A labiaplasty is surgery to reduce the size of the labia minora – the flaps of skin either side of the vaginal opening.
It is not be done on ladies younger than 18 because the labia continues to develop beyond puberty into early adulthood.
frequently women want a labiaplasty because they do not like the look of their labia or they have labia that extend below the labia major and cause physical discomfort.
What can a Labiaplasty achieve?
The labia minora are the inner lips of the vagina and the labia majora are the outer lips. It is natural that they come in all shapes and sizes. Some women may be born with a large labia. However, the labia may also increase in size during life. This may be due to childbirth, ageing or the effect of hormones.
Whilst having long or many folds of the labia minora is perfectly normal, some women are unhappy with the way this looks. Some women may also feel self-conscious when their labia peeks through their underwear or swimsuit. Furthermore, women who have an enlarged or elongated labia may feel some discomfort or pain. This may occur when they wear certain clothing such as yoga bottoms, during exercise or sex. This technique improves the aesthetic look of the labia by correcting the size and shape. Surgery can achieve this is through the removal of excess tissue from the inner lips. Therefore, the reduction in the size resolves any tugging or twisting that some women struggle with.
In addition, the goal of the surgery is to reduce the extent that the inner lips hang down below the level of the hairy outer lips. It can also be an option for women where one side is longer than the other and want this asymmetry corrected.
The labia minor have a main fold that usually has fullness to the central part that ladies wish to have reduced. there is also frequently an extra piece of labia going forward towards the mons. This is called the lateral labial fold. This area is excised as well.
Labiaplasty risks and complications
What are the main risks of a labiaplasty?
Before you decide to go ahead with labiaplasty surgery, it is important that you are aware of the potential risks and complications. Because of this, after your initial meeting, you will need a two-week cooling off period.
This is your time to consider if surgery is something you really want to go ahead with. The potential labiaplasty risks are very small. But, if they were to affect you it is vital that you notice that something is wrong and when to seek help.
Some of the potential labiaplasty risks that may occur after surgery include:
If bleeding occurs, it usually occurs straight after the operation. Sometimes you can bleed a few weeks later. It is normal to get fairly significant bruising and swelling after surgery. However, if there is a large amount of bleeding below the skin surface, a haematoma may form and there may also be oozing of blood from the suture line. If you experience this it is important to let the hospital know. You may need to spend an extra night in hospital but things will settle down.
As with any operation where incisions are made, you will have some scarring. However, in most cases, the scars from this type of surgery are minimal and will fade over time.
All types of infection should be taken very seriously. Mild infections can usually be treated with a short course of antibiotics. You may have symptoms such as slow wound healing.
Rarely, an infection may be very severe and require a further operation. The signs to be aware of include:
A fever over 38° C
Redness at the incision line, this may begin to spread into the skin around
Yellow pus-like or foul-smelling fluid from the wound or drain sites
An increase in pain or discomfort that your painkillers cannot resolve.
Skin colour irregularities
Changes in the skin pigmentation around the incision area may initially be due to bruising or changes that occur with healing. However, although rare, some women may experience long-term changes in skin colour.
As a rarity there can be an area of tissue that may have poor blood supply after surgery If this disruption to blood supply is large enough, it may result in the death of tissues or skin loss in that area. The death of tissue and skin is known as ’tissue necrosis’. There is a chance you may need to have a minor surgery to remove the dead tissue.
There is always a small risk that you are unhappy with the results of surgery. Because of this, you may require additional surgery. Therefore, I advise that all patients have a full consultation to their discuss their expectations make sure you fully understand your desires of the outcome.
Reduction in the sensitivity of the genitals
Some women may experience a change in the sensation around the treatment area. This may include numbness and pain. Mostly, this will settle within a month of the procedure. However, an extremely rare complication is the loss of sensitivity in the labia that persists longer than a month. This may be due to nerve damage in the area. The area that is not excised is that around the clitoral hood. if this is operated on it can be considered genital mutilation.
General surgical complications
All surgical procedures carry some general complications. The general labiaplasty risks include:
- Development of blood clots
- Risks of anaesthesia
- Nausea & vomiting
Edge resection technique
Full ablation of the inner labia by use of the trim- (edge resection-) technique, that results in smooth appearance of vulvar area with no protuberance of labial tissue.
The labiaplasty technique is resection of tissues at the free edge of the labia minora. The tissue is resected in a line running front to back along the edge of the labia it is then sutured with dissolvable stitches. this technique can cause the loss of the natural rugosity (wrinkles) of the labia minora free edges, it gives a smoother line but it can be pinker as it shows more inner pink mucosal surface.
The advantages of edge-resection include removal of the hyper-pigmented (darkened) irregular labial edges with a linear scar.