Aesthetic Vaginal Surgery (Labiaplasty)

All you need to know about an increasingly popular procedure

Over the past ten to fifteen years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of women seeking aesthetic surgery to change and improve the appearance of the labia. This is principally related to an enlargement of the labia minora. There are actually no agree or defined parameters for deciding what is or not normal regarding the relationship of the labia majora to the labia menora. However, there are a variety of reasons why many women feel uncomfortable or unhappy if their labia menora protrude to any significant extent beyond the margins of the labia majora. This can have some true symptoms including vulvo-vaginal hygiene, irritation of the skin, occasionally pain during sexual intercourse and pubic pain when wearing tight clothes. The labia minora may normally become larger with some morphological changes due to mechanical stretching of childbirth, injury and ageing.


There has been some concern that younger women wish to change the appearance of their labia in order to achieve a flatter vulvo-vaginal complex, which may be seen as portrayed in commercial adverts and pornography. There is, however, no real evidence that this is the case.


The general reality is that the majority of women are motivated to seek labioplasty because they feel that their labia are not within a normal range of size, appearance and colour.


Labial Surgery In the past labial surgery was restricted to very simple removal of excess free edge of the labia minora. This operation, although successful, resulted in a large scar down the free edge of the labia which distorted the normal folded labial edge. There are now several options which are more sophisticated and retain the natural free edge with the normal with a more discreet and hidden scar. These techniques can be used in combination both to reduce the size of the labia minora and the clitoral hood, and sometimes even to unmask the clitoral hood.


The operation itself is generally carried out as a general anaesthetic day case. The labia may be temporarily swollen due to selling following the surgery but this is generally of short duration and normal activity can be resumed after a week. It may be necessary to abstain from sexual activity for a little longer. Any woman presenting for labiaplasty needs to have careful information regarding all of the potential options and a realistic discussion regarding expectations.

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