Labiaplasty (also known as labioplasty, labia minora reduction, and labial reduction) is a plastic surgery procedure for altering the labia minora (inner labia) and the labia majora (outer labia), the folds of skin surrounding the human vulva. There are two main categories of women seeking cosmetic genital surgery: those with congenital conditions such as intersex, and those with no underlying condition who experience physical discomfort or wish to alter the appearance of their genitals because they believe they do not fall within a normal range.
The size of the labia can change because of childbirth. Genital piercing can increase labial size and asymmetry, because of the weight of the ornaments. Labia reduction surgery is relatively contraindicated for the woman who has active gynecological disease, such as an infection or a malignancy; the woman who is a tobacco smoker and is unwilling to quit, either temporarily or permanently, in order to optimize her wound-healing capability; and the woman who is unrealistic in her aesthetic goals. The latter should either be counselled or excluded from labioplastic surgery.
The labiaplasty procedure involves reducing the size of the vulva (the inner lips) so that they are smaller than the labia majora (outer lips). Before any of this will take place, a consultation will occur with our surgeon who should check your history and make sure that you are aware of the risks that come with the surgery. You will be advised to stop taking certain medications for a set period beforehand and the day before the surgery you will be asked to shave your pubic hair. The labiaplasty procedure itself will be performed under a general anaesthetic and is usually performed by amputation whereby the surgeon cuts and removes part of the vulva using a scalpel or laser. Other vaginal surgery options are available too and which one you choose will depend on your reasons for undergoing a labiaplasty. It can take up to one year to see the final results.
POST OPERATIVE CARE
Post-operative pain is minimal, and the woman is usually able to leave hospital the same day. No vaginal packing is required, although she might choose to wear a sanitary pad for comfort. The physician informs the woman that the reduced labia are often very swollen during the early post-operative period, because of the edema caused by the anaesthetic solution injected to swell the tissues. She is also instructed on the proper cleansing of the surgical wound site, and the application of a topical antibiotic ointment to the reduced labia, a regimen observed two to three times daily for several days after surgery.
The woman’s initial, post-labiaplasty follow up appointment with the surgeon is recommended within the week after surgery. She is advised to return to the surgeon’s consultation room should she develop hematoma, an accumulation of blood outside the pertinent (venous and arterial) vascular system. Depending on her progress, the woman can resume physically unstrenuous work three to four days after surgery. To allow the wounds to heal, she is instructed not to use tampons, not to wear tight clothes (e.g. thong underwear), and to abstain from sexual intercourse for four weeks after surgery.
ADVANTAGES OF LABIPLASTY
The main labiaplasty advantages are an increased level of self confidence and an increased level of self esteem following the operation. Depending on the reason for the vaginal surgery, some women may also report a decrease in discomfort both due to clothes and sexual intercourse. Sometimes a labiaplasty is also performed to increase the chances of a woman reaching orgasm during intercourse, and again when successful this is clearly an advantage.
DISADVANTAGES OF LABIPLASTY
There are also some labiaplasty health risks which include an infection following surgery, a painful or uncomfortable labia following surgery, numbness where there was none before and painful urination. Whilst some of these problems can be overcome, some may also be permanent. However, whether you think labiaplasty or indeed any cosmetic vaginal surgery is worth it will purely be an individual decision but it is important to remember that unless your health is suffering, you are likely to be normal “down there”. Every woman is different and you should not be forced into feeling like you need cosmetic vaginal surgery; instead it should be a purely individual decision and one that should be discussed thoroughly