We live in an era of significantly less pubic hair and tighter clothes. Yoga pants are no longer just for working out – they are a fashion choice for many busy moms. They also don’t leave much to the imagination, which is one of the many reasons why more and more women are coming in to see a plastic surgeon because they do not like the appearance ‘down there.’ A labiaplasty is a surgical procedure to reduce the size of the labia minora, effectively correcting aesthetic and physical ailments.
As a long distance runner, board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Anureet Bajaj of Oklahoma City understands how uncomfortable it can be when the labia minora limit functional performance of activities. She loves performing a labiaplasty on patients because it’s a simple procedure that packs a powerful punch, in terms of both comfort and self-esteem.
What is a Labiaplasty?
A labiaplasty is a surgical procedure that reduces the size of the labia minora, the inner lips of the vagina. The labia, both inner and outer, are part of the vulva. Its job is to protect the vaginal opening, urinary opening and clitoris.
Some women are born with inner labia than extend beyond the outer labia. While for others, the skin and tissue can stretch due to:
- weight gain/loss
Do You Need a Labiaplasty?
“Some women want a labiaplasty just because they don’t like the way the labia looks,” explains Dr. Bajaj. In today’s day and age, women groom their bikini area much more severely than they did even a decade ago. For many, pubic hair has become the enemy. Furthermore, women wear much tighter-fitting clothes, such as skinny jeans and yoga pants. This 1-2 punch can create a problem if you have prominent labia because they can show through your clothes. Dr. Bajaj has had patients who are mothers describe situations where they have taken the kids to the pool or the beach only to discover when they get there that their labia protrudes out of their swimsuit. This situation is not only embarrassing, but it may also prevent these patients from wearing certain clothes. And no woman likes to be limited in her fashion choices.
For other patients, having inner labia that extend beyond or hang below the outer labia can be physically uncomfortable. This is especially true for athletes. If you ride a bike or are a long distance runner, long labia minora can rub or chafe. It hurts. A labiaplasty is a fairly simple way to improve both the comfort and aesthetics of your vulva permanently.
How the Procedure Works
A labiaplasty procedure takes about 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on what exactly is involved. “I usually perform my procedures under general anesthetic because it’s more comfortable for my patients,” explains Dr. Bajaj. This is a sensitive area, both literally and emotionally. Many patients simply prefer to be asleep during the procedure. Dr. Bajaj performs her labiaplasty procedures in an operating room. The surgery involves either trimming the outside of the labia, the trim technique, or else taking out a wedge of skin, the wedge technique, in order to make the inner labia smaller.
Depending on the patient’s goals, Dr. Bajaj will sometimes combine a labiaplasty with another procedure, such as decreasing the size of the labia majora and/or reducing the size of the clitoral hood to improve the aesthetics. Once the labia are the appropriate size and shape, Dr. Bajaj closes the incisions with dissolvable sutures. This is important as patients do not relish the idea of coming back to the office to have the sutures removed.
“I always tell my patients to bring some Granny panties or their period panties so they can have some comfortable underwear,” says Dr. Bajaj. You will get easy to use ice packs and will need to ice the area for 24 – 48 hours pretty regularly. After that, patients can start moving around a little bit more.
Most woman can go back to work within 3-5 days. You are going to want to wait a little bit longer before you do anything where you are on your feet a lot. And you do not want to do things like bike, ride a horse, or have sex for about 6 weeks.
Patients tend to be thrilled with the end result. They no longer need to be in pain or feel self-conscious in clothes. “As a woman, and a woman who has experienced this same problem, I understand what you are going through. I’ve lived it!” shares Dr. Bajaj. “I think that translates into how I talk to my patients. It’s not something to be embarrassed about. It’s not something to be shy about”. This is a surgery that will improve your life, so do not be afraid.