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Labiaplasty

A labiaplasty is a surgical revision of the labia, the skin folds or "lips" at the opening of the vagina. Some women have labia that they feel are too large, loose, or asymmetrical, and a labiaplasty can correct these imperfections and create an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Why is labiaplasty needed?

There are two pairs of labia: the larger, outer labia (labia majora), and the smaller, inner labia (labia minora). It is the smaller labia minora that can be reduced with a labiaplasty, with an excision of the excess labia.

Large or misshapen labia minora may cause a woman embarrassment or even physical discomfort in tight clothing or a swimsuit. Some women would simply prefer to have a smoother contour for the external genitalia, with labia that are smaller and more visually appealing.

In some women, the labia have been a problem since childhood, whereas for other women the labia may have become a problem only after childbirth or with increased age or weight gain. Whatever the source of discomfort or desire for change, a woman can be assured of a confidential discussion about her concerns with a board-certified plastic surgeon.

How is the procedure performed?

There is more than one version of labiaplasty procedure, and a woman's unique anatomy will be a major determinant of the surgical procedure to be performed. Some women prefer to have a tighter contour to their external genitalia; others are not comfortable emotionally or physically with the size or shape of their labia. For some women, excessively large labia can interfere with sexual relations. A labia reduction is a relatively simple surgical procedure that removes the excess or imbalance of labial tissue.

In general terms, a labiaplasty is the surgical excision of labial tissue. The incision(s) for the labia reduction are relatively small and will leave minimal, perhaps undetectable, scars. The labiaplasty can be performed at an accredited surgical center or hospital, with general anesthesia; two hours is a typical surgery time, with a day spent in recovery under physician monitoring.

A patient with a sedentary, non-physical job may be able to return to work within about five days after the labiaplasty. Sexual relations may resume in about six weeks. However, it must be kept in mind that each patient's recovery will be unique.

Benefits and Risks

Immediately after a labiaplasty, a woman may experience mild and temporary swelling or discomfort, symptoms that usually subside completely after one or two weeks. The labia contouring may leave slight scarring that can become nearly undetectable. As with any surgery, a labiaplasty presents a slight risk of infection and post-surgery complications, but the procedure is a relatively minor, safe surgery. After a labiaplasty, the labia are smaller, less fleshy, and symmetrical. Many women and their partners have reported their satisfaction with the results.

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