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Page last updated at 05:24 GMT, Monday, 20 October 2008 06:24 UK
Vaginal surgery on the rise in UK

By Briar Burley
Newsbeat reporter

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

It is already popular in the States, but a growing number of women in the UK are considering going under the knife to alter the look of their private parts.

Labiaplasty is an operation to change the shape and size of parts of the vagina.

23-year-old Emma was embarrassed about how she looked downstairs - so much so that she asked us to change her name.

She said: "My mum brought it up with me when I was about 14 or 15, and she said 'Ooh' and I then thought maybe I'm not normal.

"And my sister then said 'I haven't got that either' - and then it made me more conscious."

She said she considered the surgery for some time. And she's not alone.

'300% increase'

Doctors say a growing number of women are contacting them about the operation.

James Murray, from medical group Surgicare said: "In the last year we've seen a 300% increase in the procedures we've undertaken.

"And over the last three years we've seen a 700% increase in the number of enquiries for this particular procedure."

Many of the operations are done by private medical groups and can cost up to 3000.

But in the past five years the number of women having it done on the NHS has doubled.

Doctors offer the treatment to patients who are experiencing discomfort or suffering psychological problems because of the way they look.

'I was nervous'

Melanie (not her real name) is 21 years old and had the procedure done on the NHS last year.

She said: "Obviously I was nervous. It was a general anaesthetic. I went in for my operation at 10 o'clock and I left at six."

I'm happy with what's been done - it's improved my sex life massively

If you're thinking about getting it done the advice is to talk to your doctor and do lots of research. Some people also advise seeing a counsellor first.

Melanie said she's glad she had it done, although looking back she's not sure she really needed to.

She explained: "Obviously I was very conscious, I would think about it every day, but when I look back I think it was more in my head because I wasn't that bad really at all down there.

"I'm happy with what's been done - it's improved my sex life massively - but who knows if I would've got over it without the surgery."

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