Soaring Demand for Female Genital Surgery Sparks Debate in Brazil

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Plastic surgeon Andre Hazan shows a picture of the vagina that he uses during consultations with his clients at his office, during an interview with Reuters in Rio de Janeiro
Plastic surgeon Andre Hazan shows a picture of the vagina that he uses during consultations with his clients at his office, during an interview with Reuters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 4, 2017. Picture taken September 4, 2017. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
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By Alexandra Alper
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters)

In Brazil, a country famed for its obsession with the body beautiful, women are increasingly opting for surgery aimed at improving the appearance of their genitals, stirring a debate about sexual empowerment and the pressure for physical perfection

Plastic surgeons in Latin America’s top economy, known for pioneering the Brazilian Butt Lift that transfers fat from other areas of the body to the buttocks, have seen a massive spike in demand for labiaplasty, a surgery that slims or plumps the labia.

The number of women in Brazil having such surgery soared by 80 percent to 23,155 in 2016, the highest in the world, according to figures from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS).

 

Plastic surgeon Andre Hazan shows drawings in a book and some photos of his patients during an interview with Reuters in Rio de Janeiro
Plastic surgeon Andre Hazan shows drawings in a book and some photos of his patients during an interview with Reuters in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 4, 2017. Picture taken September 4, 2017. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

 

By comparison, the United States, which has around 55 percent more people, registered 13,266 procedures.

Women are opting for the surgery in record numbers despite Brazil’s deepest downturn since the 1980s, with the economy shrinking more than 7 percent between 2015 and 2016.

Critics say the trend is a worrying sign of how pornography is warping women’s sense of their bodies, as a cultural preference for pubic hair removal pressures them to conform to new notions of genital perfection, labeled by some “the designer vagina.”

 

Plastic surgeons, meanwhile, argue that it is a form of female empowerment

Latin women live in a macho culture: he is the one who rules in the office, in the home, in the sex life. Now as women … we are leading at home and in jobs and we want to lead in our sex lives,” said Lina Triana, a Colombian plastic surgeon who performs the procedure, and has written and lectured about it.

“Even in a bad economy, this is something that we need.”

 

 

Labiaplasty originated in the 1970s with reconstructive surgery to remove excess tissue from labia minora that could cause pain during sexual intercourse and physical activity, Triana said.

But techniques have improved and demand soared 45 percent worldwide from 2015 to 2016, making it the fastest growing cosmetic surgery, according to ISAPS.

The popularity of genital procedures has been boosted by celebrities, including U.S. television personality Khloe Kardashian, who said lasering to tighten the vagina was a hot topic of conversation for her sisters Kim and Kourtney after childbirth.

 

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