Labiaplasty: Procedure, Benefits & Recovery

Written By: Dr. Zofia Gordon

Dr. Zofia Gordon is a specialist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Medcare Women & Children Hospital. She completed her MD in Obstetrics and Gynaecology from Medical University of Lodz, Poland and a Speciality from Polish Mother's Memorial Research Institute Lodz, Poland. She is a member of the Polish Society of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians.

Updated On:May 23, 2024

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What is Labiaplasty? 

A surgical treatment called a labiaplasty can be used to change the size of your labia. This technique is typically performed as part of surgery for gender affirmation or to lessen physical pain in patients. There are many different types of normal labia; however, occasionally you could want labiaplasty for cosmetic reasons. There is no ideal or "normal" way for labia to appear because they are all different from one another.

The skin folds that surround your vaginal entrance are known as your labia. There are two folds of skin on you. The term labia majora, which translates to broad lips, refers to the outer folds. Your external genital organs are protected by these bigger fleshy folds. After puberty, they have pubic hair all over them. The term labia minora, which translates to little lips, refers to the inner folds. These folds of skin guard the openings of your vagina and urethra, which is where your urine leaves your body.

Purposes of Labiaplasty

Labiaplasty may be performed for medical reasons. Additionally, there are emotional, aesthetic, and physical causes. 

  • Physical and medical purposes: Labiaplasty is performed to make your labia minora smaller so they don't extend over the margins of your labia majora. When exercising, engaging in physical activities (such as jogging or biking), or having a sexual encounter, extra labial tissue might twist, turn, get pinched, or be pulled, resulting in physical discomfort and annoyance. Moreover, labiaplasty can be performed to promote better hygiene and wellness since using too much tissue can make cleaning more difficult and can house germs that can lead to UTIs.
  • Emotional and cosmetic purposes: Labiaplasty can be performed to lessen the labia minora's or labia majora's asymmetry (uneven shape), which occurs when one side is longer or formed differently. It can also be performed to increase sexual well-being, comfort, and confidence in how your genitalia looks during close contact. Remember that there is no typical labial appearance because people have a wide range of lip sizes and shapes.

Procedure of Labiaplasty

Before a Labiaplasty 

Your surgeon will first talk about your motivations for having a labiaplasty. You will talk about the dangers of the procedure as well as your objectives and expectations. They will do a psychiatric examination and inquire about any depression and/or anxiety. The specifics of your procedure will then be explained by your surgeon, including where incisions will be made and what to anticipate in terms of changes to the size and form of your labia.

Preoperative diagnostics including a chest X-ray, urine, and blood testing may be performed, as well. You will also receive instructions from your surgical team regarding what to wear on the day of the surgery, when to stop drinking and eating, and whether you need to change or stop any medication you are taking. They'll also provide you with further instructions on how to be ready for your procedure.

During a Labiaplasty 

After changing into a surgical gown, your healthcare professional will take your vital signs, including temperature, pulse, blood pressure, oxygen saturation, and breathing rate. Your blood and urine may be tested once more, too. A urinary catheter may also be inserted into your urethra, along with an intravenous (IV) line, in your arm or hand.

The skin around your labia will next be cleaned, and if necessary, your provider will shave the pubic region. Depending on your operation, you may have IV sedation along with either local or general anesthetic. During the preparation phase of your operation, your surgeon and you will talk about the best form of anesthetic for you.

In order to change the size or form of your labia (labia majora and/or labia minora), your surgeon will select the appropriate surgical approach. They often use a scalpel, scissors, or laser to carry out this procedure.

Labia Reduction Procedures 

You can reduce your labia (labia minora and/or labia majora) using one of two main methods:

  • Trim technique. With this technique, your surgeon trims away extra tissue from the labia minora's borders to bring them into alignment with or slightly within the labia majora's edges.
  • Wedge technique. The inner regions of one or both sides of your labia minora are exposed, and your surgeon uses this technique to remove a wedge- or pie-shaped piece of tissue. In order to preserve the wrinkled edge of your labia after doctors sew (suture) it, they leave the submucosa unaltered. Your labia minora will nonetheless seem more natural as a result. The inner section of each labium of your labia majora is also removed by your surgeon if you are undergoing surgery to decrease them.

Depending on their surgical skill or the outcome you're looking for, your surgeon may have different preferred procedures. Together, you and your surgeon will choose the best surgical strategy to address your objectives and concerns.

Labia Enlarging Procedures

Your surgeon will perform a liposuction operation to remove a little quantity of fat from another body part, such as your thigh or belly, and then inject it into your labia majora to increase its size. An approach is to inject hyaluronic acid into your labia majora.

After a Labiaplasty 

Your surgeon will remove your urinary catheter (if you had one) following surgery, and as the anesthetic wears off, you'll start to wake up. If you are bleeding more than usual, your medical staff will do a check. Your medical professionals will offer you information on how to take care of your wound while it heals before releasing you. Along with pain management, activity limitations, and follow-up appointments will be discussed.

Recovery from Labiaplasty 

Over the first several weeks following surgery, the initial swelling, discomfort, and temporary discoloration subside. After six weeks, most of the edema is gone. However, it can take up to four to six months for the swelling to go down entirely before you can see the ultimate effects of your labiaplasty. Scarring is typically little or nonexistent.

After a few days, you ought to be ready to resume your job and other mild activities. However, you might have to stay at home longer if your work requires lifting or hard labor. For four to six weeks, or until your surgeon gives the all-clear, avoid the following: strenuous activity, physical exercises including jogging, swimming, and cycling, as well as sexual activity. 

Early resumption of these activities increases the risk of wound pressure, torn sutures, and delayed healing.

Benefits of Labiaplasty 

A labiaplasty can provide much-needed pain and suffering alleviation for ladies who have had swollen, asymmetrical labia skin. You might also anticipate the following advantages of the procedure:

An improvement in comfort when wearing garments like tight-fitting underwear, pants, or swimsuits
A better encounter when being intimate
An enhanced comfort when engaging in activities like cycling, working out, and playing sports
An increased sense of confidence

References 

Kalampalikis, A., & Michala, L. (2023). Cosmetic labiaplasty on minors: a review of current trends and evidence. International Journal of Impotence Research, 35(3), 192-195.
Lista, F., Mistry, B. D., Singh, Y., & Ahmad, J. (2015). The safety of aesthetic labiaplasty: a plastic surgery experience. Aesthetic surgery journal, 35(6), 689-695.
Özer, M., Mortimore, I., Jansma, E. P., & Mullender, M. G. (2018). Labiaplasty: motivation, techniques, and ethics. Nature Reviews Urology, 15(3), 175-189.
Sorice, S. C., Li, A. Y., Canales, F. L., & Furnas, H. J. (2017). Why women request labiaplasty. Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 139(4), 856-863.

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