Procedures

Labiaplasty

Plastic surgery of the labia minora and/or the labia majora is called a labiaplasty. Patients have varying reasons for requesting the removal of excess tissue of the labia, including concerns related to symmetry, size, childbirth, discomfort and others.

If the labia become enlarged or elongated, some women can experience a great deal of discomfort when wearing certain clothing or performing certain activities. Some also experience occasional hygiene issues. Other women are simply not pleased by the aesthetics of their vulva. Labiaplasty is a fairly simple surgery that can permanently correct these issues.

The goals of the labiaplasty procedure are to eliminate functional problems that cause pain and discomfort, while at the same time creating labia that are aesthetically appealing. The surgery has also been shown to have psychological benefits for many patients who were previously self-conscious about the appearance of their vulva.

UNDERSTANDING THE ANATOMY

Many people say “vagina” when what they really mean is “vulva.” The vulva is the part of a woman’s genitals on the outside of her body, which includes the labia, clitoris, opening of the urethra, vaginal opening and mons pubis (the fleshy mound above the vulva that ​​cushions the pubic bone). No two vulvas look exactly alike, but they’re made up of these same basic parts.

The labia are the external folds or “lips” of skin that surround the structures of the vulva. The labia majora are the larger lips that cover the inner structures of the vulva. The labia minora are the smaller lips located inside the labia majora; they begin at the clitoris, where they form the clitoral hood, and extend downward alongside the opening of the vagina.

Labia minora come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They may be plump or thin, even or asymmetrical, deep burgundy or pale pink, wrinkled or smooth, short or long, visible or hidden. Every configuration is uniquely beautiful, but even though there is no “normal” when it comes to the appearance of a woman’s vulva, there are many reasons why one may want to consider labiaplasty.

PERSONALIZING YOUR LABIAPLASTY PROCEDURE

Labiaplasty typically addresses the labia minora. It is less common to treat the labia majora, but this is also an option for a suitable candidate. Some women have excess skin of the labia majora or loss of the natural fat in the labia majora. Your plastic surgeon will partner with you to determine which surgical approach best suits your needs. 

These are three of the most commonly used labiaplasty techniques to address the labia minora:

Trim

In the trim technique, an incision is made along the full length of the labia minora, and a strip of excess skin is removed. Trim labiaplasty can effectively reduce size, improve symmetry and remove pigmentation that some women feel is undesirable. This technique tends to work best for women with redundant labia minora that extends along the entire length of the labia minora.

Wedge

In the wedge technique, a triangular or wedge-shaped section of tissue is removed from the largest part of the labia minora. The two smaller sides are then stitched together. Wedge labiaplasty leaves the outer edge of the labia minora intact, preserving its natural shape and color. This technique tends to work best for women with a localized area of redundancy.

Clitoral Hood Reduction

Some women also have excess clitoral hood tissue, usually lateral clitoral hood tissue. For these women, there is a procedure called a clitoral hood reduction, which is most commonly performed in conjunction with a labiaplasty. The excess tissue of the clitoral hood is trimmed, making it more proportionate, while leaving enough tissue to properly protect the clitoris.

INCORPORATING LABIAPLASTY INTO A MOMMY MAKEOVER

There is much to celebrate about motherhood, but moms know that pregnancy and childbirth can also come with unexpected changes. Mommy Makeover surgery refers broadly to a set of procedures that address some of the undesirable physical effects of these life milestones. Labiaplasty is a natural fit for a Mommy Makeover, given that some women are left with elongated, loose or hanging inner labia tissue after vaginal deliveries.

Every Mommy Makeover is personalized to the woman having it. The most common procedures included are some form of breast surgery to restore volume and/or lift and a tummy tuck or liposuction to reshape the abdomen. Please see our Mommy Makeover page or visit our blog to learn more about this transformative procedure.

DECIDING IF LABIAPLASTY IS RIGHT FOR YOU

The reasons to undergo labiaplasty are as varied and diverse as the women who have the procedure. Some women are interested in labiaplasty for physical reasons, some for emotional or psychological reasons, and some for a combination of factors.

