A labiaplasty is surgery to reduce the size of the labia minora – the flaps of skin either side of the vaginal opening.
Some women consider having a labiaplasty because they don’t like the look of their labia, or because the labia cause discomfort.
What does it involve?
A labiaplasty can be carried out using either a general anesthetic or a local anesthetic with sedation. The procedure involves shortening or reshaping the vaginal lips. The unwanted tissue is cut away with a scalpel or possibly a laser, and the loose edge may be stitched up with fine, dissolvable stitches. The whole procedure takes about one to two hours. Some patients are able to go home the same day.
You may need to take some time off work to recover. It can take a couple of months for the skin to fully heal. During this time you need to:
- keep the area clean and free from infection
- wear loose underwear and clothes to prevent rubbing
- avoid sex for a few weeks
- use sanitary towels instead of tampons for a few weeks
Your surgeon would give you more specific advice that you should also follow.
Side effects to expect
It’s typical after a labiaplasty to have soreness, bruising and swelling for up to two weeks. Peeing and sitting during this period would probably be uncomfortable, although you’d be given painkillers to help with this.
What could go wrong?
A labiaplasty can occasionally result in:
- scarring of tissue
- reduced sensitivity of the genitals
Any type of operation also carries a small risk of:
- developing a blood clot in a vein
- an allergic reaction to the anesthetic
The surgeon should explain how likely these risks and complications are, and how they would be treated if they occurred.
Occasionally, patients find the desired effect wasn’t achieved and feel they need another operation.
What to do if you have a problem
Cosmetic surgery can sometimes go wrong and the results may not be what you expected. If you have a labiaplasty and you experience complications or are unhappy with the results, you should take up the matter with the surgeon who treated you.
Who shouldn’t have it?
A labiaplasty should not be performed on girls younger than 18. Their labia may continue to grow and develop well beyond puberty, into early adulthood.