Vaginal reconstructive surgery, or labiaplasty, is becoming more and more popular as women everywhere with concerns regarding the shaping of their labia rush to specialists to see if they are a candidate for this technological breakthrough procedure.
Labiaplasty has become an effective way to address pain and discomfort caused by excessive skin, enlarged labia, and asymmetrical shaping of the vaginal area. It has also been used by many women with self-esteem issues regarding the overall aesthetics of their labia and vaginal area.
This surgery has been increasing in popularity throughout the world for many reasons. Increasing awareness and willingness to talk about the genital area and differences that may exist there, ever-changing technology resulting in easier and more accessible surgical tools, and the acceptance and preference of grooming have made the labiaplasty procedure a more common term.
What is Labiaplasty?
Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure that is performed with the ultimate goal of eliminating excess tissue from the labia minora, or inner lips, of the vagina. The intent is to ensure that skin does not protrude outside of the labia majora, which can cause discomfort, pain, and self-consciousness.
Many women hope to have a labiaplasty for purely cosmetic reasons, but the intent behind the surgery is to address multiple health concerns that have previously been considered unfixable. Women have dealt with pain and discomfort from labial issues for centuries. Recently, technology has made this a problem that is no longer something that has to be a chronic ailment.
A labiaplasty can be performed for aesthetic choices or medical reasons. Regardless of your reason for wanting to undergo the procedure, it is simply a matter of your own personal preference and your doctor’s agreement that vaginal reconstructive surgery is right for you.
Because of the controversial aspect of this surgery, many research studies have been done to prove that the benefits that well outweigh any risks. These studies have helped to determine the model characteristics of a woman undergoing a labiaplasty.
Who is a Candidate for a Labiaplasty?
A strong candidate for a labiaplasty must be in good health at the time of the procedure. Your physician will have you undergo a thorough health screening to assess your overall wellness and decide if you are physically capable of successfully undergoing the procedure.
To help determine if you are an ideal candidate for a labiaplasty procedure, consider whether or not you have the following health concerns:
Large labia: In addition to self-esteem concerns, women with an overly large labia are often in discomfort or pain in the vaginal area due to the protruding sensitive skin. Problems can occur with exercising, use of tampons, or wearing tight pants, and pain or discomfort can occur during intercourse. A labiaplasty can reduce the size or alter the shape of the labia, helping to alleviate the pain and discomfort that would otherwise exist daily.
The trouble with hygiene due to excess skin: Whether your excess skin is painful or not, sometimes it is so predominant that it is difficult to cleanse regularly and carefully. When your labia and vagina are not taken care of sufficiently, this can result in health risks like skin infections in the area, urinary tract infections, yeast infections, and other dangerous effects on your body.
Asymmetrical shaping: Some women have asymmetrical labia, which can cause them to be self-conscious of their body. It can also cause increased discomfort during exercise, bike riding, sexual intercourse, and other routines that apply pressure to the vaginal area but are considered to be regular day-to-day activities normal people engage in. This asymmetry can often be corrected with the surgical procedure of a labiaplasty.
What Does the Procedure Involve?
Patients who present to the gynecologist’s office without a significant reason for requesting vaginal reconstructive surgery will quite possibly be attempted to be dissuaded out of the procedure, as with any other surgery, due to the potential for complications that can occur any time the body is operated on.
There are different types of labiaplasty procedures, although they are all similar in design. Although the procedure itself is complicated, the process is generally fast and over relatively quickly. However, the recovery process is not quite as easy and can take from weeks to months.
When you are considering undergoing a labiaplasty, you need to understand each step of the way – from pre-operation through recovery and follow up care. Your physician will advise you in detail of these steps. It is up to you to listen carefully and follow each direction as it is given to you to ensure a safe and speedy recovery.
The surgery generally does not require a hospital stay, but it is suggested that you plan to take time off of work for one week, avoid exercise during this time, and keep any irritation from occurring to your labia, including the use of tampons and sexual intercourse. The longer your vaginal area is allowed to heal, the faster the recovery will be and the less chance of an irritation causing an issue that requires further medical care.
Most patients receive a syringe for water to cleanse the area after urination. You may also receive a pain medication prescription and an antibiotic or ointment to avoid the risk of infection.
You can expect to see swelling and distortion in the area following the procedure. This is generally resolved within six weeks but can take up to six months for any residual swelling.
Full recovery usually occurs after four to six weeks, at which time patients can resume having intercourse and wearing tampons.
These are general guidelines, as all recovery times and abilities are different depending on the individual. Speak to your doctor about detailed methods to help you heal and recover as quickly as possible.
What Does the Follow Up Involve?
Most doctors will require a follow up visit the day after your surgery to change any dressings and ensure there were no complications overnight. From there, you will need to return in one week to address the sutures, then in two weeks for an overall progress check. After that, you’re follow up visits will depend on your recovery process.
Types of Labiaplasty
There are three main techniques that are utilized for labiaplasty. Which one your doctor prefers will be discussed with you during your visit.
The trim technique is the procedure used in which the labia minora is clamped, then removed. The two sides are then sewn up. This makes it a fast procedure. This technique can result in a straight-line scar on the edge of the labia, which can be visible.
The wedge technique is when a “wedge,” a V-shaped excision, is removed from the center of the excess labia, keeping the natural edge of the labia. This technique can result in a horizontal scar across the labia.
The third technique is called the modified or extended wedge. This is an improvement on the wedge technique. It still takes a wedge from the inner labia skin, but it also takes a downward facing wedge on the outer labia, keeping the outer scar from going horizontally across the labia. With this method, the scar is located in the crease between the inner and outer labia vertically, making it nearly invisible once it is healed.
How Much Does It Cost?
As of 2017, the average cost that you could expect to pay for a labiaplasty was $2,984, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons statistics. Because it is considered to be cosmetic, insurance will not usually cover this procedure. If you and your doctor feel that your labial concerns are affecting your health and the procedure is necessary to avoid further health issues, have your physician contact your insurance company directly to determine what steps would be required to have them consider paying for your procedure.
Women Who Are Not a Good Candidate for Labiaplasty
There are health concerns that make this procedure risky or more complicated than it would normally be, and these issues are considered to make you an automatic unlikely candidate for the surgery.
If you are pregnant or if you smoke, if you have a sexually transmitted disease, or if you have surgical complications that make procedures more complicated for you, you are likely not a good candidate for a labiaplasty.
What Are the Risk of a Labiaplasty Surgery?
As mentioned above, the procedure itself is relatively streamlined and quick. The risks and complications involved are the same as though that are associated with the majority of surgical procedures. These risks can involve infection and excessive bleeding.
Some women note chronic dryness or scarring at or near the vaginal opening. These are effects that your physician is aware of and can discuss with you. Other women have noted painful intercourse, which also can be addressed with your physician.
Are You Ready to See if You Are a Candidate?
If you believe you are an ideal candidate for a labiaplasty, talk to your gynecologist to get his or her opinion and possibly a referral to a physician who specializes in labiaplasty procedures.
About The Author:
Stacey Smith is the freelance health writer. She is passionate to write about women’s health, dental health, diabetes, endocrinology and nutrition and provide in-depth features on the latest in health news for medical clinics and health magazines.