The real risks and benefits of "designer ######" surgery — which includes procedures such as labial reduction and laser vaginal rejuvenation — are poorly explained on websites that consumers are likely to visit, a new study finds.
Normal female genitalia vary in their appearance, but medical practices that offer female genital cosmetic surgery (FGCS) generally do not make this clear on their sites, and "give only minimal scientific information on outcomes or risks" of the surgery, the researchers wrote.
"Unsubstantiated claims of physical, psychological and sexual benefits were present on every website," reviewed in the study, the researchers said.
For example, labiaplasty (surgery typically aimed at reshaping or reducing the size of the labia) is perhaps the most popular operation, based on the amount of text devoted to it, the researchers said. But the "condition" of labial hypertrophy, or having labia that are supposedly larger than normal, is not based in science, the researchers said.
In fact, on sites that included before and after photos, the before photos all showed labia that were normal, they said.
"The quality and quantity of clinical information in FGCS provider sites is poor, with erroneous information in some instances," the researchers wrote in their article, published today (Nov. 21) in the journal BMJ Open. "Clear and detailed guidelines on how to raise the standard of information to women on all aspects of FGCS are urgently needed," they wrote.