While female genitals naturally vary in appearance, women with enlarged, asymmetrical, or uneven labia can experience a number of functional and aesthetic concerns. In addition to feelings of self-consciousness or embarrassment that can arise with the appearance of elongated labia, excess labial tissue often causes pain and discomfort when performing certain activities, such as sitting, riding a bike, or engaging in sexual intimacy. Minneapolis plastic surgeon Joe Gryskiewicz, MD offers the labiaplasty procedure for patients who seek to alleviate these symptoms or who simply wish to rejuvenate their feminine wellness.
What is Labiaplasty?
Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure designed to reshape or recontour labial tissue. It is often used to address labia minora hypertrophy, which occurs when the inner labial folds extend past the outer labial folds. Labia minora hypertrophy can exist as a condition present since birth or can develop due to childbearing, aging, or menopause. While this usually does not present a health risk, nor does it typically require any medical treatment, individuals with enlarged labia often pursue labiaplasty to relieve irritation caused by friction, pressure, or twisting and tugging of the labial tissue. The surgery can also cosmetically refine the labia to create a more symmetrical or balanced appearance, if desired.
What Can Labiaplasty Do For Me?
Labia reduction surgery can achieve many benefits for patients concerned with the appearance or physical symptoms of elongated labia, including:
- Minimized pain or irritation caused by friction, pressure, or tugging against the labial tissue
- Decreased self-consciousness or embarrassment caused by an enlarged labia
- Reduced visibility of the labia through form-fitting clothing
- Restored symmetry in the labia minora
In general, a labiaplasty may be considered when enlarged labial tissue diminishes one’s quality of life or stops individuals from fully engaging in certain activities. The best candidates for surgery are patients who maintain realistic expectations for the outcome of the procedure. If you are unsure whether you could benefit from labiaplasty surgery, Dr. Joe can assess your needs and goals during a consultation to help you determine your candidacy. Many women undergo labiaplasty as part of a comprehensive Mommy Makeover, a unique series of treatments personalized to restore your pre-pregnancy figure.
What is the Labiaplasty Procedure Like?
Depending on your surgical goals, labiaplasty is designed to reduce the length of the labia minora, restore symmetry in the labia, and/or remove excess labial tissue. The procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis and uses local anesthesia. Using precise techniques, Dr. Joe is careful to place incisions along the natural contours of the labia for a discreet and natural-looking result. To excise redundant tissue, Dr. Joe may employ a trim approach which places a straight-line incision along the edge of the labia. Alternatively, he may use a wedge incision to remove and reshape labial tissue according to your desires. Any incisions are typically closed with absorbable sutures. Dr. Joe will go over all of the details of your unique operation prior to surgery so you are well-informed of what will take place during the procedure.
What is Recovery Like for Labiaplasty?
After labiaplasty, there will be temporary tenderness and/or swelling in the treated area. This will dissipate as healing progresses, but discomfort can usually be managed well with oral pain medication. Many patients feel well enough to return to work within a few days; however, strenuous physical activity, sexual intercourse, and tampon use should be avoided for four to six weeks. Following the procedure, women typically express immense satisfaction from both the resolved symptoms of elongated labia and their rejuvenated labial appearance. The results of labiaplasty will generally improve as swelling continues to go down.
Video provided by Mark Epstein, MD
Labia Augmentation Using Fat Transfer
As women age, they may experience a deflation of the labia majora. This loss of fullness in a patient’s intimate areas can occur naturally as part of the aging process, or the volume deficit may be aggravated by childbirth. In either case, it is not uncommon for women to seek increased firmness and fullness in this region for rejuvenation of their feminine wellness.
While some individuals look to dermal filler treatment to improve the appearance of their labia, most patients wish to attain a longer-lasting outcome than can be attained with cosmetic injectables. For those who wish to achieve a more permanent fullness, fat transfer to the labia is another rejuvenation option offered by Dr. Joe that can provide effective volume enhancement with enduring results. Also known as lipotransfer or lipofilling, this procedure is designed to use harvested fat from a nearby region—such as the inner thighs, mons pubis, or lower abdomen—to recontour the shape and size of the labia or restore lost volume in the area. Before transfer, the collected fat is treated and purified to concentrate the fat graft’s growth factors, some of which include stem cells.
Good candidates for lipotransfer are patients who wish to enlarge or enhance the labia majora area, often due to a loss in volume over time from hormonal changes, aging, weight loss, or childbirth. Recovery is generally fairly rapid, and normal activity can be resumed in approximately one day or two. Vigorous exercise can be resumed two weeks after the procedure.