Labiaplasty is a type of plastic surgery that changes the shape and size of the labia minora. The labia minora are the inner "lips" on either side of the vaginal opening.
As more women learn that it’s an option for certain problems, it’s becoming more popular. There are a lot of myths and wrong ideas about labiaplasty.
This article explains what labiaplasty is, who gets it, and why they get it It clears up some of the most common myths about labiaplasy. The goal is to give accurate information so women can make the best decisions for themselves.
Labiaplasty means plastic surgery on the labia minora. The labia minora are the inner lips of the vulva. The vulva is the external genital organ of women.
Labiaplasty is usually done to:
- Make long or large labia minora shorter
- Fix uneven labia so they match better
- Reshape labia that have irregular borders or edges
During the surgery, extra tissue is removed, which makes the labia smaller and more even. It reduces the inner lips from hanging below the outer lips, called the labia majora.
Labiaplasty takes 1-2 hours and is done under general anesthesia or local anesthesia. General anesthesia means being fully asleep. Local anesthesia means the area is numbed so you don't feel pain.
Some people think labiaplasty is only for teenagers who feel embarrassed about their genitals, but this isn't true. Women of all ages have labiaplasty. The average age is mid-30s. Some patients are even in their 60s and 70s.
Here are some reasons women get labiaplasty:
- Discomfort during exercise or daily activities
- Rubbing and irritation from tight clothing
- Pain or issues during sex
- Improved comfort and cleanliness
- More self-confidence and better body image
So, while some younger women want labiaplasty for appearance, many older women do it to fix physical discomfort.
Another common myth is that labiaplasty is only for looks, but many women get it to relieve irritation, rubbing, and chafing from large inner labia.
Dr. Cory Torgerson, an expert from Sovereign Female's labiaplasty surgery in Toronto, shared that one of his patients chose to have labiaplasty to alleviate constant discomfort during yoga and other exercises!
An oversized or long labia can physically interfere with daily activities. Reducing the length takes away irritation and pain from the labia rubbing on clothing and the outer lips. For these women, the surgery improves their quality of life.
Some women worry reshaping the labia will take away sensitivity and make it harder to orgasm, but this concern is unwarranted when the surgery is done properly by an experienced surgeon.
A labiaplasty should not damage any nerves responsible for sexual pleasure as long as the procedure is anatomically precise. The labia minora itself contains relatively few nerve endings compared to other genital structures.
The most sensitive areas of the vulva are concentrated mainly on the clitoris, clitoral hood, and vaginal opening. The human clitoris has more than 10,000 nerve fibers, according to new Oregon Health & Science University-led research.
As long as these highly innervated structures are meticulously avoided and left untouched during a labiaplasty procedure, a woman's overall genital sensation should remain unaffected.
Experienced surgeons use extremely careful techniques to excise only redundant labia minora tissue while vigilantly preserving the neurovascular bundles that run along the vulnerable borders.
The vast majority of patients report either no detectable changes or even an enhanced sensation following labiaplasty. The removal of excess or irritated tissue can sometimes heighten tactile feedback by exposing more responsive nerves, but loss of sensitivity is rare.
While any surgery results in some degree of scarring, the incisions made during a labiaplasty procedure tend to heal extremely inconspicuously.
The vulvar tissue is thin and vascular, with abundant blood circulation. This allows the surgical wounds to mend quickly and with minimal visible scarring.
Surgeons place the labiaplasty incisions along the natural folds, creases, and junctions of the vulva. The scars form parallel to the surrounding architecture and color variations. This aligned positioning enables the fine-line scars to discretely blend in and camouflage over time.
While some temporary firmness or lightening of the scars is normal during the initial healing phase, the scars continue to mature and fade over months to years.
Silicone sheeting or gels and daily SPF protection can help minimize long-term scarring.
Some critics say labiaplasty is an unnecessary "designer" surgery with big risks. However, when done by a qualified, skilled plastic surgeon, risks are very low.
Typically, 89% of patients don’t experience any side effects whatsoever. Less than 9% of patients have minor issues like infection or bleeding.
As with any surgery, patients should choose their doctor carefully, follow post-op instructions, and allow enough healing time, but major complications are rare when performed by an experienced surgeon. For most patients, the benefits outweigh the small risks.
Some critics argue that the cosmetic effects of labiaplasty will not last long term. They suggest that the reshaped tissue will inevitably stretch back out and return to its original size and shape with time.
