Women undergoing the procedure do so because they feel self-conscious about the appearance of their labia, or experience discomfort when exercising or during sex.

The ISAPS surveyed cosmetic procedures in 106 countries, including Spain, USA, Brazil, France and the UK, and found the number of labiaplasty procedures has increased internationally by 45%.

Dr Lina Triana, a Colombia-based plastic surgeon and Board Member of ISAPS, said, “This procedure empowers women, and helps them achieve a better quality of life through increased comfort and sexual confidence.”

The USA saw the biggest increase in the number of procedures carried out, followed by Brazil and Russia.

Concerns have been expressed in the UK about the age of women seeking out a labiaplasty.

Dr Naomi Crouch, who chairs the British Society for Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology, told the BBC she was worried about the rising number of young girls being referred for surgery by GPs.

Dr Crouch said, “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.”

She said she was yet to see a girl who needed the operation as part of her work for the NHS.

Michael Saul, from Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, said, “Extreme caution should be taken regarding any possible labiaplasty operation. In my experience of successfully pursuing legal cases following labiaplasty, a common problem is that too much tissue is removed.”

He continued, “It has to be remembered that the labia serves a functional purpose and this can be compromised by excessive resection (removal). The legal issues surrounding FGM are also present.”