Even as cosmetic surgery in women has become more pervasive - from external body parts to now female genital mutilation - experts have voiced their concern over this state of affairs.
The study mentions that cosmetic surgery as well as female genitalia surgery is increasingly becoming commonplace without understanding the long-term effects on health and unseen changes in women' bodies. It also reveals that the procedures used to cosmetically modify female external genitalia are exactly the same as those employed in female genital mutilation (FGM). Whereas there is legislation in both Europe and Africa against FGM, there is none against female genital cosmetic surgery.
Scientists have expressed concerns about lack of awareness about risks and complications of cosmetic surgery in women.
They bring to light polemic issues related to cosmetic surgery, body image and sexuality and examine the controversy generated by the use of available resources, including skilled surgeons, for such procedures, when essential health and medical care are subject to serious restrictions in both developed and developing countries.
The study questions whether these procedures are "permanent" solutions, whether beautifying effects actually last, and whether people's lives are in fact changed for the better after the procedure. On one hand, it may relieve people of their preoccupations with their appearances, it may also promote low self-confidence amongst other women - encouraging them to go under the knife.
More importantly, the scientists raise questions about the extent of informed consent and the ways all these practices should be regulated to protect patients.
The journal is May 2010 issue of Reproductive Health Matters.