Teenage girls as young as 15 are getting genital cosmetic surgery because the industry 'uses social media to tell them they are not normal' A concerning number of Australian girls under the age of 18 are seeking cosmetic surgery to change the look of their genitalia, a new study has revealed. Research published in the medical journal BMJ Open shows girls as young as 15 are undergoing procedures such as labiaplasties, even though the medical consensus is that female genitalia do not reach maturity until the age of around 18. Labiaplasties are surgical procedures that remove excess tissue from the labia - which are the inner and outer folds of the vulva, at either side of the vagina. +2 Teenage girls as young as 15 are requesting genital cosmetic surgery, a new study revealed Over 400 Australian GPs took part in the study, and of those more than a third said they have requests from girls under the age of 18 for for genital cosmetic surgery. Most of the girls cited concerns about the size of their labia as the reason for wanting cosmetic surgery, the doctors said. Simonis from the University of Melbourne led the world-first study, and said at least half of the requests came from females considered emotionally vulnerable, suffering from either anxiety, depression or body dysmorphic disorder. Dr Simonis, who is also a member of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), says there is an 'epidemic of anxiety about normality' and has accused the cosmetic surgery industry of exploiting women's ignorance of their biology. +2 Lead doctor on the study Dr Magdalena Simonis said the results were extremely concerning 'The industry is brilliant at using social media to convince women and girls that they have 'redundant' or 'excess' tissue, when in fact we know that the labia are rich with nerve fibres,' Dr Simonis said. 'The fact that surgery rates for 15-24 year-olds are the same for 25-45 year-olds is especially worrying, because female genitalia don't reach maturity until around age 18,' she said. Dr Simonis warns surgery to 'trim' labia can affect sexual response, because the clitoris is not just a 'pea' as described in textbooks, but is actually a larger organ of which most is not visible to the eye. The Medical Board of Australia now advises that girls under 18 seeking genital cosmetic surgery receive mandatory counselling and a three-month cooling-off period.