The Surgeon Minute

Labiaplasty is No Longer “Hush, Hush”

Labiaplasty is No Longer “Hush, Hush”

Labiaplasty is a surgery that enhances the appearance of a woman’s labia, but it isn’t just about aesthetics. Although this increasingly popular procedure is considered cosmetic, it also has the ability to improve a patient’s quality of life.

In general, labiaplasty patients suffer from extra tissue that hang below or protrude past the outer labia, which can cause the skin to become irritated, dry and unsightly. This may  lead to a myriad of issues such as pain and discomfort during exercise, sex, or when wearing tight clothing like yoga pants. Furthermore, excess labia tissue can make a patient feel embarrassed and self-conscious – particularly when naked.

Dr. Charles Messa of Weston, FL discusses the game-changing procedure as well as why he is seeing so many younger labiaplasty patients.

Labiaplasty is on the Rise

Although the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) did not start to report statistics on labiaplasty until 2015, there was a 39% increase in the number of these procedures performed the following year. This is a trend that Dr. Messa has certainly seen reflected in his own practice, and the reason is simple.

What used to be a “hush, hush” area of the body that no one discussed has thankfully come out of the closet. Women today have no problem talking about issues regarding the look, function and/or feel of their genitalia. This is partly due to the fact that patients are more familiar with the area, thanks to:

  • the rise in popularity of the “brazilian” bikini wax, which removes all of a woman’s pubic hair.
  • the fact that many women spend most of their daylight hours in tight fitting yoga pants or skinny jeans.

This awareness has led to more openness, which has led to more patients seeking help if things don’t look or feel right.

Are You a Candidate for a Labiaplasty?

Most patients come in for a labiaplasty consultation because they are uncomfortable either with the look, feel or function of their vagina. “When we talk about labiaplasty, what we are really talking about is a cosmetic enhancement of the external female genitalia, particularly the labia minora, which is the inner part of the labia,” explains Dr. Messa.

This excess tissue can: 

  • look unsightly, because when the inner labia are exposed, they can become dry, irritated and change color
  • it can be uncomfortable to wear tight fitting pants
  • make exercise difficult, especially something like spinning
  • intercourse may become painful

For some women, these symptoms develop over time. However, many women are genetically inclined to excess tissue.

Labiaplasty and Younger Patients

“I’ve seen an increasing number of young patients – teenagers – who are very concerned about this,” shares Dr. Messa. These women have not yet experienced any trauma to this area such as childbirth, hormonal changes (menopause), and the wear and tear of aging. All of these can and do put stress on the skin and tissues of the labia.

Instead, teenagers with concerns are born with a genetic condition that results in extra tissue in this area. For young girls, this can be devastatingly embarrassing. Teenagers are already so self-conscious about their looks and fitting in that having a “camel toe” while wearing trendy, form fitting jeans can be horrifying. For them, a labiaplasty is a game-changer. 

The Labiaplasty Procedure

The procedure itself can be performed a couple of different ways:

  • trim method
  • wedge method
  • liposuction

The trim method is the most common technique for reducing the size of your inner labia. The plastic surgeon will surgically remove the excess skin and tissue in order to make your labia more proportional. With the wedge method, only a V shaped wedge of tissue is removed from the inner labia, while liposuction is best for addressing excess fat in the outer labia.

All of these techniques can be done under local anesthesia, or with an IV sedation depending on your comfort level. The whole operation takes about 45 minutes to an hour. 

Labiaplasty Recovery

“I like the patient to take it easy for 24 to 48 hours at home, icing frequently,” explains Dr. Messa. After this, patients can return to normal activities – except for sexual intercourse. He advises his patients to wait to have sex for about 4-6 weeks. While patients can resume most forms of exercise after 1-2 weeks, Dr. Messa likes his labiaplasty patients to wait a month before doing something like spinning where they are putting direct pressure on the area.

The great thing about a labiaplasty is that it is a fairly simple surgical procedure with reasonable downtime that has a huge pay off for the patient. Not only will it eradicate any physical discomfort and/or functional problems, but your genitalia will also look aesthetically more pleasing. Looking better and feeling better is the perfect combination for improving a patient’s self-confidence, both in clothes and out of them. 

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