It’s known in the cosmetic industry as a Barbie-plasty because it resembles a Barbie doll.

An extreme version of female genital surgery, or the labiaplasty, is now so popular that the number of procedures performed in Australia has more than tripled in the past decade.

Researchers say the biggest driver for genital surgery appears to be the advent of the Brazilian, or total pubic waxing.

But waxing, they say, has made women newly self-conscious about their genitalia, with many now convinced they are somehow abnormal.

It’s an issue that’s been given top billing at the Australasian Sexual Health Conference which opens in Sydney today.

Deborah Cornwall with this report.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: Melbourne GP Dr Magda Simonis says it’s not often she is left rattled by the demands and anxieties of her patients.

MAGDA SIMONIS: I had a teenage girl present with her mother requesting referral to a plastic surgeon following a Brazilian wax. And, the statement the mother made was that the teenage girl’s vagina had prolapsed.

DEBORAH CORNWALL: But she says the level of ignorance about what a normal vulva looks like was never an issue before Brazilian waxing became virtually mandatory for the under 40s.

MAGDA SIMONIS: The removal of pubic hair is becoming so much more common; in fact, in the Y Generation, it’s probably, you know, 80 per cent.

So removing the pubic hair I think has played a big part in this discovery of self.

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Deborah Cornwall reported this story on Friday, October 10, 2014