An excess amount of skin covering the clitoris and vagina can be a physical and psychological issue for many women. Some individuals are born with this enlarged and/or redundant labial tissue, and others may develop it as a result of trauma or childbirth. It can cause pain during intercourse or just be uncomfortable in tight clothing. Many women feel it is just unattractive and are embarrassed by it. Occasionally there is a marked difference in size between the labia on the two sides.
I have been surprised to find out how many women are so embarrassed about this problem that they will not even discuss it with their own gynecologist or obstetrician. No one deserves to be self-conscious about their body, and I want women to know they have options available to them to address this concern.
Performed by plastic surgeons, labiaplasty is a procedure designed to correct enlarged, stretched, or redundant tissue of the labia minora and/or labia majora. In addition to making the female external genitalia more aesthetically appealing, this operation can help improve comfort when wearing particular articles of clothing, participating in physical activity, or even engaging in sexual intimacy. By undergoing this treatment, numerous women have been able to enjoy renewed confidence and a significantly enhanced quality of life.
Good candidates for labiaplasty are typically women who have abnormally enlarged and/or asymmetrical labial tissue as a result of genetics, childbirth, menopause, dramatic weight loss, trauma, or the natural process of aging. Due to this elongated tissue, candidates will often be bothered by pain or self-consciousness when engaging in activities such as exercise or intercourse. In some cases, walking or wearing certain types of clothing can cause them to experience discomfort. Other candidates for labiaplasty include those who are simply seeking to improve the appearance of this delicate area of the body for a boost in self-confidence, which is a perfectly acceptable reason to pursue this procedure.
During a private consultation at my office, I can determine proper candidacy after performing a thorough examination and reviewing the needs/goals of prospective patients.
I feel this was a good thing to do and I’m glad I had the nerve to do it. If I needed it I would do it again.-Actual Patient, name omitted for privacy*
*Individual Results May Vary
The Labiaplasty Procedure
The labiaplasty operation is usually done as an outpatient under local anesthesia, but sedation is available for those who desire it. There are various ways of performing the operation, including a straight-line excision along the edge of the labia, a wedge excision of the upper half of the labia, and a wedge excision with a Z plasty (zigzag) closure of the upper half. I discuss the different options with each patient and customize my approach to best fit the individual’s needs.
On average, labiaplasty surgery takes about one to two hours to complete. Following the operation, patients are able to return home under the care and supervision of a close friend or family member.
Labiaplasty Recovery and Results
Recovery varies between patients. Some degree of swelling and/or bruising can initially be expected after labiaplasty, though these symptoms should subside over time. Postoperative pain is rare, but any mild to moderate discomfort experienced within the first few days of recovery can usually be controlled with medication. There is no need to return to have sutures removed, as all incisions are closed with absorbable sutures that come out on their own in about three weeks. Most women feel well enough to resume work and/or non-strenuous routines within a few days, but physical activities like exercise and sexual intercourse should be avoided for approximately four to six weeks.
Ultimately, the satisfaction rate of labiaplasty is exceptionally high. Once healing is complete and the results of treatment are fully realized, the vast majority of patients find they are able to feel both confident and comfortable in situations that would have led to anxiety and/or discomfort before their procedure was performed.