Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure that corrects the size of the folds of skin or ‘lips’ of the vulva. It’s usually applied to the labia minora (inner lips) and less frequently to the labia majora (outer lips). This technique benefits the patient not only in an aesthetic sense but also in a functionally, since it alleviates the discomfort that a large labia can cause in the patients daily life, facilitates personal hygiene and improves her sex life.
Labiaplasty surgery applications are:
Labia Minora (inner lips) reduction
The labia minora are located inside the vulva behind the labia majora. Their size, shape, symmetry and colouration vary from woman to woman. Usually they are concealed behind the labia majora but an excessive length or thickness can make them protrude past them which can lead to certain problems
- When exposed beyond the protection of the outer labia they are exposed to constant friction against any tight clothing, and to trauma when doing physical movements, sports, or having sex. With time they acquire an aged appearance, darkened and cracked, which can impact negatively on the patient’s self esteem.
- Excess size and asymmetry makes personal hygiene more difficult which can lead to chronic irritation of the region.
- It also can make sexual intercourse painful.
Causes of labia minora hypertrophy aren’t clearly understood although they seem to be a result both of genetic factors and mechanical stresses and physical efforts of daily life, sex activity, pregnancy; some illnesses effects, hormonal variations during puberty, from hormonal therapy or other medications.
Reduction labiaplasty is the surgical technique that reduces the size of the labia minora. It is an outpatient procedure performed under local anaesthesia. It lasts about 30 minutes and the patient can return home immediately and resume her day-to-day activity.
This procedure can be performed as a singly or as part of a more extensive plastic surgery operation covering the whole genital area such as a thickening of the labia majora.
Usually this procedure is performed under general anaesthesia, although in some cases it can be done with epidural anaesthesia.
Given the ample variability of labia minora measurements among women, there is no medical chart providing general guidelines regarding which are correct in each case. That’s why the correction of each case of hypertrophic labia requires the surgeon to study the patient’s particular anatomy and aesthetic aspirations to decide the degree of correction to be imparted through the procedure.
Reduction Labiaplasty applies to patients who meet the following criteria:
- To have reached sexual maturity and be of age. Exceptions can be made in case of congenital malformations.
- Not being pregnant in order to minimize the effect that the related hormonal changes have on the body’s ability to recover after surgery. Labiaplasty can be performed before or after a pregnancy.
- Not be menstruating on the date of surgery, as it entails a larger risk of infection and bleeding in the intervened area.
- Not be suffering from lesions in the genital area, gynecological conditions (infections or neoplasia), uncontrolled diabetes, or conditions related to the blood’s clotting ability.
- Not be smoking around the date of surgery in so as not to impact recovery.
- Having realistic expectations about the achievable aesthetic improvement.
Reduction Labiaplasty can be done under local anaesthesia, conscious sedation, or general anaesthesia. It is usually performed under local anaesthesia, consisting of the injection of a saline solution with lidocaine and epinephrine in the labia minora which enlarges its tissues. That makes them easier to operate on and limits bleeding by constricting the blood vessels in the region. This type of local anaesthesia is usually supplemented with a mild sedation to make the patient more comfortable.
There is two aspects to Labiaplasty surgery: the first being the removal of both excess fatty tissue and mucous membrane tissue responsible for the hypertrophia. The second one is the removal of the excess skin, reshaping the labia to solve any asymmetry and achieve a pleasant, rejuvenated appearance.
After surgery, discomfort and care requirements are so minimal as to allow the patient to return home immediately. Usually there is no need for any kind of special underwear although the patient could choose to use a sanitary pad to feel more comfortable. Rest during the 24 to 48 hours following the procedure is recommend and also to avoid carrying out any great physical effort during the next 3 to 4 following days, not making use of either tampons or form-fitting clothes, and have no sexual intercourse for four weeks.
The doctor will explain the right way to wash the intervened area and how to apply an antibiotic cream to the labia minora, usually three times a day during the two days following surgery.
The patient will go through a follow-up consultation a week after the procedure, or sooner if the occurrence of haematoma (blood accumulation) is detected.
The surgical wound’s full healing and the shedding of stitches usually occurs 15 days after the operation. The scar will fade with time.
After the reduction procedure the inner lips stay swollen for a few days due to the effects of the anaesthetic and the surgery itself. This swelling will diminish during the following weeks. After a month the patient can have sexual intercourse. The swelling will have disappeared a month and a half after the operation.
Labiaplasty surgery isn’t prone to complications. If they occur they can be treated with a corrective intervention.
Outer lips (labia majora) reshaping
As the outer lips are easier to perceive through the use of form-fitting clothing, their augmentation or reduction usually has a far more immediate aesthetic impact. Luckily such corrections are easier to do through low impact surgery, such as a labia liposuction or the use of fillers.
LABIA MAJORA (OUTER LIPS) REDUCTION
The outer lips can grow in size due to excess skin or fatty tissue, aging, weight gain, pregnancy, etc. Usually a liposuction procedure in the region suffices and only in case of significant hypertrophy, reductive surgery becomes a necessity.
LABIA MAJORA (OUTER LIPS) AUGMENTATION
A decrease in outer lip size can also happen due to weight loss or aging. In such cases it can be addressed through the injection of body fat extracted from other areas of the body through liposuction (e.g. fatty deposits in the mons Venus) to give them back their turgidity. Dermal fillers such as Hyaluronic Acid can be injected in a similar manner to facial treatments, a single session being enough to attain the desired results.