Labiaplasty can be performed on the inner lips, outer lips or both inner and outer lips for aesthetic or symptomatic reasons. Labiaplasty surgeries are becoming increasingly popular among women who seek qualified specialists and surgeons to correct, augment, reconstruct and aesthetically improve physical issues and deformities of the female genitalia, which can be amended and altered through various labiaplasty procedures. Many women claim these procedures have a life-altering impact, after surgery, and that they experience greater confidence and satisfaction with their sexuality as a result.
Familiarizing yourself with the terminologies associated with labiaplasty may help you understand and communicate with your surgeon. This may also help you discern the differences between vaginal rejuvenation procedures and labiaplasty. Here is a glossary of medical terms to help you.
This section describes medical terminologies and provides descriptions of various labiaplasty techniques related to women’s genital surgery to guide you and help you research the proper procedure for your situation.
Glossary of Terms
In order to understand what labiaplasty is, it might help to understand terminologies theypertain to the procedure and a woman’s genitalia.
- Clitoral hood reduction: Also known as hoodectomy, it removes excess skin from the area, which increases clitoral sensitivity; it can be combined with labiaplasty
- Clitoris: Located near the top of the labia; it is not altered during labiaplasty
- Labia minora: inner lips
- Labia majora: outer, hair-bearing lips
- Labiaplasty: Surgical alteration only to the labia minora and/or labia majora
- Vagina: Many people erroneously use the word vagina to refer to everything between a woman’s legs. It is an internal structure leading from the uterus (womb) to the outside of the body. Labiaplasty does not alter the size, shape or function of the vagina
- Vaginoplasty: Elective surgery that increases the sensitivity and restores the tightness of the vagina; sometimes can be performed with labiaplasty
- Vulva: The external, visible part of a woman’s genitalia comprised of the clitoris and the external and interior lips (labia majora and labia minora)
Several techniques are available for labiaplasty patients. Each technique helps correct and restore different issues and features of the labia and female genitalia. They are:
- Reduction of labia majora
- Reduction labiaplasty
- Laser reduction labiaplasty
- Augmentation labiaplasty
- Trim method
- Wedge method
Labiaplasty of the inner and outer lips
Labiaplasty falls into three broad categories: labia minora reduction, labia majora reduction and labia majora augmentation. Learn more about what each procedure entails.
Labia minora reduction: In some cultures, elongated inner lips are accepted and revered, but in the United States and many Western cultures, many people prefer the inner lips to be smaller and shorter than the outer set of lips. A labia minora reduction reduces the size of these inner lips, and it is one of the most prevalent types of labiaplasty.During reduction of the labia minora, the surgeon removes sections of the inner lips. The surgeon can use special techniques to help recreate a natural-looking rugation (or the ruffled and uneven labial edges).
Labia majora reduction: This technique involves liposculpture and liposuction to reduce the fat on the larger, outer genital lips, which makes them look more natural.
Labia majora augmentation: Unlike the previous techniques discussed, this technique aims atincreasingthe size of the labia. Augmentation labiaplasty is typically used to enhance the appearance of the labia majora. It can be used to treat abnormally small or sagging labia.
Labiaplasty Surgery Step-by-Step
Before labiaplasty: Pre-operative instructions vary from physician to physician, but generally, you might be asked to:
- Abstain from smoking and drinking alcohol
- Stop taking medications and supplements that could interfere with surgery or the recovery process
- Refrain from sexual intercourse a day or two before surgery
- Fill prescriptions for post-operative painkillers and other medication so you have them ready when you return home from surgery
- Not eat 12 hours prior to surgery
Day of labiaplasty: On the day of your surgery, you will go to the doctor’s office or an outpatient surgery center; labiaplasty is an outpatient procedure, and an overnight stay at a hospital or surgical facility is not required. All patients are required to have a designated driver to help them get to and from the surgery.
You will be taken to a pre-surgical area where you will be prepped for surgery. You will likely meet with the anesthesiologist and your surgeon to go over any last minute questions or details regarding the procedure. A nurse will shave the area before surgery; do not shave at home as this increases your risk for infection.
When you are fully numbed or asleep, the surgeon will begin the procedure. The duration of the surgery depends on how much work will be done and whether labiaplasty will be performed in conjunction with another procedure, using one or a combination of techniques.
Your surgeon will do his or her best to hide the incisions in the natural lines and creases of your tissues. Mucous membranes in the labia minora tend to heal well (much like the mouth, which also tends not to scar).
Once, he or she is finished, the surgeon will suture any incisions using dissolvable stitches, dress the area and send you to recovery.
After labiaplasty: Before you are sent home, you will need to be fully awake and you will have to have a designated driver. The staff will give you post-operative instructions and details on medications, bathing and special care for the surgical site. They will let you know when you should see your surgeon for a post-op check up. You will need someone to drive you home from the surgery center, and you might need help at home for a few days, especially if you have young children. The first time you see your newly changed vulva, it might not look picture perfect at first, and there may be some swelling and bruising of your genital region, and some amount of discharge is likely, but it will improve and look more normal over time. The swelling and bruising will go down within a week or two.
Risks and Side Effects of Labiaplasty
Risks: Some of the risks associated with labiaplasty include changes in sensation, changes in pigmentation and labial asymmetry. Each technique has its own benefits and drawbacks, although the risks of each are few and minor. Labiaplasty is not a major surgery, but if signs of infection, fever or abnormal reactions occur, then you will need to contact your surgeon or go to a hospital for tests and treatment.
Side Effects: It is common to experience pain, temporary bruising, numbness and swelling. A temporary tingling sensation is also common. If you experience a lot of bleeding, have a discharge with an offensive odor, experience increased labial or vulval swelling, or register a fever, contact your surgeon. If you suspect that you are having a true medical emergency, call 911 immediately.