Is porn pushing popularity of "designer vaginas?"

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(CBS) Designer vaginas. That's what some are calling the surgically modified genitals that new research shows are all the rage with some women - and which are stirring outrage among critics of "vaginal rejuvenation."

Over the past decade, there's been a five-fold increase in the number of women seeking cosmetic surgery to reduce the size of their labia, according to a study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. As part of the first-of-its-kind study, researchers measured the length and width of the labia minora of 33 English women and girls who had requested the surgery.

What was wrong with the ladies' labia? Nothing. All the women - including some as young as 11 years of age - were perfectly normal "down there."

"It is surprising that all of the study participants had normal sized labia minora and despite this nearly half were still keen to pursue surgery as an option," study author Dr. Sarah Creighton, of the University College London Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Institute of Women's Health, said in a written statement.

If they women were anatomically normal, why were they seeking labial reduction surgery? Sixty percent said they wanted a better-looking vagina. Other reasons included a desire to ease discomfort or to boost self-confidence. Some women said they had sought the surgery after hearing a comment from a partner, others that they had simply watch TV programs that described cosmetic genital surgery.

"Women are bombarded with images suggesting they are not normal," Dr. Creighton told the Daily Mail.

And TV programs may be only part of the story.

"We haven't completed the research, but there is suspicion that this is related to much greater access to porn, so it is easier for women to compare themselves to actresses who may have had it done," Dr. David Veale, a psychiatrist who has studied vaginal rejuvenation, told the Guardian. "This is to do with the increasing sexualization of society - it's the last part of the body to be changed."

How about American women? Has porn pushed them to have the procedure? That's hard to say, given the absence of reliable statistics.

A spokeswoman for the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery told CBS News that the number of vaginal rejuvenation procedures in the U.S. dropped from 4,506 in 2007 to 2,531 in 2009. But she said most of the procedures were being performed not by plastic surgeons but by obstetrician-gynecologists - and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists told CBS that it has no statistics on vaginal rejuvenation.

What the og-gyn organization does have is a formal position on the procedure. It questions the safety of the procedure, saying it could can lead to infection, scarring, altered sensation, and "dyspareunia" - doctor-speak for painful sexual intercourse. It's conclusion: "Patients who are anxious or insecure about their genital appearance or sexual function may be further traumatized by undergoing an unproven surgical procedure with obvious risks."

What do you think? Should women leave well enough alone "down there" - or feel free to dial up a "designer vagina?"

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