Performed in women after a childbirth; if the labia are large and thick causing discomfort when engaging in sport or wearing tighter clothing; and if it affects their sexual confidence
What is labioplasty?
A labiaplasty or labia reduction surgery is a procedure that reduces the size of, or reshapes labia minora/majora often known as inner and outer ‘lips’ surrounding the opening of the vagina.
The surgery improves certain symptoms such as chaffing, chronic wetness, drying or irritation which are due to excessively long or prominent labia minora (which are darkened, enlarged, and sagged due to pregnancy or other reasons) and excessive skin present in the clitoral hood.
A labiaplasty helps to create a more symmetric appearance of your external genitalia by removing the darkened folds and excess labia minora.
What are the types of the surgeries?
Labia reduction surgery is carried out by various surgical techniques, which include:
Edge resection technique: It is the original labiaplasty technique, which includes simple resection of tissues at the free edge of the labia minora.
Central wedge resection technique: The technique involves cutting and removing a partial-thickness wedge of tissue from the thickest portion of the labium minora. There exists a potential risk of damaging the pertinent labial nerves, if a full-thickness resection is performed, which can result in painful neuromas, and numbness.
De-epithelialization technique: The procedure is performed by cutting the epithelium of a central area on the medial and lateral aspects of each labium minora, either with a scalpel.
Which individuals are suitable for the surgery?
Women prefer to have labiaplasty:
- Following childbirth, as the genital area may change shape or size.
- If the labia looses tone or seem enlarged because of natural aging process. If the labia are large and thick causing discomfort when engaging in sport or wearing tighter clothing.
- If they are unhappy with the appearance of labia to the extent that it affects their sexual confidence
- If they are experiencing, chronic wetness, drying or irritation due to prominent labia minora
How should I prepare for the surgery?
Preparing yourself for the surgery by planning for the recovery period before the procedure can reduce the risk of complications associated with surgery. You should:
- Quit smoking and drinking for a specific period before 2 weeks of surgery.
- Avoid taking certain drugs (aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements) that could interfere with your healing process.
- Get a medical evaluation performed as ordered by the surgeon.
- Refrain from eating or drinking for at least 12 hours before your surgery.
What will happen during the surgery?
The procedure can be performed in an day care setting. Your doctor will administer a local or general anesthesia to numb the operating area. The process of resection is customized for every patient. The surgical procedure is also selected based on the expectations of the patient. Your surgeon will either trim the labial tissue and reduces the excess tissue along the edges of the labia or cuts a V-shaped wedge from beneath the labial tissue and then the edges are sewn to the back. Then, the incisions are closed with absorbable sutures. The procedure may take about 1 to 2 hours based on the extent of the repairs required.
What is the aftercare of the surgery?
Recovery usually is brief, and you may be discharged on the same day of the surgery. During your recovery period, you need to
- Take about a week off from work
- Take about two months off from strenuous exercise
- Avoid intercourse or placing anything inside the vagina (tampons) during those months.
- Wear a sanitary pad for comfort.
- Follow proper cleansing of the surgical wound site as instructed.
- Apply topical antibiotic ointment to the reduced labia as instructed.
- Do not miss a post-labiaplasty follow-up appointment with the surgeon within the week after surgery.
- Do not wear tight clothes (e.g. thong underwear), and avoid sexual intercourse for four weeks after surgery.
What are the postsurgical considerations?
Medical complications to a labia reduction surgery procedure are uncommon that include:
- Labial asymmetry
- Permanent changes in sensation
- Painful neuromas
- Ongoing pain