So what, exactly, is the ‘Barbie’, and who’s getting it, and how is it different than vaginal rejuvenation?
Labiaplasty (also known as nymphoplasty), was the 19th most-popular procedure of 2015, with data from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery claiming that more than 95,000 women worldwide underwent the procedure.
To put the sudden surge in popularity into perspective, the American College of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons recorded just 2,140 procedures in the U.S. in 2010.
It’s called the ‘Barbie’ because women are requesting that a portion, or nearly all their labia minora, be removed—although some women claim to have a chafing/pain issue, plastic surgeon Dr. Nicolas Berreni estimates that 40% of requesters lie about pain; women are essentially requesting what they’re seeing online, or in porn, which is a hairless little slit, or clamshell.
In a much-quoted piece by Kirsten O’Regan on Guernica—she visited several doctor’s offices throughout the country asking for the procedure—Laguna Beach-based urogynecologist Dr. Red Alinsod claims he invented the Barbie in 2005. “I kept getting patients who wanted almost all of it off,” he told O’Regan. “They would come in and say, I want a ‘Barbie.’ So I developed a procedure that would give them this comfortable, athletic, petite look, safely.”
Vaginal rejuvenation, on the other hand, is something women who’ve had children will often request—usually, it’s a tightening of the vaginal canal. Some specialists offer tightening vulva/vagina “facials”, which is a combination of massage and product application.
Often, the women requesting a ‘Barbie’ are so young they’re not even finished with puberty. Dr. Dorothy Shaw, former head of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada says, “We need a way to help particularly young women understand that their bodies are still developing, they may not look like that in a few years, and that they may be harming themselves in a way that could be permanent.”
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