Vaginal plastic surgery is blowing up these days — but it might not have the effects some women expect, according to a new study.

woman with hands over vagina
photo: iStock

The most popular form of gynecological cosmetic surgery is labiaplasty, which reduces the size of the vaginal lips.

The procedure is rapidly gaining popularity — the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons noted an almost 50% increase in procedures between 2013 and 2014. More than 7,000 women underwent the procedure in 2014 alone.

Reasons for getting the surgery range from cosmetic to clinical. Some women find their long labia unsightly, while others say they interfere with exercise and sex. Participants have said they hope the surgery will help their clothes fit better, and make sex more enjoyable.

But a new study says women may be seeking a little too much out of the surgery.

Australian researchers surveyed more than 50 women over six months about their experience with the procedure. They found that most women felt significantly more satisfied with how their vagina looked afterwards.

But overall?

"We found no significant improvements in any other psychological domains, such as self-esteem and sexual confidence," the researchers reported.

gynecological stirrups
photo: iStock

The researchers blame this dissatisfaction on women's unrealistic expectations.

When people expect the surgery to solve all their confidence problems or repair their relationships, they're bound to be disappointed.

"It looks like most women are getting what they want out of labiaplasty in terms of becoming more comfortable with their genital appearance," the researchers wrote. "But when women have unrealistic expectations for improvements in other areas of their lives, such as their self-esteem and sexual relationships, they are more likely to be disappointed."

This is especially troubling, given the risks associated with the (fairly new) procedure.

Possible side effects include scarring, infection, and reduced sensitivity (read: less pleasurable sex). According to Dr. Iris Orbuch, recovery takes up to three months, and you can't have sex or go swimming for some time after. The American Committee on Gynecologic Practice has yet to endorse the surgery, citing a lack of proper research.

Oh, and the average surgery will run you $2,762.

In the end, the decision on whether or not labiaplasty is worth it comes down to personal choice — as should everything involving your vagina.