Labiaplasty is a procedure designed to address the size and shape of the labia, or “inner lips” but may also involve surgery for the clitoral hood, known as clitoral hood reduction surgery, labia majora and mons pubis.
Labiaplasty can address various concerns, such as elongated or large labia, asymmetrical labia, and other issues which may result from elongated or protruding labia such as skin irritation, regular infections and discomfort.
The media often depicts female genitalia in an unrealistic way, where the vulva is airbrushed to a single crease or smooth curve. This often creates unrealistic expectations amongst women and what they think their vulva “should” look like, and labia abnormalities are not often discussed amongst women. This means some women might adopt the belief that their vulva is “not normal”, causing self-confidence issues. The truth is that no two women are the same, and every woman’s intimate area will be different. There is wide variation of external female genitalia in the community, a fact which is poorly appreciated. Thus, labiaplasty surgery is most appropriate for those experiencing complications due to size and shape of their labia, severe discomfort, loss of self-confidence and painful sex. Labiaplasty can help reduce discomfort, mend sexual confidence and self-esteem, and improve the overall quality of life.
At your consultation, you will discuss your health and medical history, your specific circumstances and their effect on you, and what you hope to achieve from a labiaplasty procedure. As a woman herself, plastic surgeon Dr Alaina Taylor will create a supportive and comfortable environment where you can feel safe to discuss your concerns, as she understands how daunting it can be to talk about an intensely personal topic. Photos will need to be taken of the examined area, but they will remain strictly confidential on your medical record and accessed only by your medical team. During the consultation, the information you provide will be crucial in developing a treatment plan that adequately addresses your concerns and anticipated outcomes.
Labiaplasty is performed under general or local anaesthetic and will take one hour to complete. The procedure will be different for every patient as it can be tailored to target your specific concerns, but the general goal of labiaplasty is to reduce the size of the labia minora, removing excess tissue and sculpting the labia into a more desirable size and shape. A commonly used technique is the wedge technique, which eliminates a wedge-shaped section of tissue to correct both the width and length of the labia tissue whilst providing a lifting effect to the perineal structures and posterior lip. Incisions are made in the folds of skin to lessen visibility, and dissolvable sutures are used to close the incisions, meaning you will not need to remove the stitches post-surgery.
Immediately following the procedure, it is normal to experience swelling, tenderness, pain, and slight bleeding. You will be prescribed pain medication and given cold compresses to reduce swelling. It is advised not to use the cold compresses for more than 15 minutes to avoid damaging the skin and over numbing the area, preventing you from noticing any abnormalities. You will need several days in bed to rest and to avoid irritating the surgical site by moving around. It may sting when you use the bathroom, and you will need to be gentle when wiping. It will take roughly six weeks to completely heal, as you avoid any sexual activity during that time. You will be able to go back to your regular exercise routine approximately two weeks after your procedure.
Risks and complications
Risks and complications have the potential to occur with any medical or cosmetic procedure you choose to undergo.
The following risks and complications are associated with labiaplasty:
- Excessive bleeding and swelling
- Poor scarring or pigment discolouration
- Anaesthesia complications
- Delayed healing and skin loss
- Loss of sensation
It is essential that you understand the potential risks and complications associated with labiaplasty before choosing to proceed. Following your post-operative recovery plan as advised by Dr Taylor will help decrease the potential for risks or complications and minimise scarring where possible.