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To tighten or not to tighten your vagina?

Kristen Fischer is a writer living at the Jersey Shore. In addition to writing for SheKnows, she has penned articles for Prevention, Health, Woman's Day, BELLA, and New Jersey Monthly. Kristen enjoys spending time with her family, friend...

Cosmetic procedures on the rise

Vaginal rejuvenation procedures are on the rise — but are they safe?

Woman undergoing operation

Photo credit: gmast3r/iStock/360/Getty Images

Forget Kegel exercises. These days, vaginal rejuvenation procedures are all the rage. From vaginoplasties and labiaplasties to vaginal tightening, these procedures are on the rise. Why? Well, because they're available.

Dr. Jamil Ahmad at the Plastic Surgery Clinic in Ontario says his clinic has experienced high demand for genital surgeries over the past five years. Most women come in for labiaplasties, but Ahmad performs one to two vaginal tightening procedures every month.

"Requests for both continue to grow. And I think that is due mostly to awareness by women that there is a procedure for this," he said. "And I anticipate this will grow, just like the evolution of breast enhancement surgery."

According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, labiaplasty procedures increased by 44 percent during 2013. They also report that the number of surgeons performing labiaplasties went up from 21 percent to 29 percent in the past year.

"I believe the dramatic increase in both of these procedures is indicative of much larger global trends respecting body image, an ever-evolving concept of beauty and self-confidence," said Michael Edwards, M.D., president-elect of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

"More women are pursuing these procedures as a means to achieve a standard of beauty they deem appropriate for themselves; however, I believe more women are also pursuing procedures like labiaplasty to correct labia-related issues that are interfering with their ability to perform sexually, to perform daily tasks such as exercise, or [because they're experiencing] discomfort," Edwards said.

A rising trend's safety concerns

So why exactly are these procedures on the rise? Perhaps because they're on the market, and they're openly discussed in some circles of celebrity culture. In fact, celebrities such as Brandi Glanville of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills have spoken openly about having them.

But are these suddenly popular procedures actually safe? That raises some concerns — some medical professionals insist they are, while others aren't so sure.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada will discuss the procedures next month at its annual conference. Last December, the SOGC released guidelines about the clinical practice, noting that there was not enough evidence to show that vaginoplasties are safe, that they can boost sexual satisfaction or that they can enhance one's self-image. One thing they also expressed? Concern that women are being coerced into genital surgeries, which have many risks such as infection, pain during sex, scarring and declined sexual pleasure.

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