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What is the Labiaplasty?

Labiaplasty is a plastic surgery procedure for altering the labia minora and the labia majora, the paired tissue structures bounding the vestibule of the vulva. Labiaplasty corrects the clinical conditions wherein a woman presents labia minora that are disproportionately greater than her labia majora; the correction of the disproportions creates less asymmetrical labia minora that are functionally and aesthetically satisfactory to the woman.

Labial reduction surgery can also relate to the labia majora (larger outer lips) – it is possible to surgically reduce the size of the labia majora too if required to make them less prominent.

The size, the shape, and the skin coloration of the labia minora vary according to the woman, thus, like most paired structures of the human body, the labia are not anatomically symmetrical — one labium minus (minor lip) usually is greater (longer, wider, thicker) than its pair — yet the asymmetry usually is not notable. Moreover, the length and the width of the labia minora determine if they protrude from, or are hidden by, the labia majora.

There are many reasons why women request labiaplasty. Overly large labia often interfere with biking, working out, and wearing tight fitting clothes. Large labia can cause irritation, rubbing and discomfort during sexual intercourse, exercising, or while wearing certain types of clothing.

What is the procedure?

Labiaplasty can be performed under local or general anesthetic and usually takes less than an hour to perform.

During the labiaplasty procedure, your doctor makes a small incision along the inner lips (labia) and removes a small amount of tissue that is causing the concern. This will help to improve comfort and provide a more youthful look to the area. The surgery decreases the size of the lips and improves the appearance of the enlarged labia. Sutures are placed in the area and should dissolve within a few weeks. In many cases, the labiaplasty is undetectable. The scars are typically hidden because of the placement of the incisions.

What kind of result can you expect?

Labiaplasty is most beneficial for women experiencing excessive discomfort or hygiene problems, or who have trouble urinating because of an enlarged labia. Labiaplasty can eliminate discomfort and problems related to sexual activity, improve the appearance of the labia and eliminate pain associated with the enlarged labia.

Results are permanent, but the labia may be stretched after frequent sexual activity or pregnancy.

Recovery period and recommendations

The area of surgery will initially be tender or very sensitive and swollen, and patients may experience some mild discomfort. This will settle down after a week or two. Personal hygiene is extremely important for this procedure and extra care of the wound should be taken during the first few days. Supportive undergarments may be required, and sexual intercourse must be avoided for three to eight weeks so the area can heal.

Possible side effects and complications

Possible side effects and complications of labiaplasty include:

- some scarring;

- possible asymmetry of the labia;

- risk of infection;

- pigmentation changes in some people;

- increased or decreased sensation in the area.

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