Labiaplasty (also known as labioplasty, labia minora reduction, and labial reduction) is a plastic surgery procedure for altering the labia minora (inner labia) and the labia majora (outer labia), the folds of skin surrounding the human vulva. There are two main categories of women seeking cosmetic genital surgery: those with congenital conditions such as intersex, and those with no underlying condition who experience physical discomfort or wish to alter the appearance of their genitals because they believe they do not fall within a normal range. The size, color, and shape of labia vary significantly and may change as a result of childbirth, aging, and other events.
The labial reduction can be performed under local anesthesia, conscious sedation, or general anesthesia. When labiaplasty is performed under local anesthetic, patients are instructed to apply a topical anesthetic (Emla cream) to the region approximately one hour in advance. A series of small needles are injected at the beginning of the procedure, which takes approximately 10-20 seconds. You should not experience any discomfort during the actual procedure.
Labia reduction surgery is relatively contraindicated for the woman who has an active gynecological disease, such as an infection or a malignancy; the woman who is a tobacco smoker and is unwilling to quit, either temporarily or permanently, in order to optimize her wound-healing capability; and the woman who is unrealistic in her aesthetic goals. The latter should either be counseled or excluded from labioplastic surgery. Davison et al write that it should not be performed when the patient is menstruating to reduce potential hormonal effects and the increased risk of infection.
undergoing labiaplasty surgery is an extremely personal decision, but once you’ve decided that the procedure is right for you, you may have some questions about what recovery from labiaplasty will be like. Fortunately, labiaplasty is performed as an outpatient procedure; both the surgery itself and the recovery period take a minimal amount of time compared to more invasive or involved surgeries. To keep you reassured through every step of the way, we’ve prepared this list of 5 things you should keep in mind for your recovery from labiaplasty surgery.
- The labiaplasty surgery will be performed with anesthesia, and you will feel little to no discomfort, but some mild post-op pain will most likely occur. It is surgery after all, and operating on a sensitive area like the labia will cause some discomfort. You will be given medication to help with your symptoms after your surgery, which you should take as instructed by your surgeon.
- It is perfectly normal—and almost guaranteed—that you will have swelling and/or bruising for a few weeks after surgery. If you experience discomfort while urinating, you can ease the pain either by urinating in the shower or by running warm water over the affected area as you pee. Additionally, icing the affected area can help reduce swelling (don’t apply directly to the skin—use cloth coverings). One side is always more swollen than the other.
- In order to minimize discomfort, you should wear loose-fitting underwear and clothing. Tighter clothing can result in rubbing, which will hurt and prolong recovery.
- For six weeks following your surgery, you must, must, MUST abstain from sexual intercourse. After this time has passed, you may resume sexual activity as comfort permits, but consult with your doctor to be safe.
While patients can usually return to work in as little as 2 to 5 days, the full recovery and results of your labiaplasty surgery won’t be complete until four to six months afterwards. Be patient, follow all your surgeon’s instructions, and you will be pleased with the results.