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Labiaplasty is a vaginal rejuvenation procedure designed to reshape the labia minora (genital lips). Enlarged labia can be a normal anatomical variation from birth or caused by aging, childbirth, or hormonal effects. Women have various reasons for desiring vaginal rejuvenation. A labiaplasty procedure can reduce discomfort caused by wearing tight clothing or bathing suits. Patients who are concerned about the appearance of the labia or genital area during intimate situations can also benefit from the procedure. Labiaplasty procedures are designed to reduce pain and discomfort, both emotionally and physically, due to enlarged labia.

During this procedure, excess tissue of the labia minora, or inner genital lips, are trimmed by removing the top layer of section and keeping the underlying tissue intact. By undergoing labia rejuvenation, this can help boost a woman’s self-esteem and enhance her sexual enjoyment. Other vaginal rejuvenation procedures serve different purposes. Labiaplasty is usually performed on an outpatient basis, with no overnight stay necessary. The incisions made during this procedure are well concealed.

Charlotte Labiaplasty questions answered by Dr. Erik Miles.

What is a labiaplasty?

Labiaplasty is also referred to as labioplasty, labia minor reduction, labial reduction and labial rejuvenation. Simply stated, it is a surgical procedure designed to reduce the size of the labia minora to obtain a more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing appearance of the external female genitalia. The term labial hypertrophy refers to the disproportionate size of the labia minora relative to the labia majora. Enlarged or asymmetrical labia minora (inner labia) is a very common condition among women of all ages. Patients should not be embarrassed about discussing their concerns with their physicians, because the condition can be safely and effectively treated with a high level of satisfaction.

Many factors can contribute to enlarged or elongated labial size. These factors include pregnancy, trauma from childbirth, weight changes, menopause, hereditary conditions, and the natural aging process. Women are now more aware and self-conscious about the appearance of their genitals and will often seek labiaplasty surgery to attain a more “normal” appearance.

Is a labiaplasty safe?

Safety is the foremost priority with any surgical procedure at North Charlotte Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. It is our position that plastic surgery procedures should only be performed by surgeons who are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Surgeons with this qualification have met the highest standards of training and board certification. Dr. Miles has these qualifications. Prior to any cosmetic surgery, all patients undergo a thorough medical history screening during the consultation process. Although complications can occur with any procedure, they are rare with a labiaplasty.

Dr. Miles uses the latest surgical techniques to reduce the size of the labia minora without adding unsightly scars or distorting normal anatomy. These techniques do not involve invasive surgical techniques that could potentially risk injury to nearby nerves and other vital structures. In rare instances when complications related to the procedure do occur, they are usually minor and can be managed effectively in the office based setting.

How long does a labiaplasty usually take to perform?

Labiaplasty surgery typically takes about two hours to perform. Because there are anatomical variations between patients, the time to complete the surgery will vary. Surgical time will take less if the correction is only very minor or not needed on one side. Attaining an aesthetically pleasing result is a high priority, and Dr. Miles will devote the necessary time to every patient to accomplish this goal.

How do you perform a labiaplasty?

Surgical techniques for labiaplasty surgery have evolved and improved over the years. For many years the procedure consisted of simply clamping and amputating the redundant labia. While this technique effectively improved the outward appearance in most cases, it did not take into account the ramifications of poor scar placement or potential changes in sensation due to nerve injury. Unfortunately many practitioners still use this outdated technique. Dr. Miles utilizes a very sophisticated technique that provides consistently good results with very few complications. A thorough understanding of anatomy, blood supply, and innervation is essential to minimize complications related to surgery in this delicate area.

Every labiaplasty procedure is individualized to meet the specific needs of the patient. During the consultation process, Dr. Miles will determine the severity of the condition and listen to each patient’s concerns. The procedure is performed with a team of highly experienced anesthesiologists and surgical assistants. The procedure starts with the injection of a long acting local anesthetic. Precise markings are placed to ensure maximum removal of redundant labia minora tissue without over resecting and constricting the vaginal opening. The excess labial tissue is then resected using a wedge technique that optimizes scar location for closure. The clitoral hood can also be reduced when necessary. Closure is then performed in multiple layers using absorbable sutures. This technique minimizes potential nerve injury thus preserving the maximum amount of sensation. Dr. Miles will explain the procedure in detail using pictures and diagrams during the consultation process.

Who is a good candidate for a labiaplasty?

Women choose to undergo labiaplasty surgery for a variety of different reasons. One of the most common reasons is the desire to reduce pain or discomfort experienced while wearing tight clothing, swimwear, while exercising, or during sexual intercourse. Most women with this condition are also embarrassed about the appearance of their genitals and desire a more anatomically normal look. Reduction of the labia or clitoral hood can sometimes provide greater exposure of the clitoris, allowing for increased stimulation and more satisfying relationships. The procedure can be safely performed on young women who have developed and adult women of any age. Although it is considered a minor procedure, good candidates should be in generally good health. Dr. Miles spends a great deal of time during the private consultation process with every patient to answer all questions and determine if labiaplasty is the right treatment option.

What are realistic expectations for a patient having a labiaplasty?

The primary thing that patients should expect after this surgery is a satisfactory improvement of their condition. The procedure has very few complications, and they are typically minor when the do occur.

Early after the procedure, patients can expect minor discomfort that is typically managed very well with prescription pain medication. Bruising is typically minor. Swelling after labiaplasty surgery can be significant in the early postoperative period but subsides as healing progresses. Patients can use an ice pack intermittently for the first few days. Showering is permitted after surgery, and patients will apply antibiotic ointment to the incisions twice each day. A small amount of bleeding or spotting from the wounds is common during the first several days. Gentle pressure with a gauze pad should stop any bleeding. Bruising, numbness, and itching around the sutures are also often experienced. It is normal for the wound to be pink and slightly raised during the healing process. Infections are rare and every patient receives prophylactic antibiotics. Patients are expected to rest the surgery site and avoid activities that could potentially traumatize or stress the incisions. No sexual intercourse is permitted for 6 weeks. The sutures used for the procedure are all absorbable (even the visible sutures) so suture removal is not required. Dr. Miles follows patients very closely after all surgical procedures. Typically after labiaplasty surgery he will see patients once or twice the first week and then schedules an appointment at about 6 weeks. The long term results are generally predictable and very satisfying for patients.

How long does it take for a patient to recover from a labioplasty?

Labiaplasty surgery is very well tolerated and the vast majority of patients go through the recovery and healing process without any complications. Dr. Miles follows patients very closely after any surgical procedure and he is always available to address any concerns. After surgery, patients will have surgical incisions that will be dressed with antibiotic ointment. No special dressings are required, however absorptive pads are used early in the healing phase. There are no drains or sutures to remove. All patients are given specific written instructions for labiaplasty care prior to surgery.

The amount of time it takes to recover after a labiaplasty procedure varies between patients, depending on the extent of the surgery and the patient’s general health. Patients will generally take 1-2 weeks off from their regular activities. The office can provide excuse notes for work or school if needed. Following the surgery, patients are encouraged to get out of bed to promote blood circulation. Prolonged sitting can cause discomfort. Most patients can resume non-strenuous work after 1-2 weeks, however exercise should be avoided for about 6 weeks after surgery. As mentioned, sexual intercourse should be avoided for 6 weeks. In some cases mild swelling can persist for many months and this is not cause for concern.