Labiaplasty is a cosmetic surgery procedure that surgically reshapes or reduces the external appearance of the vagina. Enlarged inner or outer labia lips of the vagina may cause discomfort, embarrassment, or adversely affect sexual intimacy. Age, childbirth, hormones, and weight loss can cause enlarged labia, or it can occur naturally. Sometimes it may occur only on one side. Local irritation and problems with personal hygiene can interfere with sexual intercourse and cause discomfort during other activities like cycling, walking or sitting. Labiaplasty can relieve the emotional and physical discomfort associated with labia majora (outer lips) and labia minora (inner lips) conditions. The goal of the surgery is to provide a balanced, comfortable appearance of the labia area. The procedure is considered to be a cosmetic procedure and is not covered by insurance.
Is It Right for Me?
The labia area is a sensitive issue for women. Candidates may have a poorly defined labia anatomy, which can make everyday activities difficult. Close-fitting pants and bathing suits may be uncomfortable. Sporting activities may be difficult. All of these factors can be distressing and sometimes painful. Labiaplasty can restore the contour of the labia minora or labia majora, and alleviate these distressing conditions.
Fully developed young women and adult women who are in good health are the best candidates. However, patients with certain medical conditions may not be appropriate for this treatment. The procedure does not result in perfection and results are limited by each woman’s personal anatomy, so be sure to discuss your expectations. It is important to state what you want to change or make smaller.
After a physical examination and review of your medical history, your goals and expectations will be discussed. A treatment plan will be developed, then the precise technique for your procedure can be determined. Your procedure may include the surgical reduction of the labia major (outer lips) or labia minor (inner lips) or both. Time in surgery is typically one to two hours. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia, while you are numbed and awake. Sedation or general anesthesia is not necessary and adds significant cost, but is available for those who desire it.
During this procedure, the labia will be reduced and sculpted to achieve as close to the desired affect as possible. The appropriate incision location depends on many individual factors, including the configuration and texture of the labia. The doctor will then suture the incision closed with dissolvable stitches.
The labia and surrounding area may be bruised and swollen. Swelling is worst the first few days and typically lasts for several weeks. Topical and oral medications can be administered to reduce pain. Oral antibiotics may be prescribed to reduce the risk of infection. Severe pain or abnormal symptoms should be reported to the doctor immediately. After the surgery, activity will consist of restriction of heavy exercise for 4 weeks, restriction of sexual relations for six to eight weeks, and no tampon use for ten days.
The final appearance will be evident in three to six months.
Complications and Risk
Complications are a possibility with any medical procedure. The risk can be reduced by carefully following pre-operative and post-operative instructions.One of the most common, but infrequent complications is temporary numbness or infection. Other risks include excess scar tissue build up (appearing as lumps on the treated area), a hematoma (break in blood vessel causing localized blood filled area or blood clot), puckering or creases of the skin, or sensitivity loss in the treated area. However, the treated area does not play a part in sexual sensation. Some patients may experience asymmetry between the inner and outer labia lips. There may also be variances in pigmentation, thickness, and uneven edges of the labia. Please See the Photo Gallery for before and after pictures.
For specific questions regarding labiaplasty please e-mail any questions through the Contact Icon or Ask a Nurse.
(This content written by Dr. Pettigrew)