What is Labiaplasty Minora (Labial Reduction)?

The Labia minora is composed of the inner folds of skin of the external female genitalia. Increased levels of estrogen during puberty and pregnancy can cause the Labia minora to enlarge. The Labia may also increase in size and sag as a result of aging. Labiaplasty minora can be performed to remove excess, floppy, or uneven labia minora. Many request this surgery to eliminate the appearance of a bulge with certain clothing such as wet swimsuits or leotards. The term Labiaplasty can also relate to the cosmetic surgery of the labia majora (larger outer lips) to make it less prominent and saggy. Labiaplasty is done in the operating room and in surgical centers under general anesthesia. This procedure takes about 1 -2 hours to perform.

Other Labiaplasty techniques:

Laser reduction labiaplasty is another option used to achieve an enhanced labia appearance. During this procedure, lasers are used to trim the labia minora (small inner lips.) The procedure takes less time but results in loss of the normal labia edges.

Augmentation Labiaplasty can also be used to enhance the labia minora. This involves harvesting fat from other areas of the body and reinjecting it into the labia, providing an enhanced and youthful appearance.

Possible Candidates for Labiaplasty?

  • Reducing pain during intercourse
  • Improving self esteem
  • Reducing emotional and physical discomfort from having enlarged labia
  • Enhancing sexual pleasure

Frequency

The prevalence of labial hypertrophy is difficult to estimate, but the annual frequency of labiaplasty procedures appear to be increasing along with the number of physicians who offer this service. This is an evolving field in plastic and gynecologic surgery.

Causes

The cause of labia minora hypertrophy is varied and multifactorial. Some women are born with a protruding labia minora. In other women, hypertrophy of the labia minora is observed later in life and has been attributed to factors such as mechanical irritation by intercourse or masturbation, childbirth, lymphatic stasis, and chronic irritation and inflammation from dermatitis or urinary incontinence. Childbirth by the vaginal route causes some women to develop hypertrophy, in some cases, due to hematoma formation at the time of birth. The recent popularity of genital piercing may lead to asymmetry when heavy hardware is placed.

The Procedure

Labiaplasty usually takes about one to two hours while the patient is under general anesthesia.

For labiaplasty of the inner lips, some surgeons reduce the excess tissue by removing a wedge-shaped section from the center and bringing together the top and bottom. This technique keeps the normal labial edge. The excess skin and/or fat are surgically removed. After which, the tissues are stitched up together using dissolvable sutures.

Recovery

The patient is monitored for a few hours before she is allowed to go home. Minimal pain, discomfort and cramping may be felt after the procedure, but proper prescribed medications may be given to alleviate this. The patient will be given post-operative instructions after the procedure. Sexual Intercourse is avoided several weeks following the procedure. Women usually return to work and normal activities within two to five days, while more strenuous activities will take about three weeks.

Long-Term Effects of Labiaplasty

The results of the labiaplasty are permanent. The labia can become mildly enlarged again over time, but this rarely happens .

Risks and Limitations of Labiaplasty

All forms of cosmetic surgery carry some degree of risks and complications, including bleeding, scarring and infection. It is important that patients are aware of both the benefits and the risks, before undergoing labiaplasty.

Risks associated with labiaplasty include changes in sensation, changes in pigmentation, or asymmetry. The risks for labiaplasty depend on the technique used. Changes in sensation have not been reported with the wedge technique, but have been more often observed with the amputation (trimming) technique. Mild separation of the labial edge can occur with the wedge technique in five percent of cases but is easily corrected. The trimming technique changes pigmentation and texture of the labial edge.

FAQs

Q: What signs and symptoms are experienced by patients with an enlarged labia?

A: Many prospective labiaplasty patients complain of pain, discomfort or irritation during physical activity, sexual intercourse, or when wearing certain types of clothing.

Q: What technique do you use for labia reduction surgery / labiaplasty and why?

A: When performing vaginal surgery, we use a contouring technique to shape and reduce the size of the labia. The labia reduction surgery is done in a curvilinear fashion, where a gradual curved incision is done from the clitoral hood towards the perineal area near the anus. We usually reduce the labia to or just below the level of edge of the labia majora. This technique does NOT leave a noticeable scar despite what other surgeons say. This contouring affect also allows us to remove the darkened edges of the labia.

Q: How much time is required to actually do the surgery?

A: The labia reduction surgery usually takes about one to two hours to perform.

Q: Do you use a laser to do your contouring?

A: We use a variety of instruments including a laser electric micro tip cutting devise, plastic surgery scissors, and scalpels. We use whatever instruments we believe will give us the best results for your labia contouring.

Q: How long do the sutures last?

A: After the excess tissues are incised, the skin would again be stitched together using dissolvable sutures. These sutures may take 6-12 weeks to dissolve. There is no need to come back to have the sutures removed.

Q: What type of anesthesia is used?

A: Patients can either choose to have the surgery under general or epidural anesthesia. Local anesthesia is not used because injecting the labia minora with the anesthetic will cause it to swell, altering the original appearance of the labia. This makes it difficult for the surgeon to operate and remodel the area concerned.

Q: Why don’t you use local anesthesia and do the surgery in the office?

A: A sterile environment is required to be able to perform surgeries such as this one. The setting in the hospital or in a surgical center is most ideal for the above mentioned procedure.

Q: How Much Pain is Associated with Labiaplasty?

A: It is natural for women to feel mild to moderate discomfort and swelling after undergoing a labiaplasty. The doctor should prescribe medications to help reduce pain. Most pain and discomfort should subside within several days but some discomfort may still continue for several weeks.