How one's external sex organs appear can sometimes affect one's self esteem. Some women do not like the look of outer genital folds that are outsized or overly irregular, which is a condition called protuberant labia. Women who are sexually active or who go for tight-fitting clothes or swimsuits get embarrassed with this condition. There are instances when this causes physical discomfort during sexual intercourse.
Labiaplasty is a specialized cosmetic surgical procedure that corrects a perceived "unattractive" labial appearance by the reduction of the outer folds of the labia minora, the tissue surrounding the vulva of the vagina. This operation is done for medical purposes, aesthetic reasons or a combination of both reasons.
Why labiaplasty should be considered?
The main purpose for considering undergoing labiaplasty
is for the woman to feel good about herself emotionally and physiologically. Other reasons for undergoing labiaplasty include the following:
- Labial disease or injury, like after childbirth
- Vaginal folds appearing oversized
- Irregular labia
- Hanging or protruding labia
- Discomfort in physical activities caused by the size or thickness of the labia
- Discomfort when wearing tight clothes because of labial size
- For a youthful-looking vagina
Labiaplasty is considered minor surgery and is thus done as an outpatient procedure. Traditionally, this is done by cutting off the excess skin then sewing over the edge. A disadvantage to this procedure is the long vertical stitch line which results in an unnatural appearance.
A newer technique calls for cutting the protuberant skin into a V-shape and stitching together the upper and lower edges. The only suture line then would look like a small transverse line.
A labiaplasty procedure is done for 1 to 1.5 hours with local anaesthesia although patients are given the option to choose general anaesthesia
. Other procedures may be done simultaneously. A hoodectomy, a procedure that would make the clitoris more exposed and give a woman easier sexual stimulation may be opted by some women. Vaginoplasty, a procedure that would make vaginal muscles
tighter, is another operation that could be done at the same time as the labiaplasty.
What are the risks associated with labiaplasty?
Risks to labiaplasty could be bleeding
, infection and scarring. A minimal risk of under-correction is easily remedied by a second operation. The certainty of minimizing risk is only through the services of an accredited plastic surgeon. You should find a cosmetic surgeon
with a considerable track record and experience of the procedure many times. Talking with previous patients can also help.
What to expect post labiaplasty?
Only minor discomfort would be experienced after the surgery, for which pain relievers would be prescribed for several days. You can go back to light activities on the same day but the surgeon
would recommend avoiding heavy exercises and sexual intercourse for 3 to 4 weeks after surgery.
There could be mild to moderate swelling in 2 to 3 days although the area expectedly heals fast. Labiaplasty is done with soluble stitches and the cuts are barely visible after total healing and the vaginal lips
would become thinner and look much better.
There is some controversy around labiaplasty. It has been called self-inflicted genital mutilation. Many concerns assert that the desire for labiaplasty has been influenced by media marketing that media emphasis on "ideal" genitalia has made women consider the appearance of their external genital appearance. There is, however, incontrovertible evidence that this procedure favours women with protruding vaginal lips who experience frequent physical discomfort.