Protect your private bits!

Famed medical journal slams "designer vagina" trend. Plus, debate over silicone implants rages on.

Published May 25, 2007 7:30PM (EDT)

There's all sorts of debate today over women going under the knife to augment -- or diminish -- various body parts. Breast implants have become a hot topic once again after the Food and Drug Administration allowed silicone back on the market last fall, instructing doctors to tell patients to have biannual MRIs to look for any ruptures.

Well, many surgeons apparently disagree with the decree and some have ... absolutely no intention of following it. Some say MRIs can give false positives that might cause a woman to remove her implants unnecessarily; others say it isn't necessary to remove ruptured implants in the first place. On top of the dissent over the usefulness of MRIs, consider the cost: "If you added up all the M.R.I.'s you would need over the years, I figured the cost of the tests would soon outstrip what you paid for the actual augmentation with silicone," said Michelle C. Meyer, who instead opted for saline implants.

Moving onward and downward, Slate summarizes a recent argument in the prestigious British Medical Journal against labial reductions and their rising popularity: "1) Imperfect vaginas are not a medical problem. 2) Entrepreneurs and the media are inventing the problem by making women feel bad about how they look. 3) Plastic surgery poses risks, in this case to sexual sensitivity. 4) Men don't get their genitals surgically reduced over discomfort from things such as bike seats; they fix their environment, not themselves." The BMJ noted that some labiaplasty patients surveyed for the article "cited restrictions on lifestyle ... [including the] inability to wear tight clothing, go to the beach, take communal showers or ride a bicycle comfortably, or avoidance of some sexual practices" as their reason for going under the knife. But, there also seems to be some confusion over what a "normal" vagina looks like -- all sought slit-like, prepubescent vaginas and many brought in photos of porn stars to illustrate their desired vulva style. "There is nothing unusual about protrusion of the labia," said the BMJ.

I'm going to leave the last word to reader Sandra Miller, who tipped us off to the story: "Imagine what a national crisis it would be if men mutilated themselves in the same numbers women did ... if they lost sexual sensitivity and function at the same rate, women would be horrified that they could hate themselves so much, ignore our pleas to accept themselves, and destroy/reduce the sexual feeling in search of (supposed) greater sexual appeal."

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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