What is Labiaplasty Surgery (Labia Reduction Surgery)?
Labiaplasty surgery, also known as labia reduction surgery, is a popular procedure for women wishing to reduce the appearance of the large or protruding labia minora. Labiaplasty reduces the size of one or both labia minora. Many women are concerned, for medical or cosmetic reasons, about long labia minora (small inner vaginal lips) and for that reason desire labiaplasty surgery. Others consider labia surgery because of physical deformities or inconsistencies in appearance of the labia minora. (more below)
As for why some women have long labia, the scientific literature generally attributes it to genetics and hormones.
Why Women Want Labia Reduction Surgery
One of the most common complaints from women wanting labiaplasty surgery is that the labia minora (inner vaginal lips) are too long or that one is longer than the other. This group of women is concerned that their inner vaginal lips protrude out past the labia majora, the outer vaginal lips. From a purely cosmetic viewpoint, this can impact a woman's sexual confidence and inhibit her from enjoying her sexual experience. As one of Dr. Hailparn's patients confided to her:
"It was a psychological thing for me. I was always worried about having sex and when I did, I made sure it was completely dark. I didn't want any man seeing me with my clothes off."
Another cosmetic concern, some women find that the labia minora protrude past the clothing edge when wearing certain types of clothing; like underwear and bathing suits.
There are also medical and comfort reasons behind why women request labia surgery. The result of long labia may be:
- pain with intercourse
- can't wear certain clothing - seams are uncomfortable and cause rubbing and chafing
- can't do certain exercises - walking, running, biking, horseback riding - because they press on, squeeze or pinch the labia.
- hygiene problems - long labia can attract moisture, resulting in odor and yeast infections. There's ongoing research into the possible link between recurring urinary tract infections and long labia. Some women have trouble inserting tampons.
For these types of issues, labiaplasty is actually the recommended treatment.
The third group of women interested in labia reduction surgery are those whose labia were injured during childbirth or some other accident. Pigmentation may also be an issue. Where the edges of the labia minora are usually pink, they are now gray, brown or black. Having labia reduction surgery resolves that issue. (download our "Am I A Candidate for Labiaplasty Questionnaire)
Many women who have a labiaplasty also elect to have a clitoral hood reduction (aka hoodectomy); removing the extra folds of prepuce tissue around the clitoral hood. It can be done on one or both sides.
Some women have none or very little prepuce, while in others it is quite prominent. This can:
- hinder access to the clitoris
- cause hygiene issues
- be bothersome due to asymmetry or pigmentation
- cause the clitoral hood to stick out
No tissue is ever removed from the middle, only from the sides to avoid injury to the clitoral nerves. Once the extra tissue is removed, thin sutures are placed in two layers to reapproximate the skin edges. They dissolve within several weeks. (View hoodectomy before and after pictures)
To address your personal questions about labiaplasty surgery or to schedule a labia reduction surgery, please call the Cosmetic Gynecology Center of San Antonio at 210-615-6646 or email us.