The Surgeon Minute

Taking the Taboo Out of Labiaplasty

Taking the Taboo Out of Labiaplasty

Labiaplasty surgery is finally coming out of the closet. According to the latest statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), there has been a 39% uptick in the number of labiaplasty procedures performed in this country. While some patients are born with labia that are uneven in size, the main reason that women seek surgery is because the inner lips of the labia hang below the outer lips.

Cosmetically, many women find this unattractive and thus damaging to their self-esteem. Functionally, it can cause a myriad of issues, including irritation and an increased risk of injection. Dr. Kristi Hustak of Houston has made it her mission to take away the taboo surrounding this simple and likely life-altering procedure.

Labiaplasty & Self-Esteem

It doesn’t really matter whether a woman seeks a labiaplasty for cosmetic or functional reasons; it’s known that there is a connection between a woman’s genital appearance, sexual satisfaction and self-esteem. If a patient perceives that there is a problem with her labia, even if there isn’t anything functionally wrong, “that can have a huge impact on their whole life and self-esteem,” explains Dr. Hustak.

This is why she always welcomes the conversation. She loves when a woman comes in for a labiaplasty consultation asking, ‘Is this normal?’. Usually, everything looks fine down below, but the more that women talk about this, the better. No one should have to suffer in silence due to embarrassment.

Labia Length – What is Normal?

Dr. Hustak may wind up turning away more labiaplasty surgeries than she performs. Most patients just need reassurance that everything is normal, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t patients with problematic labia.  “There is absolutely a difference between cosmetic and functional labiaplasty as far as length of the labia,” explains Dr. Hustak.

Labiaplasty results - Dr. Hustak.

However, nothing is standardized south of the pubic bone. She may have a patient whose labia length falls within what she would consider the “normal” range. Yet, that patient’s inner lips still hang past their outer lips. This is because they were simply born with smaller outer lips. So even though the absolute number is “normal,” it’s still aesthetically displeasing, and could be functionally problematic.

Labiaplasty Can Correct Functional Issues

The number one reason that patients come in to discuss a labiaplasty is because their inner lips hang below their outer lips. This can create a myriad of functional issues based on  uncomfortable friction, such as:

  • yoga pants
  • when wearing tight jeans
  • while exercising

“If you are out of balance down there,” explains Dr. Hustak, “things can rub.” Furthermore, this imbalance in the labia lips can also cause:

  • frequent infections
  • PH imbalance
  • moisture issues

Labiaplasty – Still Taboo, For Now

Unlike breast augmentation, labiaplasty is a topic that is “still a little bit taboo,” says Dr. Hustak. In fact, there is a large subset of people that consider any intervention down below as “genital mutilation.” But there are some young girls that are born with congenital asymmetry where one side of the labia is significantly longer than the other. This can be traumatizing both emotionally and physically. Although Dr. Hustak typically won’t treat a girl younger than 16, she has had a patient as young as 14. Why should any woman suffer with labia that are completely out of balance, causing physical and emotional harm, when a labiaplasty can make them even again?

Labiaplasty patient - Dr. Hustak.

The inner lips of the labia are somewhat analogous to the penile shaft. If the patient had been born a man, and had a big penis, “it would be a badge of honor,” says Dr. Hustak. But if she were born a woman with this symptom, it’s upsetting. Furthermore, this isn’t something that the patient can change on her own through diet, exercise or skin care.

Simple Surgery, Big Result

Dr. Hustak works to help patients understand their options and to demystify the labiaplasty procedure. It’s actually a fairly simple surgical procedure that can completely change a patient’s life. The surgeon trims the length of the labia to make them more aesthetically-pleasing and eradicate any functional issues. Like any surgical procedure on the face or body, labiaplasty “is very individualized,” explains Hustak. It’s performed in the office under local anesthesia, and only takes about an hour.

Most patients have it done and then go about their day. They may have around two days of downtime, but the entire recovery just takes about 6 weeks. There are some things that you won’t be able to do for awhile, such as run a marathon or compete in equestrian. Even so, a labiaplasty is a permanent solution that can truly make a woman’s whole life better..

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