It’s a topic that can make us uncomfortable, even when discussing it with plastic surgeons that encounter these medical conditions all the time. But there’s never a need to feel nervous or embarrassed about taking care of your body, and making sure that your genitalia is healthy is essential to your overall health. Labiaplasty can help you achieve this. It’s a permanent surgical procedure that addresses any concerns with your labia.
What is Labiaplasty?
In labiaplasty, a board certified surgeon either decreases, increases, or builds the labia, the soft fleshy folds of skin that protect your vagina and urethra. The labia includes two folds; one is the labia majora (or large lips), which is covered with pubic hair. This piece frames your external genitals, the opening to your vagina. The other is called the labia minora (small lips), and it protects your urethra opening as well as the vagina.
A labiaplasty is used to accomplish one of three objectives:
- Decrease the Size: Trim or cut excess tissue.
- Increase the Size: Inject fat from liposuction or use a filler material.
- Build a Labia: With tissue from other parts of the body, a labia can be built as part of a gender affirmation procedure.
Why Get Labiaplasty?
Good question. People have various reasons for getting labiaplasty:
- Cleanliness: When there is excess tissue that’s difficult to clean completely, bacteria tends to gather there, affecting hygiene and sometimes causing medical issues.
- Aesthetics: Aging and childbirth can cause the skin to sag, making you look older than you are; this procedure tightens the labia and restores a more youthful appearance.
- Asymmetry: If the sides don’t match up on the labia majora or minora, you’ll get a lopsided effect. Labiaplasty helps them match better.
- Better Comfort: If the labia minora grows beyond the edge of the labia majora, it can get in the way during physical activity like intercourse or exercise. The pulling and pinching can get quite uncomfortable.
- Confidence: A limp or loose labia can be a confidence killer. When you’re comfortable with your labia’s appearance, you can enjoy being more intimate and also wear clothing without worrying about any bumps or lines showing.
- Gender Affirmation: As part of the gender affirmation process, labiaplasties help construct female genitalia.
What is the Recovery Time for Labiaplasty?
Fortunately, labiaplasty has a relatively short recovery time. Performed using local or general anesthesia in an outpatient facility, it usually takes less than two hours to complete. If it’s a gender affirming procedure, it will take more time because it requires completely building the labia instead of reducing its size or adding fillers. Many patients pair a labiaplasty with other procedures like a clitoral hood reduction, mons pubis liposuction, or a nonsurgical vaginal tightening treatment called RejuVAnate. In this way you can achieve all of your objectives for that area at once — and when you group these together, the overall recovery time and number of individual surgeries is reduced.
Here’s a typical labiaplasty timeline:
- The First Few Days: While you’re healing, you’ll want to ensure that you’re bathing properly with lukewarm water and soap to clean the area. You can use a dabbing motion to dry once you’ve used the restroom. Over-the-counter NSAIDs like acetaminophen help manage the pain, and prescription medications may be taken if needed. The surgeon will also prescribe an oral or topical antibiotic to prevent infection, and you’ll likely take a stool softener to prevent constipation, since any exertion could break or stretch your stitches and jeopardize the surgery. You can aid healing with an ice pack that’s applied for 20 minutes on/20 minutes off to help with swelling and pain. While you recover, you’ll need to wear loose-fitting underwear and pants to avoid any friction. You may have some light bleeding for up to a week, but this is normal and can be handled by a small pad. The tenderness and pain should subside after a few days.
- The First Week After the Surgery: The soreness and swelling may occur for a couple of weeks. Most patients need about one week off from work to rest.
- After About Two Weeks: You can resume your normal activities. If you have a strenuous job, refrain from lifting for a longer period of time to allow yourself the proper time to heal.
- After Four to Six Weeks: You can resume strenuous exercise, including physical activities like running, swimming or cycling; you can resume sexual intercourse after six weeks. At the end of this period, the swelling should have subsided considerably. Give yourself this full rest to ensure that you maximize your healing and don’t rip any stitches or hurt the wound.
- After Four to Six Months: Labiaplasty results are optimized in this time period. Fortunately, scarring will be minimal, if it’s visible at all. You’ll be able to enjoy your new labia!
Will I Need Another Labiaplasty Later?
The good news is that labiaplasty is a permanent procedure. Unless you have a pregnancy that stretches the skin again, it will stay in its shape. The only caveat is that if you received an injection, you may require additional injections in the future to maintain the shape.
At the Advanced Center for Plastic Surgery, we believe that the labia is a beautiful part of who you are. Whether you have uncomfortable excess skin from a pregnancy, menopause or other reason—or you’re undergoing gender affirmation surgery, we are here for you every step of the way. We recognize that talking about your privates can feel, well, private, and we respect and honor that. We have experienced the transformative power of labiaplasties and vaginal rejuvenation and would love to help you feel comfortable, confident and clean. Reach out today and we can help you love your labia!