Women who experience childbirth may discover that their labia majora or labia minora has been stretched or otherwise altered. As a result, they may have loose labial skin that causes physical discomfort or is aesthetically displeasing. These problems also can occur due to aging, weight fluctuations, and even genetics.
Fortunately, a labiaplasty can reduce the size of the labia minora and majora to make the woman more comfortable and self-confident.
More women than ever are turning to labiaplasty to address concerns with their private areas. One estimate found a 39% increase in labiaplasties requested in 2016.
This article describes the most important aspects of a labiaplasty and enhancing both appearance and function.
Why Do Women Want A Labiaplasty?
First, it’s essential to know that a woman’s labia size and color vary widely. What’s ‘normal’ for a labia’s appearance is tremendously different across the female population.
But if the woman’s labia is too long, the extra tissue can make life uncomfortable and possibly interfere with daily functions.
For example, a runner whose labia is too long may find the tissue sticks to the leg during sprints. Labial tissue also can stick out too far and make it uncomfortable to sit on a bicycle seat.
Also, according to Houston Plastic Surgeon Dr. Ashley Steinberg, “Some women who think their inner labia are too long may be self-conscious about how their genitalia appear to others. This can lead to stress and anxiety during intercourse or when wearing revealing clothing.”
These concerns about the size and appearance of the labia are well-founded by research. For example, a 2016 study in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal asked why the subject group had had labiaplasty.
Some said they wanted an enhanced genital appearance, while others noted physical comfort was a priority. Also, most women in the study said they wanted labiaplasty for practical reasons.
This is an outpatient procedure that takes between one and two hours. Depending on the surgery’s specifics and your anatomy, you could be sedated with IV, general, or local sedation.
There are many kinds of labiaplasty, but there are two fundamental procedures your surgeon will use:
The plastic surgeon makes one incision on the edge of the labia minora to remove the extra tissue. This includes the outer edges. Some say it’s like when you prune the tops of hedges. The surgeon removes a piece of tissue that is predetermined.
Surgeons often use this method to remove tissue with pigmentation on the labial edge.
The surgeon takes out a V-shaped tissue wedge from the center of the labia minora. Next, they stitch the tissue that is left back together. This procedure pulls the whole labia minora length tighter and tucks it more into the vagina.
Some surgeons say this method provides a more natural-looking result, and there isn’t as much of a visible scar. The outer scar is located between the labia, while the inner scar is closer to the vagina.
Note that while taking out the central wedge removes the dark part of the labia, it won’t remove all of that tissue. In addition, surgeons note a lighter color with the trim method, but there will be edge irregularities you don’t have with the wedge procedure.
Which Labiaplasty Procedure Is Best?
Many surgeons disagree about which procedure is best for most patients. But one thing can be said for sure: At least 75% of patients who have labiaplasty will look fine with either procedure.
However, do you want the method to be more customized for your anatomy and aesthetic goals? Then you may prefer the wedge technique. This method will give your labia a ‘rougher’ appearance that some say is more natural-looking.
On the other hand, the trim method looks smoother, which some also prefer.
Also, surgeons say the wedge procedure is more complex, requiring more surgical skill. A wedge labiaplasty can lead to excessive tightening of the vaginal opening if done by unskilled hands. Or the urethral opening could be injured.
However, the trim method might be best for a long, enlarged labia. Also, the procedure is less demanding technically and simpler.
If your vulva needs a bit of a lift, the wedge method can be the way to go. This procedure can decrease the look of a wide-open vagina and fix sagging.
It’s essential to consult your surgeon to determine which labiaplasty method is best for your situation.
When you talk to surgeons, look at before-and-after pictures and check patient reviews to determine if the surgeon will provide the results you want.
Who Is An Ideal Candidate?
The ideal candidate for this procedure is someone who is uncomfortable or self-conscious because of the size or appearance of their labia. If you are interested in reducing the size of your labia or removing discolored skin, this could be a suitable procedure for you.
However, labiaplasty isn’t appropriate for patients who want the procedure because a partner wants them to have it. Also, if you are obsessed with an alleged body flaw and want surgery to correct it, you shouldn’t undergo plastic surgery at this time.
The early recovery period for this procedure is between three and five days. But it could be longer, depending on which procedure was used.
During the initial recovery phase, you should expect:
- Bruising and swelling
- Mild pain and discomfort can usually be managed with ibuprofen or Tylenol. However, your surgeon can prescribe prescription pain medication if you have moderate pain.
- Mild to moderate bleeding
Your plastic surgeon will give you more specific instructions about what you should do and not do during recovery. Remember to follow those directions carefully because your surgeon knows the procedure performed and the details of your anatomy.
Many surgeons report patients who have the fastest recovery take it easy for seven to 10 days. Bedrest, elevating the pelvis, pain relievers, and cold compresses will speed up recovery and reduce complications.
However, it’s also essential to take short 10 minute walks once or twice per day when you feel up to it.
Going to the restroom and sitting will be uncomfortable for the first week, but the swelling and pain will dissipate with time.
Remember that recovery takes a few weeks. So if you are thinking about other procedures, you can have all your recovery done at once. Popular options include liposuction, a tummy tuck, and a Brazilian butt lift.
A labiaplasty is an effective and popular surgery to rejuvenate the labia majora and minora. Most patients are delighted with their improved appearance and self-confidence, so talk to your surgeon about this procedure today.