As you consider how labiaplasty surgery can change your appearance, improve your self-confidence and enhance your sexual experience, you will likely have questions about the procedure. This page lists common questions that women like you have asked.
What is labiaplasty?
The word is derived from two words: “labia” referring to a woman’s genital lips, and “plassein” meaning to shape. Labiaplasty is a procedure designed to reshape a woman’s genital lips. It can affect the labia majora (outer lips) and/or the labia minora (inner lips), although the inner lips are more commonly treated.
Why do women seek labiaplasty?
The decision is a very personal one, and each woman has her own reason for seeking this surgery. Reasons to get labiaplasty generally fall into two categories: functional and aesthetic.
A woman who feels her vulva is unattractive might turn to labiaplasty surgery. Inner lips that are too large is a common complaint. Although nothing medically states that a woman’s outer lips should hide her inner lips, some people believe this is the ideal. Pornographic photos and videos tend to perpetuate that notion. Sometimes large labia are visible through tight-fitting clothing such as bathing suits, and that makes a woman feel masculine or unfeminine. By contrast, some women feel that their outer labia are too small or droopy and want them to look fuller.
On a more functional level, some women seek to alter their labia because they feel that an excessively large set of outer lips contributes to hygiene problems, rashes and irritation. They also report discomfort during sex and certain activities such as exercising, walking long distances, sitting, cycling and horseback riding.
How do a woman’s inner lips get elongated anyway?
Pregnancy/childbirth, genetics and aging are the three most common factors that contribute to labial enlargement. Less common factors include body modification (such as piercing) and repeated trauma.
Can a labiaplasty help me if my lips are uneven?
Yes, labiaplasty can make a woman’s labia more symmetrical and even, and it is a common request.
How does a labiaplasty work?
The answer depends on the results you seek. For more detailed descriptions, read our labiaplasty techniques page and then consult with a labiaplasty surgeon. Very generally, labiaplasty works as follows:
- Augmentation involves injecting some sort of filler into the outer labia.
- Labia majora reduction involves using liposuction to remove fat and/or a laser or scalpel to excise portions of the labia.
- Labia minora reduction is done either by the trim method, which excises a “slice” from the tips of the labia, or the wedge method, which removes a chunk from the center of each outer labia.
What is the difference between labiaplasty and vaginoplasty?
Although the two terms are sometimes erroneously used interchangeably, labiaplasty and vaginoplasty are different procedures. One operates on the labia and the other on the vagina.
A vaginoplasty is designed to help women whose vaginas have been stretched through childbirth or other circumstances. It primarily aims at tightening the vagina to enhance a woman’s sexual enjoyment; secondarily, some physicians use the technique to assist with exertion incontinence (leaking urine when sneezing or exercising, for example). Because it deals with the vagina, which is entirely internal, a vaginoplasty will not change the appearance of the visible portion of a woman’s genitals.
Labiaplasty is designed to reshape a woman’s labia-the visible portion of a woman’s genitals-either to improve their appearance or function. It does not address vaginal slackness.
Designer vaginal rejuvenation is a term often used to refer to the combination of vaginoplasty and labiaplasty.
What’s the difference between a clitoral hood reduction and a labiaplasty?
A clitoral hood reduction aims at reducing the size of the clitoral prepuce (the hood-like covering of skin that surrounds the clitoris). Although this surgery is sometimes cosmetic, it is more common to increase a woman’s sexual sensitivity.
Labiaplasty and clitoral hood reductions are frequently combined. The surgeon will likely use the trim method of labiaplasty, as this allows both surgeries to be performed with a single incision.
What are some other types of female genital surgery?
In addition to labiaplasty, vaginoplasty and clitoral hood reduction, other female genital surgeries include hymenoplasty, mons pubis liposuction, perineoplasty, G-spot augmentation and laser resurfacing. Many of these can be performed at the same time as a labiaplasty. Learn more about these on our labiaplasty page.
How can I find a qualified surgeon for my labiaplasty?
Labiaplasty Guide has made finding a surgeon easy. Use our Surgeon Locator to find a qualified labiaplasty surgeon in your area.
