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Page last updated at 07:03 GMT, Monday, 6 October 2008 08:03 UK
Vaginal surgery on the increase

By Sima Kotecha
Newsbeat US reporter

Surgeon holding scalpel and forceps
The number of labial reductions done by the NHS has doubled

When someone says "cosmetic surgery" what does it make you think of? Nose jobs perhaps, a face lift, or maybe even a breast enlargement?

In the ever changing world of nip and tuck, it's now vaginal reconstruction for women who aren't happy with the way their private parts look.

A growing number of females in the UK and in America are having this type of operation. They're happy to go under the knife to get their vision of a 'perfect' vagina.

New Yorker Beverly Reed had hers operated on to make it look more attractive.

It was making her miserable and damaging her confidence in the bedroom.

"I felt like a freak basically because I didn't think anyone else's looked that way.

"It was very embarrassing to have oral sex and we didn't, until I was confident he wouldn't react to the sight of it."

After hunting around for a solution to her problem, she came across the solution on the internet.

Unrealistic images

Within months she underwent surgery and paid more than 2,000 to have it done.

Doctor Helen Colen is the plastic surgeon in Manhattan who performed the operation.

She told Newsbeat the demand for vaginal reconstruction had always been there but it's only recently that women have felt comfortable asking for it.

"Today people examine everything and every part of their body. Today the vagina is not such a taboo as it was years ago."

Some doctors believe the reason for the trend is pictures in porn magazines or videos which show unrealistic images of women's bodies.

Beverly watched porn with her boyfriend and said it was tough to see the models naked because it made her feel inadequate.

She said: "The models look like they have the perfect vagina. Nothing is out of place.

"They're always shaved and immaculate. It's like looking at a model in a advert. Looking at the porn, I thought 'she doesn't look like me'."

Increased demand

The American Society of Plastic Surgery claims two years ago there were more than a thousand vaginal reconstructions in the US, and the numbers have been climbing ever since.

In Britain, these types of operations are also growing in popularity.

In the past five years, there has been a doubling of the number of labial reductions carried out on the NHS from 400 in 2000 and 2001, to 800 in 2004 and 2005.

Vaginal reconstruction can cost anywhere between 1,000 and 5,000 depending on what you have done.

But the procedure hasn't escaped criticism.

Experts warn there's little evidence to show the surgery works.

One 22-year-old New Yorker, who didn't want to give his name, was disgusted at the thought of a women having her bits fiddled with.

He said: "They should just leave it alone. It's natural and men don't care what it looks like!"

But for Beverly Reed, it's one of the best things she's ever done. Her new vagina makes her feel like a different woman.

"Sex is wonderful now. I don't have to put in my head that I have to feel comfortable with this man before he sees it.

"I'm a single woman in Manhattan and I'm doing pretty good."

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