If you don’t like the shape of your breasts or nose, you can get a nip-tuck, enlargement, reduction or lift, right? But what about when something doesn’t look quite right down there?
Well, if it has to do with your labia, a labiaplasty may be in order.
What is Labiaplasty?
Labiaplasty is the surgical trimming or shortening of the labia, those little flaps of skin surrounding your vagina. With gravity and time you may notice your labia begin to hang a bit more than you like or than is comfortable.
A labiaplasty is what you would do to trim those bad boys down.
Labiaplasty is fast becoming one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries for women. It first appeared in the medical literature as far back as the 1970’s, primarily as a means of correcting congenital abnormalities.
But, by the mid-1990’s cosmetic labiaplasty really began to take off.
While this procedure can certainly help change the appearance of your girl parts, many women seek labiaplasty for more practical reasons like comfort.
Oversized inner (minora) or outer (majora) labia can be uncomfortable, causing soreness, chafing, or simply getting in the way during physical activities such as exercise, sex and in some cases, simply walking in your favorite skinny jeans.
If you’re self-conscious about the look of your labia, or just sick of the unnecessary discomfort, then labiaplasty may be an option for you.
3 Main Labiaplasty Techniques
There are three basic techniques when it comes to labiaplasty:
- Trim Technique (aka Amputation or Leading Edge Resection)
- Wedge Technique (aka Central Wedge Resection)
- De-epithelialization Technique
During this procedure, a clamp will be placed under each labium to prevent bleeding, and the unwanted tissue is cut or shortened using specialized scissors or a scalpel.
Advantages of the Trim Technique:
- This will certainly trim down the size of your entire labia minora.
- Lower risk of complications than some of the other techniques.
Disadvantages of the Trim Technique:
- Doesn’t look as natural since you lose some of the natural wrinkles, or ‘rugosity’ that is found in a natural labia.
- There will be a long scar along the incision that you may not love.
- Nerve damage or loss of sensitivity is possible.
- When skin is removed from the labia, the clitoral hood can sag and be noticeable in a way that it wasn’t before.
- You really dislike the dark, rough surface at the edge of the labia minora and want it GONE.
Also referred to as the Central Wedge Resection Technique, the Wedge Technique is a bit more advanced than the trim. Instead of just trimming off the excess skin, a V-shaped incision is made, then sewn together, making for a more natural shape and definition.
The Wedge Technique can be modified from a ‘V’ shaped incision to a ‘Y’ shaped incision, depending on the amount of extra skin and its proximity to the clitoral hood.
There is also a more complicated variation on the Wedge Technique called the Z-Plasty which involves a more serrated incision and, when done correctly, can give the most natural results.
Advantages of the Wedge Technique:
- Minimizes the size of the labia.
- Looks more natural with less scarring than the the Trim method.
- Can better harmonize the look of the clitoral hood in the finished results.
Disadvantages of the Wedge Technique:
- Since you’re cutting away connective tissue you may experience a loss of sensitivity
- Greater chance for the incision to open during the healing process necessitating more caution after care
- Less ability for the edges to ‘pinken’ and the edges may appear darker than expected
- Although very rare, you can develop little tumors called neuromas that occur in the nervous system
- You may experience some tension at the edge of the repair.
- The main issue is the central third of the labia minora.
- The idea of a scar along the length of your inner labia gives you heebie jeebies.
In the De-epithiliazation, a half-moon incision is made on the inner lip. This area is then removed, and the remaining edges are sutured together, decreasing the length of the labia with minimal scarring.
Advantage of De-epithilialization Technique:
- Reduces the length of the labia minora but can also minimize the thickness of the labia majora.
Disadvantage of De-epithilialization Technique:
- Due to its close proximity to neuro-vascular connections in the remaining labial edge, only a very experienced surgeon can perform this technique.
The labiaplasty is often complemented with a Clitoral Hood Reduction to even things out to reduce the size of the area of the clitoral hood.
How it Goes Down
- Your surgeon may suggest you stop taking certain pain medications within two weeks of surgery if possible, as they can increase the risk of bleeding.
- Certain herbal remedies, including vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, green tea and ginkgo biloba can increase bleeding risk post surgery, and should also be avoided in the week leading up to your surgery.
- You’ll have to hold off on the romantics – no sexual intercourse the night before surgery!
You can endure this procedure with local anesthesia but I wouldn’t recommend it. This is one of those times that you really have to consider what discomfort means. If a needle in your lady parts sounds bearable, then maybe local anesthesia will work for you.
Personally, this is a procedure where I would opt for general!
- In the first few days after surgery you will experience swelling, tenderness and bruising. Depending on your healing process, this can last up to a month.
- You will be asked to apply a cold press for swelling and pain.
- Your surgeon will request a follow up visit the next day, then 1 week later, then 2 weeks after that.
- A topical antibiotic ointment may be prescribed.
- Some clinics may also prescribe a regimen of salt or “Sitz” baths. A Sitz bath is a container that you sit on to cleanse the area, and can be purchased at any major retailer or drugstore.
- No shower for 24 hours.
- You will be wearing sanitary napkins for the bleeding.
- No heavy or strenuous exercise for at least 3 weeks.
- No tampons for 10 days.
- No sex for about a month.
Cost of Labiaplasty
If your doctor recommends a labiaplasty to help alleviate discomfort or pain, or you are getting a labiaplasty as part of a gender reassignment surgery, then your health insurance may cover it.
However, if you’re addressing the area for aesthetic purposes, expect to spend anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000, depending on where you live and the extent of the surgery. For example, if you are getting only the labia minora adjusted and you live in Skokie, it may be $1500.
If you’re getting the total overhaul, shortening your labia minora, de-puffing your majora, a clitoral hood adjustment, and live in NYC then $6,000 will be a GREAT deal. Make sense?