Labiaplasty & Labia Reduction
Labiaplasty, or labia reduction, is a term that encompasses a number of procedures targeted at the labia minora and majora, also known as the inner and outer “lips” that surround the clitoris and vaginal opening. Labiaplasty aims to correct a number of conditions, including enlarged, asymmetric, abnormally shaped or discoloured labia. Surgical and non-surgical options are available. Most procedures take up to an hour and a half and are performed on an outpatient basis.
While labiaplasty is a primarily cosmetic procedure, many women who undergo labia reduction procedures have more than just aesthetic concerns. Enlarged labia can cause pain, irritation, and discomfort during exercise or sexual intercourse, and can prevent some women from feeling comfortable wearing tight clothing due to increased friction. In some cases, enlarged labia can even lead to chronic infections.
Who is a Good Candidate for a Labiaplasty?
Many women undergo labiaplasties for aesthetic reasons; they are unhappy with or embarrassed by their enlarged or misshapen labia. Labia hypertrophy, or enlarged labia, is a condition that can occur naturally with age, childbirth, injury, hormonal changes, or chronic irritation, and can be mild or severe. Some women are genetically predisposed to having larger labia. A woman’s labia minora may become asymmetrical, enlarged, misshapen, or elongated, and may protrude past the labia majora, leading to a “saggy” appearance. Many women are self-conscious about their enlarged labia in intimate situations, which can lead to sexual dissatisfaction. For women with severe labia hypertrophy, the labia can appear as a “bulge” when they wear swimwear or other tight clothing.
A 2008 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine reported that 32 percent of women who underwent labia reduction procedures did so to correct a functional impairment, 31 percent both to correct a functional impairment and for aesthetic reasons, and 37 percent for aesthetic reasons alone. A 2011 review in the same journal reported overall patient satisfaction ratings in the range of 90-95
Procedures that Target the Labia Structure
There is no single “labiaplasty” procedure, but rather various types of procedures that target the labia structures. The techniques used depend on the desired final result. Some labiaplasty procedures include:
The “Barbie” or “Smooth” Labiaplasty
Like the doll that coined the name, this type of labiaplasty was popularized by women requesting a “smooth” look. This is the most dramatic type of labiaplasty, in that the labia are mostly or completely excised. It creates a refined, petite, minimalist look that should completely eliminate the uncomfortable feelings of pulling or rubbing to which enlarged labia are prone. Once the labia minora are removed, the labia majora can close more tightly, giving the appearance of a “single line” opening. In cases where the labia majora appear enlarged or saggy, they can be shaved down to enhance the streamlined appearance. Patients are reminded that because this is a more comprehensive type of labiaplasty, reversals are not easily performed.
The “Rim” or “Peek-A-Boo” Labiaplasty
Unlike the Barbie, the Rim labiaplasty takes a more conservative approach, and is the most common type of labiaplasty. During this procedures, both the labia majora and minora are reduced, but a small part of the labia minora is left to protrude, or “peek” slightly outside the labia majora, of which a part is also left intact, to create a natural looking rim. This procedure aims at restoring symmetry to the labia by removing excess skin folds, as well as skin, which may have become darker and more irregular around the edges.
The Hybrid Labiaplasty
As the name suggests, the Hybrid labiaplasty combines the best of both worlds, falling somewhere between the conservative Rim and the dramatic Barbie. In this procedure, the labia minora are reduced in size such that the labia majora overlaps them, but with about one centimetre of the labia minora left intact, creating a “clamshell” look.
This labiaplasty procedure is targeted specifically at the labia majora, or outer vaginal “lips,” removing any excess skin and wrinkles in order to create a smooth look. This procedure is particularly requested by women whose labia majora have lost firmness with age or after childbirth, leading to a “saggy” appearance that can make the entire vaginal area appear open or loose. In instances where sagging is less pronounced, fat transfer or dermal fillers may be sufficient to correct this condition, and may be done with or instead of surgical skin removal. This non-surgical procedure is known as labia puffing. Puffing the labia stretches the skin and creates a tighter appearance.
Laser Labia Tightening
For women who are hesitant about pursuing surgical options, advances in laser technology have heralded a revolutionary non-surgical labia reduction treatment, which is non-invasive, effective, safe, pain-free and highly precise. This new labia tightening procedure, which targets mainly the labia majora, uses state-of-the-art lasers which emit micro-pulses of light that do not break the skin and do not require anaesthesia, eliminating many of the risks of traditional surgical procedures. The light pulses generate minimal heat, producing only a warming sensation during treatment, and are able to target multiple layers of skin, tightening subdermal collagen, as well as remodelling and stimulating the production of new collagen bundles. The result is an increased firmness of the labia majora without the risk or recovery time of surgery. This procedure can similarly be applied to the prepuce, the skin surrounding the clitoris, in order to increase clitoral sensitivity during sexual intercourse.
Hormonal changes, such as those that accompany pregnancy or menopause, can cause hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the labia, which can lead them to look discoloured compared to the surrounding skin. Depigmentation procedures address these concerns using non-surgical laser techniques, and can even correct textural inconsistencies.
Some patients come to the clinic requesting revisions to surgeries performed elsewhere with which they were unsatisfied. Often these “botched” procedures were performed by inexperienced and under-qualified physicians. We are happy to report that in a majority of cases these situations can be corrected to the patient’s satisfaction by one of our qualified specialist surgeons.
Labiaplasties & Vaginal Tightening
Labiaplasties are often performed simultaneously with vaginal tightening procedures, as well as a number of other procedures that target the genital area. Combining procedures is advisable as, while it may lengthen recovery time, it puts much less stress on the body than two separate surgeries, and reduces costs associated with anaesthesia and the use of surgical facilities. Price adjustments are usually available for patients undertaking multiple procedures.
Labiaplasties & Hoodectomy
Labiaplasties are also sometimes performed with a hoodectomy, or clitoral hood reduction, which trims excess skin around the clitoris (known as the prepuce or clitoral “hood”) in order to expose the clitoris and increase sexual sensitivity. Some women choose to also undergo a hymenoplasty (which restores the hymen), mons pubis reduction (liposuction, trimming, and lifting of the area between the belly and vagina), or G-spot amplification (injection of a filler in order to increase the size of the G-spot). Other cosmetic procedures, such as breast augmentation, may also be performed, depending on the surgeon.
Full recovery from labiaplasty typically takes 6 weeks, during which time patients are asked to abstain from sexual activity and to avoid using tampons or performing any strenuous activities. Many patients find that they are able to return to work within a week of the surgery. Like any surgery, labiaplasty comes with its own risks, mainly those associated with bleeding, anaesthesia, scarring and infection. Our expert surgeons and specialized techniques ensure that every measure is taken to mitigate surgical risks.
For women who are tired of the pinching and irritation caused by labia hypertrophy, or for those who are simply unsatisfied with the appearance of their intimate area, labiaplasty could be an effective solution.