Often confused with vaginal rejuvenation, labiaplasty surgery addresses not the vagina itself, but the appearance of the labia minora, or outer lips that surround the vagina. For some women, the shape and size of their labia minora can trigger feelings of embarrassment. Other women may suffer from physical discomfort, and even functional problems, such as the issue negatively effecting forms of exercise.
Within the privacy of their homes, women are turning to the Internet to research surgical options aimed at improving their most private parts. As a result, women today are more aware of the benefits of labiaplasty than ever before. The once taboo procedure is seeing a sharp rise in popularity.
“A labiaplasty is really just reducing the size or the protuberance of the labia minora,” explains board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Mary Gingrass of the Plastic Surgery Center of Nashville. “For a lot of women, that’s something that makes them feel so much better about themselves.”
Am I Normal Down There?
Genetics play an important role in determining the size, shape and color of the labia minora. Additionally, pregnancy, childbirth, aging and weight fluctuations can all contribute to changes in the appearance as women age. “It’s an area that is surprisingly different from woman to woman,” says Dr. Gingrass, who points out that there is no real “normal” when it comes to vaginal aesthetics.
While an elongated, enlarged or asymmetric labia is not unusual, it can certainly cause women to feel physical discomfort when exercising, or trigger feelings of self-doubt during intimate moments. By reducing the size of a woman’s labia minora, labiaplasty can empower women to feel more comfortable and confident in their own skin.
Making a consultation to discuss the shape and size of your labia minora can be nerve-wracking. “I do think that women are probably a little more likely to come to a woman for this procedure,” adds Gingrass.
What a Labiaplasty Will Do, and What it Won’t Do
The benefits of labiaplasty are not limited to women whose vaginas have been stretched or disfigured by childbirth. Many younger women in their late teens or early twenties who have not had any children are also unhappy with the appearance of their vaginas.
“Most often people want it fixed because of cosmetics. They feel self-conscious in bathing suits or in yoga pants. They feel like you can see a little wad of something down there,” explains Gingrass. “It can also be very uncomfortable, especially for someone who does a lot of biking or spin.”
One common misconception about labiaplasty is that it is vaginal tightening, or that undergoing labiaplasty will enable a woman to achieve a better orgasm. While a labiaplasty does not directly improve physical pleasure during sex, it can have an positive effect on sexual intimacy by boosting a woman’s self-esteem in the bedroom.
Labiaplasty Is Not:
- Vaginal tightening
- Pleasure enhancement
- Reduction in size of the inner lips (labia minora)
- Confidence boosting
- Helpful in improving discomfort during exercise
Surgery & Recovery
For a healthy patient, labiaplasty is a relatively safe operation with minimal risks. In most cases, labiaplasty can be safely done under local anesthesia. Avoiding the need to “go under” with general anesthesia greatly reduces the risks associated with cosmetic surgery, and is ideal for patients looking for a quick procedure.
When a patient first arrives for her labiaplasty, numbing cream is applied to the area. An oral sedative may also be given to help her relax. Once the patient is in the operating room, Dr. Gingrass injects local anesthetics into the labia minora. Most of the time patients don’t even feel this injection at all, as the area is already numb from the topical cream.
The procedure typically takes under an hour for Gingrass to complete. All of the stitches that are used during surgery will dissolve during recovery.
After surgery, patients are sent home with instructions to ice the area frequently for the first 48 hours. After a few days of taking it easy, most patients are back to work and normal activities. How soon a patient can return to sexual intercourse varies. On average, people are able to slowly and carefully resume sexual activity after four to six weeks.
Every patient heals differently. It is important to listen to your body as it heals and continue with follow-up visits, so that your plastic surgeon can monitor your healing process. “It’s a little uncomfortable, kind of stingy, burn-y, but it’s not sharp pain,” explains Dr. Gingrass. “It is a surprisingly easy recovery. Almost everyone says afterwards, ‘That was so much easier than I thought it was going to be.'”
A Rewarding Procedure
Whether you are suffering from physical discomfort during exercise or you find yourself avoiding tight-fitting clothing or intimate encounters, labiaplasty may be the solution you are looking for. “I really enjoy explaining what exactly a labiaplasty can do for patients,” concludes Gingrass. “People are very happy with this procedure.”