Labiaplasty: What is it Good For?

Have you heard of labiaplasty? Not everybody has. The labia are the external folds of skin that surround the vulva, the skin that covers the clitoris and vaginal opening. Labiaplasty is a cosmetic surgical procedure to make the labia—either the labia majora or labia minora (or both)—smaller, although sometimes it’s done to create labia where there were none, ie, to correct a birth defect.

Why is a labiaplasty performed?

The most common reason a labiaplasty is performed is to reduce the length of the labia minora – the smaller skin fold surrounding the vagina.  When standing, the labia minora is typically the same length or smaller than the larger labia majora.  This is typically due to good old genetics, but childbirth can damage the labium (plural of labia), which explains why, here at our Shreveport, LA, plastic surgery office, a Mommy Makeover procedure sometimes includes a labiaplasty.

Aging and weight gain/loss cycles can also make the labium lack an attractive fullness, resulting in sagging. However, most labiaplasty procedures are performed for women who have overly long labium, labium that are misshapen, or labia that are mismatched, i.e., one is longer than the other. Things that you and I take for granted, such as wearing tight jeans or stretchy workout clothing, riding a bike, horseback riding and similar activities are embarrassing and/or painful for women with very long labium. These women are often self-conscious during intimate relationships and find it difficult to enjoy sex because they think they look abnormal and because intercourse can be painful for them. Naturally, their discomfort makes it more difficult for their partner to enjoy the experience, as well.

How is a labiaplasty performed?

Labiaplasty is an outpatient procedure. It can be performed under local anesthesia, IV sedation or general anesthesia. When it’s done along with other cosmetic procedures, it’s performed under general anesthesia. The decision about anesthesia is discussed during a woman’s private consultation in our plastic surgery office in Shreveport. Some women are comfortable with local anesthesia while others wouldn’t consider anything less than general anesthesia. My goal is to make the procedure as comfortable as possible for each particular woman.

What’s the recovery time from a labiaplasty?

Most of my labiaplasty patients feel comfortable going back to work or school in three days. The area will look immediately better, but swelling may take a full 6 weeks to go away.  You cannot have intercourse, exercise, or swim for 6 weeks as this tissue is very fragile.

Is there a non-surgical option?

Yes. At The Wall Center, we offer a treatment called ThermiVa™. During this comfortable treatment, your provider uses a sterile, single-use handpiece shaped like a wand to direct gentle warmth to the vulvar and vaginal tissues. This warmth is created by radiofrequency energy, which causes the tissue to contract and tighten, reducing the effects of atrophy. For many women, ThermiVa is a solution to “looseness,” occasional urinary incontinence, diminished sexual gratification, and other concerns related to aging or childbirth. Many patients find a single treatment provides the results they want, and others benefit more from a series of treatments. In some cases, a traditional labiaplasty may be the better option. You’ll learn more about your own case during your consultation.

I’ve heard that labiaplasty can be performed with lasers. Do you use a laser?

Laser vaginal rejuvenation is an entirely different procedure and is banned in many countries.  Using a laser on fragile vaginal tissue in the hopes of making the vagina tighter, causes a burn, and can cause serious injury and pain with intercourse. Laser vaginal rejuvenation is not condoned by the ACOG (the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists).

If you have concerns about the “look” of your labium, are having discomfort wearing slacks or participating in certain activities, schedule an appointment with me for a private consultation. It may be quite easy to take care of, but without an exam, you won’t know.

To your health & wellness,

Dr. Holly Casey Wall


2 Responses

  • Jennifer Simpson says:

    Dr. Wall,
    My daughter Kameron, is really interested in having labiaplasty performed. I wanted to see if you do that procedure and if so she would like to schedule a consultation. She would be available any time during the week.

    Thanks, Jennifer Simpson

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