Women are very much aware of their looks and their bodies, and one aspect of their body they may wish to improve upon is the appearance of their external genitalia.
The anatomy of the female genital area includes paired labia minora which are adjacent to the vaginal introitus, paired labia majora adjacent to these towards the inner thigh, and the clitoris with its skin covering at the apex of the labia.
Adult women and adolescent girls may have any number of labial conditions for which they seek labiaplasty. Congenital issues which are evident after puberty include asymmetry, where the labia are different sizes and protrude to different degrees, and hypertrophy, where the labia may be thickened or excessive in length. Acquired problems which occur later in life may also involve labial enlargement, as well as loss of volume and flattening of the labia majora.
Enlargement and protrusion of the labia minora, the smaller external skin lips on either side of the vagina, may cause pain, irritation and embarrassment, produce discomfort when wearing certain clothing items, and interfere with sports activities such as horseback riding and cycling, as well as sexual intercourse. This condition may be genetic, or may become more pronounced from a number of conditions, such as after childbirth, due to hormonal changes or aging. Colloquially referred to as “butterfly wings”, the labia minora may become thickened or pendulous, or there may be asymmetry between the two sides. The degree of enlargement is variable, and it may involve the entire length of the labia or be limited to only a shorter segment. In some women, the tissue overlying the clitoris, called the clitoral hood, may also become enlarged or excessive. For these patients, clitoral hood reduction can be performed concurrently with labiaplasty in order to produce a more harmonious appearance and contour to all anatomical parts in the area.
Labiaplasty is a procedure which can both improve the appearance of the labia as well as reduce the symptoms associated with enlarged labia and provide better symmetry. Deciding on the most appropriate option for female genital cosmetic surgery requires open communication between patient and surgeon so that the desired result is achieved. The procedure may also be combined with correction of excessive clitoral hooding or vaginal rejuvenation, depending on the patient’s wishes.
There are a number of different surgical options available for improvement of the appearance of the labia:
- labiaplasty with reduction, bilateral or unilateral, to correct asymmetry of the labia minora or labia majora
- clitoral hood reduction in addition to reduction and reshaping of the labia minora
- labiaplasty of the labia minora with liposuction of the labia majora
- fat injections of the labia majora or use of fillers to improve contour and correct thinning of the tissues
Dr. Hutchinson performs labiaplasty in the privacy and safety of her AAAASF certified Operating Room on Manhattan’s Upper East Side in NYC. Most often labiaplasty surgery is done under local anaesthesia with intravenous sedation in order to maximize patient comfort. Some degree of swelling is normal after surgery, and bruising may occur as well. Recovery requires several days, and possibly a couple of weeks before swelling resolves. Avoiding friction and prolonged pressure on the area will help prevent possible wound healing issues. More rigorous exercise and sexual activity may be resumed after several weeks once discomfort has subsided.
Choosing a plastic surgeon who is experienced in performing all types of labiaplasty surgery and can address your particular concerns is extremely important prior to undergoing any procedure. Many women choose to combine labiaplasty with other aesthetic surgery procedures such as breast augmentation, liposuction or tummy tuck, or as part of an overall mommy makeover.
The Labiaplasty Patient’s Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Am I a good candidate for labiaplasty?
A: Women may benefit from labiaplasty if they have any of the following concerns:
- excessively long or thickened labia minora
- asymmetry between the labia minora with one larger, longer, or differently shaped than the other
- symptoms and complaints attributable to enlarged labia minora such as:
- embarassment from visible bulging when wearing tight clothing, bathing suits, or underwear
- discomfort during exercise and physical activities such as cycling, horseback riding, or sexual intercourse
- rashes or skin breakdown from friction and rubbing of the labia
- flattened, misshapen, or hanging labia majora
- contour irregularity from prior surgery or excisions on the labia
Q: What should I expect during my labiaplasty consultation?
A: Your initial consultation with Dr. Hutchinson includes the following:
- a comprehensive in-person discussion with Dr. Hutchinson when she will obtain your medical history and you will have time to explain what bothers you about your labia and what results you hope to achieve with surgery
- after your conversation, you will be seen in a private examination room where she will perform a detailed physical examination and assess your unique physical characteristics
- she will also take medical photographs which provide additional information when discussing your surgery
- following your examination, Dr. Hutchinson will explain surgical options, determine the best customized surgical plan for you to achieve your goals, and review your medical photographs with you
- Dr. Hutchinson will also provide you with specific details regarding the bespoke operation she creates for you as each patient’s plan is based on individual features and desired outcome
- she will also inform you of what is required from you before and after your surgery to ensure a successful operation and smooth recovery
- you will be given ample time to ask any questions you have in order to feel comfortable with your decision
- you will also have an opportunity to schedule your surgery once you have decided to proceed
Q: How will everything look after my labiaplasty surgery?
A: Labiaplasty is a plastic surgery procedure that aims to improve the appearance of a woman’s labia, and the procedure must be individualized to each patient’s unique physical features and goals. To help you better understand what results you can achieve with labiaplasty, Dr. Hutchinson will discuss with you specific details of your current physical characteristics. Factors that may impact your results include the following:
- amount of excess tissue to be removed from labia minora
- quality and bulkiness of the labial tissues
- degree of asymmetry between the labia minora
- concurrent issues such as excess clitoral hooding and appearance of labia majora
- prior surgery or scarring of the labia or genital area
Q: How should I prepare for my labiaplasty surgery?
A: Dr. Hutchinson provides her patients with detailed and precise instructions to be followed prior to surgery, which include the following:
- Dr. Hutchinson will make recommendations for each patient including:
- skin preparation of the area including timing of depilation
- requirements for medical clearance and bloodwork prior to surgery
- patients should be active participants in optimizing their wellness, including:
- maintaining a healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition
- avoiding smoking
- not taking medications that can increase risk of complications
Q: What should I expect after my labiaplasty surgery?
A: Every patient will have their own personal experience and recovery after labiaplasty, although some common aspects of their post-operative course include the following:
- results are immediately noticeable and changes are longlasting
- some discomfort, swelling, and bruising are normal in the first few days after surgery
- it is essential you refrain from strenuous physical activity after surgery and closely follow the detailed instructions provided by Dr. Hutchinson
- final results depend on your body healing and will be evident after several weeks