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As women, we will do just about to achieve the perfect look. Some of what we do to improve our appearance is harmless: we shave our legs, cut and color our hair, stay up with the latest fashion trends. Some of us turn to cosmetic surgery, and most cosmetic surgery procedures are relatively safe, although all medical procedures come with some risk. However, there is a terrifying new plastic surgery trend where the substantial risks far outweigh the reward: labiaplasty.

What is labiaplasty?

Simply put, labiaplasty involves removing of the skin from the labia minora, or inner lips of the labia. The procedure can be completed under general anesthesia or a local anesthetic. The procedure involves shortening or reshaping the vaginal lips. Surgeons use a scalpel or a laser to perform the delicate procedure. The edges are sewn up with dissolvable stitches. The procedure generally takes one to two hours, and the patient can go home the same day.

Why do women get it done?

Rarely, women will get labiaplasty done because their large labia minora causes them pain, usually during intercourse. Most often, however, women have labiaplasty done for purely aesthetic reasons. Let's be clear here: women's labias come in all shapes and sizes, and this is perfectly natural. And, unlike many beauty trends, men have little to do with this one. If men are generally happy with their partner's sexual flower, why do women still have labiaplasty done?

The influence of pornography

Pornography plays a huge role in the labiaplasty trend. Women who watch pornography often request the procedure because they feel their labia is weird looking comparatively. Ironically, much like the airbrushed models that grace women's magazine's covers, the images shown in porn have little basis in reality. Pornographic photos edited by Photoshop create impossibly tiny labia that simply don't exist in reality. Even pornographic movies are shot to make a woman's labia meet an insane ideal of perfection that is simply not attainable.

The short-term risks

The short term risks associated with labioplasty are in themselves enough to make smart women eschew the procedure. Short term risks associated with labiaplasty include scarring of tissue, bleeding, infection, and asymmetry. Because of the location where the surgery is performed is vital to our urological tract, those prone to bladder infections run a great risk of infection post-surgery. There is also the risk of developing a blood clot that can cause a stroke.

…and long-term risks

The long term risks of labiaplasty are truly terrifying. Some potential long term affects include scarring which causes a permanently swullen labia, chronic pain from nerves being damaged during scar tissue formation, complications during pregnancy and childbirth, including the potential risk for additional surgery as the labia is stretched during childbirth and, most frighteningly, loss of sensation to the genital area. Women who get labiaplasty to increase their sexual appeal may sadly find they have very little interest in getting sexy afterward.

Because of the many risks, labiaplasty is generally not recommended by doctors unless medically necessary, and even then the possibility of a diagnosis error is high. One woman described her labiaplasty as an absolute nightmare. She had only the right lip done, and as a result, she wasn't even sure if there was any lip left on that side. Her vulva was so extremely swollen, sexual intercourse was impossible. Worst of all was the pain, and the fear that she had just made the biggest mistake of her life.

If you're still considering labiaplasty

If you're still considering having the procedure done despite these warnings, please protect yourself. Make sure you are going to a reputable plastic surgeon. Expect to pay anywhere between $4,600 to $6,000 to have the procedure done. Make sure your doctor is board certified, and make sure they take adequate time to answer all of your questions prior to the procedure. Examine your doctor's references. A bit of precaution now can save you from a lifetime of pain.

Better yet, why not reconsider having the procedure done altogether? As stated before, our lady bits come in all forms, like beautiful flowers. You wouldn't say a sunflower is ugly just because it isn't a rose. Embracing your sexuality means accepting and loving your body just the way you are. It's not worth risking your ability to experience sexual pleasure just to look a bit better in boudoir photographs. And any lover worthy of sharing intimacy with will love your body just the way it is.

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Guestpost by Kate Harveston, Political Journalist & Blogger. Kate writes at onlyslightlybiased.com and tweets @kateharveston.