Labiaplasty

What is it?

Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure to correct and define the appearance of the labia – the inner lips of your vagina. For some women, concerns over the size or shape of their labia can cause distress and even depression. Most of us don’t talk about this most intimate part of our anatomy and there can be a lot of confusion and concern about what it is “supposed” to look like. The fact is there is no right or wrong way for it to look, but if you are concerned that your labia may be enlarged or uneven, labiaplasty is an effective way to correct it.

What to expect

Labiaplasty surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and takes around an hour. It reduces and/or reshapes the labia minora to give a neater, more even appearance. The labia are not completely removed.

This is a sensitive issue for most women and you will be treated with respect and consideration during consultations and throughout your hospital stay

You will need to stay in hospital overnight after surgery. You are likely to experience swelling and discomfort after the procedure, but this can be managed with oral painkillers. It usually subsides within one or two weeks.

You will be invited to the clinic for a wound check a week after surgery. Your surgeon will advise you about showering and getting the incision sites wet. You should refrain from physical exercise for six weeks after surgery.

What results can be achieved?

Concern over the appearance and your labia can affect your confidence and may even have an impact on your intimate relationships. For some women, these concerns may always have been present or may have resulted from stretching during childbirth or as a result of irritation or infection. Labiaplasty can help to correct the problem of an enlarged labia and help you to start living a more fulfilling life and enjoying sexual relations again.

Possible risks

All surgery carries risks and cosmetic surgery is no exception. Fortunately, there are rarely any significant complications associated with labiaplasty, which is a commonly performed procedure.

After surgery

Most people experience mild discomfort after surgery, which is easily controlled by pain killers.

It is advisable to take a week to 10 days off work and, during this period, you should take things slowly to help the wounds to heal. Bruising and swelling will normally take around six to eight weeks to subside fully. The majority of patients recover well following labiaplasty and can return to normal sexual relations three to four weeks after surgery.

You will be invited to the clinic for a wound check a week after surgery. Your surgeon will advise you about showering and getting the incision sites wet. You should refrain from physical exercise for six weeks after surgery.

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Common risks

The risk of most types of cosmetic surgery is similar and these will be discussed with you during your consultation. You can help to minimise certain risks by following your surgeon’s advice and instructions after surgery. Chest infection, problems with wound healing and tissue damage is particular complications in smokers. For this reason, you may be asked to quit smoking prior to surgery. Some of the common risks of labiaplasty include:

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  • Minor discomfort – this can be treated with over the counter painkillers.
  • Minor swelling and bruising – your surgeon will advise you how long this will last based upon your individual procedure.
  • Scarring – Scars will be positioned so they are hidden within the folds of your labia as much as possible. Scars fade over months to become paler and less obvious. In most people they will be thin and silvery, but in some they can stretch, move or become red and sensitive. In some cases you may need scar revision surgery.
  • Dissolving skin stitches not holding properly – if this occurs the stitches may need to be removed under local anaesthetic.
  • Stitch granuloma – sometimes a tender lump or abscess can occur at the stitch site. This is generally more common where the skin is thinner, such as in front of or behind the ear. The stitch may need to be removed or it may be treated with antibiotics.
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More serious risks
The symptoms listed above are normally temporary or without serious consequences. There are some more serious risks associated with cosmetic surgery, which will be discussed with your surgeon as part of the initial consultation.

Plastic surgery alone cannot change your life but it can give you the confidence to make those changes for yourself.

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