Before you undergo any procedure, always look at the doctor’s credentials. Look at before-and-after photos and ask the doctor how many times he or she has performed this procedure. At your consultation, pay attention to how the doctor and his or her staff treat you. For more tips on finding the right surgeon, visit other areas of our site, including our labiaplasty surgery page.
How long does a labiaplasty take?
How long your labiaplasty lasts will depend on your surgeon and how complicated and involved your surgery is. Most labiaplasty surgeries take one to two hours.
How much does the labiaplasty procedure cost?
Most labiaplasty surgeries cost $3,000 to $9,000. The price depends on the surgeon, the technique, the complexity, the geographical location, and a host of other factors. For more information, visit our labiaplasty cost section.
Where will my labiaplasty be performed?
Your labiaplasty will most likely be performed at your doctor’s outpatient clinic, or at an outpatient hospital or surgical center.
How long will I have to stay at a hospital?
Because labiaplasty is an outpatient procedure, you will return home the day of the surgery. You will probably wait an hour or two after your procedure before returning home. You will need to have someone drive you home, and you should arrange for someone to help you for a day or two.
Do I need to see a gynecologist before my labiaplasty?
If the surgery is performed by a board-certified gynecologist, an additional visit to a gynecologist is unnecessary. However, if the surgery is performed by a plastic surgeon, then it is recommended to see a gynecologist for an examination and updated PAP smear.
What anesthesia will be used during my labiaplasty?
The anesthesia will depend on your surgeon’s preferences (and possibly yours). It could range from local anesthesia through general anesthesia. Sedation and anti-anxiety medication are possibilities. You can find out more about your anesthesia options at your consultation.
Will I feel pain during my labiaplasty?
No. Regardless of which anesthesia is used, the surgeon will numb the area with a local anesthetic to ensure you have no sensations during your surgery.
Will the doctor prescribe pain medication after my labiaplasty?
Your doctor will probably prescribe a painkiller. Many patients need prescription-strength pain relievers for a only few days.
Will I have scars?
Scarring will depend on which technique your doctor uses his or her skill. Generally, any time a surgical incision is made, some amount of scarring takes place. Your doctor will most likely keep the incision hidden by placing it in the natural lines and valleys of your genital region. What scarring does develop will fade with time and become gradually less and less noticeable.
How old do I have to be to get a labiaplasty?
Labiaplasty is typically a surgery that is carried out on adults. Parental permission is required for all minors. Although adolescence can be a time of intense embarrassment regarding our bodies and especially our genitals, remember that the body is still developing. If a girl develops large or uneven labia, it is possible that in time she will “grow into them” or they will even out.
Surgically altering the labia during puberty could have an effect on the way the labia grow and develop. Asymmetry corrected while the labia are still developing could lead to different asymmetry down the road.
Once tissue is taken away, it will not grow back. A girl should wait until she is fully developed and removed from the angst of adolescence before making a decision of this importance.
In cases where there has been damage to the labia and reparative surgery is required, that is, of course, a different scenario.
How long do I have to wait after giving birth to have a labiaplasty?
You will need to wait at least one year after you give birth before you can undergo a labiaplasty. This will give your body and your labia a chance to heal.
How soon after my labiaplasty will I be able to return to work?
Many women return to sedentary work within about a week. If your job is more active or requires exertion, you might have to wait longer.
How long will it take before I can return to exercising, swimming and having sex?
The exact time will depend on your health and on your surgeon’s preferences. Most surgeons advise waiting three to six weeks to begin exercising, swimming, having sex and performing strenuous activities.
Will the labiaplasty affect my sexual sensitivity?
It’s hard to say exactly what will happen. Most surgeries are performed successfully without harming a woman’s sensitivity. Some women claim that their sexual sensitivity has been reduced by their labiaplasty. On the other hand, a number of women state that their sexual sensitivity has increased and sex is more enjoyable after labiaplasty.
Some argue that the clitoris is the main source of sexual sensitivity, not the labia, and because clitoris is untouched by this procedure, sexual sensitivity is unaffected. Likewise, if a woman’s labia minora are large enough to impede access to the clitoris, removing some of it might increase sexual sensation. However, all agree that if the procedure is poorly performed, drastic repercussions are inevitable.