However, this notion is false for the vast majority of patients when proper surgical techniques are utilized.
During a labiaplasty, the redundant portions of the labia minora are completely excised and removed - not just "tucked in." The tissue is permanently gone, and what was excised will not gradually grow back or descend again.
That said, a small subset of patients could experience some loosening or relaxation years down the road. Factors like significant weight fluctuations, pregnancy and childbirth, and aging can rarely influence tissue laxity to a minor degree.
For most women who maintain a stable weight, the enhanced aesthetics achieved from their labiaplasty prove to be remarkably lasting.
Surgeons take care to preserve the youthful v-shaped contour between the labia minora and majora, preventing an "amputated" appearance from over-resection. This preserves the anatomy and ingrowth points to keep the labia anchored in place.
As long as the surgeon does not overly aggress the tissue removal, most patients can expect permanent, lifelong results from their labiaplasty procedure.
The first step is for the plastic surgeon to discuss the patient's goals and examine the anatomy. Together, the patient and doctor decide on the desired outcome.
The surgeon will mark lines guiding where tissue will be removed. These lines follow natural contours for optimal results. Patients are given medication to relax before the procedure.
Next, the surgeon will inject local anesthetic or give general anesthesia. They carefully remove excess tissue along the planned lines and angles. Dissolving sutures are used to stitch up the area inside and out.
After surgery, patients can usually return home the same day. Medications are prescribed for pain, and antibiotics to prevent infection. Soft pads are worn over the area for protection and comfort.
Patients should take 2-3 days to rest at home after labiaplasty. Use ice packs and take pain relievers as needed. After 2-3 days, most women have little pain. There may be some itching and irritation from the dissolving stitches.
Swelling and bruising are common during the first week. Avoid strenuous activity for 1-2 weeks. Refrain from sexual intercourse for 2-3 weeks. After 2 weeks, patients can gradually return to normal routines. Most discomfort subsides within 6 weeks.
Results are partially visible immediately after swelling decreases. but final results emerge over 3 months as swelling disappears. Scars continue to fade over the next several months.
While major complications are uncommon, labiaplasty does have some risks:
- Excessive bleeding (hematoma)
- Poor wound healing
- Asymmetry between labia
- Nerve damage
- Unsatisfactory cosmetic results
Choosing an experienced surgeon reduces risks. Follow all post-op instructions carefully. Call your surgeon with any concerns. With proper precautions, risks stay low.
In very rare cases, a patient may be dissatisfied with the aesthetic outcome of their labiaplasty or experience a surgical complication. This raises the question - what legal rights and recourse do patients have if their surgery is not successful?
While every situation is unique, there are a few key factors to consider:
- Negligence - To have grounds to sue for malpractice, there must be proof the surgeon acted negligently. Simply being unhappy with results does not qualify.
- Informed consent - Patients must give informed consent outlining all risks and limitations beforehand. This makes lawsuits challenging.
- Timing - Most states limit the timeframe you have to sue after surgery, often 1-3 years.
- Damages - There must be proof of significant damages like disability, loss of wages, or high medical costs. Minor imperfections alone are usually not enough.
- Alternatives - Patients may be asked to explore fixes like revision surgery before resorting to lawsuits.
Choosing an experienced, ethical surgeon you trust can help avoid any major issues.
It's important to research surgeons thoroughly before scheduling a labiaplasty. Look for these qualities:
- Board-certified in plastic surgery
- Completed fellowship training in female cosmetic surgery
- Uses advanced techniques to protect nerves and vessels
- Has before/after photos to show results
- Operates in accredited surgical facilities
- Warm bedside manner and open communication
An experienced, trustworthy surgeon trained in female anatomy can help patients decide if labiaplasty is right for them.
Several factors cause the cost of labiaplasty to range from $2000 - $6000:
- Geographic location
- Surgeon's experience and qualifications
- Type of surgical facility
- Anesthesia fees
- Extent of correction needed
Many practices offer financing plans to make labiaplasty more affordable. Some health insurance plans may cover part of the cost if medically necessary.
Women interested in labiaplasty should gather complete information to understand their options, breakdown stigmas, and misinformation.
Talk to an experienced, compassionate plastic surgeon you trust. Be open about your goals and motivations. Manage expectations about benefits and risks.
With realistic expectations about results, labiaplasty can successfully and safely improve discomfort, appearance, confidence, and self-esteem.