The aesthetic benefits of labiaplasty can alleviate distress caused by self-consciousness about the appearance of your labia minora or labia majora. Labia that are oversized, protruding or irregularly shaped may make you feel embarrassed wearing tight swimwear or engaging in intimacy with a partner. Alternatively, you may be looking for rejuvenation if your labia have developed a “deflated” appearance due to aging or weight loss. 

Women also choose labiaplasty to improve their health and comfort. Large labia can cause physical irritation when wearing certain types of clothing, such as form-fitting fitness leggings, or when engaging in activities like riding a horse or bicycle. Large labia can also lead to pain, inflammation or decreased sensation during sex or make it difficult to maintain optimal hygiene.

Surgeries and recoveries are more successful for patients who are as healthy and strong as possible. Good candidates for labiaplasty are in good general health, have realistic expectations and do not smoke. The vulva can change with future hormonal challenges such as a change in birth control, future pregnancy or menopause.

Please note that labiaplasty surgery is not for patients with gynecological diseases.

PREPARING FOR YOUR LABIAPLASTY

Before your labiaplasty with Edina Plastic Surgery, you will go through a thorough consultation process. Your surgeon will discuss the different surgical techniques available to you and the benefits and drawbacks of each option. Your surgeon will help you choose the approach that aligns best with the concerns you express and the improvements you hope to achieve. The consultation will also cover the cost of the procedure, the associated risks, the anticipated recovery timeline and any questions or concerns you may have.

Although it may feel strange to talk about such a personal subject, rest assured there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel more comfortable and look your best. Our surgeons conduct labiaplasty consultations with compassion, sensitivity and discretion.

THE LABIAPLASTY PROCEDURE

Labiaplasty surgery can be successfully performed under local anesthesia, sedation or general anesthesia. Most of these procedures are performed at Edina Plastic Surgery’s accredited in-house surgery center.

Our staff will begin the procedure by getting you positioned comfortably in an operating suite and administering the chosen type of anesthesia. Surgical scissors or a scalpel will be used to trim the labia according to the technique selected during your consultation. The closure of the incisions is usually done with dissolvable sutures.

For a labiaplasty alone, the procedure is usually completed within two hours. An operation that combines labiaplasty with another procedure may take longer.

WHAT TO EXPECT DURING LABIAPLASTY RECOVERY

Post-operatively, self-care within the first 48 hours is critical to successful long-term recovery from a labiaplasty. Icing right after surgery and frequently for the first 48 hours is important in reducing the swelling. Some providers recommend warm sitz baths twice per day with Epsom salts to help the swelling resolve further after the first 48 hours. Witch hazel pads can also help with swelling and pain control after the procedure. Over-the-counter pain medication is generally sufficient to manage any discomfort, although some women need narcotics for a couple of days after the procedure.

Plan to take some time off work following your labiaplasty procedure. Many patients feel comfortable resuming work and most daily activities within a few days. Please suspend your normal exercise routine for two to three weeks and plan for vaginal rest for six to eight weeks. It is helpful, if you can predict it, to schedule your labiaplasty at the beginning of your menstrual cycle (right after the end of your period). The vulva will be less sensitive and you will not have to worry about managing your menstrual period with your surgical incisions.

As with any surgical procedure, labiaplasty has the potential risk for bleeding and infection. Other risks, including painful scarring and painful intercourse, are rare. Some patients may experience prolonged swelling past eight weeks, and in some cases, it may take six months to a year for swelling to resolve fully. A small amount of asymmetry after a labiaplasty is to be expected, as the anatomy of the labia are often asymmetric and may dictate the amount of tissue that can be excised on each side.

LABIAPLASTY RESULTS

Labiaplasty is often more than cosmetic; it truly improves a woman’s quality of life. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that, according to multiple studies, labiaplasty surgery has a high satisfaction rate of over 90 percent.

Following this procedure, our patients say they are physically more comfortable as well as more comfortable in their skin.

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