For the best information on this important subject, speak with your surgeon.
Will I be able to have children after labiaplasty?
Yes, a labiaplasty will not impede your ability to have children. The process does not in any way affect the womb or ovaries, and it doesn’t close off or tighten the vagina.
Is it better to perform labiaplasty with lasers?
Some experts say lasers are better because they reduce tissue trauma, make smooth incisions and control bleeding. Critics of laser technology say using traditional tools provide a more natural appearance, especially if the surgeon is going to recreate the ruffled look of the natural inner labia.
Your labiaplasty surgeon’s skill matters more than which tools he or she uses.
Should I prefer the trim method or the wedge method?
The trim and wedge methods are techniques that are used to reduce the size of the inner labia. Each has its share of fans among surgeons. Some say that wedge technique provides a more natural appearance; some say that labiaplasty performed with the wedge technique is more likely to separate.
Which labiaplasty technique your surgeon uses will depend on your circumstances and goals. Each surgery is suited for certain situations. Sometimes either surgery will do, provided that the surgeon performing the labiaplasty is sufficiently skilled.
Will my insurance pay for labiaplasty?
In most cases, no. Labiaplasty is typically considered an elective cosmetic procedure, and most insurance companies do not cover it. However, if you are getting the labiaplasty surgery for functional and medical reasons, your insurance might help. Check with the insurance company before the procedure.
Will I feel better about my vulva, my sexuality and myself after my labiaplasty?
Women who undergo labiaplasty surgery generally feel more comfortable with their appearances and sexuality after their procedures. For them, the surgery frees them from embarrassment and discomfort.
Women who have deep-seated issues with sexuality and self-image-that go beyond physical reality-won’t find solace in cosmetic surgery. One example is body dysmorphic disorder, a psychological disorder in which people become increasingly concerned and preoccupied by perceived physical defects. This preoccupation can lead to irrational and dangerous behavior, and it not typically solved through surgery. For some people, changes in the physical body aren’t sufficient, because the root of their dissatisfaction is in the mind. People in this category might need to seek counseling.
Labiaplasty is not a magic solution. It is a surgery that can be very good at relieving genital pain and improving the appearance of a woman’s genitals. However, believing that it can completely turn a life around is a mistake.
I just think my vulva is so ugly. I can’t imagine showing it to anyone, even to a doctor! What if the surgeon makes fun of it?
First of all, your labiaplasty surgeon will be professional and respectful at all times during your examination.
The labiaplasty surgeon will be candid with you about what surgery could do to change the appearance of your labia, but there will be nothing of mockery or disrespect in this. The right labiaplasty surgeon should offer you the respect and the courtesy that you deserve.
Secondly, the surgeon you see specializes in examining and operating on women who consider their labia unattractive or problematic. He or she will have seen examples of every conceivable complaint that you could have about your vulva, and chances are, he or she will have seen examples that are much more pronounced than yours.
Thirdly, take a deep breath. You are probably more normal than you realize. Female genitalia have more naturally occurring variation than many people realize or appreciate.
Labiaplasty: Things To Keep In Mind
Remember: No two patients are the same. You will not necessarily have the exact result that a friend has had.
Also remember that the labiaplasty surgery probably will not deliver 100% perfect appearance. Eliminating all traces of asymmetry or removing a perceived imperfection is not always possible. If you look closely at your labia, you will discover all sorts of minor differences between one side and the other, just as you would comparing your right hand to your left. Slight asymmetries are organic and natural. Sometimes, minor imperfections add to the charm!
A successful surgery is one that gives you an improved appearance. If you do not hope for the impossible, you stand a much better chance of being happy with your results. Furthermore, if you’re willing to allow for minor imperfections, you might increase the chances of a successful and beautiful surgery. Sometimes cosmetic surgeries fail because the patient insists on biting off more than she can chew and altering too many things.
Labiaplasty: Is It Right for You?
Labiaplasty can help you feel more comfortable in your own skin, especially when you thought that could never happen! It cannot solve relationship problems or deep-seated emotional problems.
The best way to know if labiaplasty is right for you is to schedule a consultation with a specialist. Visit other sections of our website and learn about the procedure. Then schedule a consultation with a surgeon.