A labiaplasty is a surgical procedure in which the labia or lips that surround the vaginal opening are reduced in size and length. It is usually carried out on the inner lips or 'labia minora' so that they are then concealed within the outer labia.
Costs for labiaplasty can vary depending on the surgery method used and if it's combined with other treatments. Below are starting prices in various countries.
A labiaplasty is a shortening or reshaping of the labia or vaginal lips. Surgery is carried out using one of three possible techniques, however, each one involves unwanted tissue being cut away using a scalpel or in some cases, a laser. Dissolvable stitches are then applied to close the openings and create a new labia edge.
Your first step when seeking to undergo a labiaplasty is to have a consultation with your surgeon. At this point, your doctor will look closely at your individual needs to properly evaluate the best approach to labia reduction. This may involve additional tests such as laboratory tests and imaging if the doctors feel your case warrants it. If your focus is primarily an adjustment to the aesthetic appearance of your labia, your surgeon will also ensure that you have realistic expectations of what can be achieved.
2. Choose a Procedure Method
There are three main kinds of techniques used to carry out a labiaplasty. These are known as the trim method, the wedge method and the de-epithelialization method. Each one offers their own balance of pros and cons. Your surgeon may have a speciality in one method or may recommend a particular one based on your unique situation.
During your consultation, your surgeon will also discuss your anaesthesia options with you. Labiaplasty can be carried out using either general or local anaesthetic. Local anaesthetic has become the preferred option as the patient can be consulted during the surgery regarding the amount of tissue removal and can also escort themselves home after the procedure, which is a great benefit for those who wish to maintain a level of privacy around such an intimate procedure. Lastly, the use of local anaesthetic also reduces the overall cost of the procedure.
The procedure is carried out while you are placed in the lithotomy position, with knees in the air and legs supported by medical stirrups. Once you have been sedated, the doctor will begin to make incisions in line with one of the three techniques mentioned above. Once your doctor is satisfied with the shape and amount of resection, they will use dissolvable sutures to close the cuts.
The procedure should not take longer than two hours. You can drive yourself home or leave unescorted a short time afterwards unless you have undergone a general anaesthetic. Your doctor will request a follow-up visit the following day, with more follow-ups required in the next one to four weeks.
As mentioned, there are three main types of labiaplasty techniques used. Your doctor will help you choose one of the following based on your own preferences and medical situation.
The Amputation/Trim Technique: The amputation technique is more commonly referred to as the 'trim' or 'strip' method. It is usually the most readily available due to its simplicity. Excess skin is amputated from the labia minora in a relatively linear way. The opened labia are then sutured to create a new edge. Its benefits lie mostly in its simplicity and the ease with which it can be carried out. Cons include a potential risk to nerve endings and a large alteration to the natural edge of the labia.
Wedge Technique: This technique can be broken down into three further categories, namely the anterior, central and posterior wedge methods. However, each one involves the excision of a section of the labia which is then sewn together. This offers the advantage of maintaining the natural line of the labia and reducing or disguising the appearance of scarring. Drawbacks include a greater potential for nerve damage around the excised sections and a heightened risk of the incision opening again during the healing process. However, one particular advantage of this technique is the ability to adapt the shape and position of the wedge to create a more tailor-made solution based on the needs of the patient - the effectiveness of this may depend on your surgeon's familiarity and experience with the technique.
Deepithelialization Technique: This technique involves the removal of a half-moon shaped section of skin on the inner lip which is then joined together using sutures. This technique carries a number of advantages including a reduced risk of nerve-related complications and the possibility to create more natural looking labia. However, due to the nature and position of the incision there is a limit to how much skin can be removed and hence, may not be a viable option for everyone. In addition, due to the proximity of the incision to neuro-vascular connections, only very experienced surgeons are able to carry out this style of procedure.
A certain amount of controversy has surrounded the rise in the numbers of elective labiaplasty procedure, with several concerned groups pointing to manipulated media content as the cause of an unrealistic expectation of what a 'normal' vagina looks like. Consequently, your surgeon should help gauge your expectations not only in terms of outcomes but also in terms of your understanding of the variance of vaginal appearances as a natural phenomenon. This will help you make a more informed decision and contribute to a higher level of satisfaction at the end of the procedure, should you choose to go ahead with it.
Your recovery process can involve a number of different steps and treatments that will be adapted to your particular circumstances. In almost all cases, regular use of a cold compress will be advised to reduce swelling. However, your recovery may also involve a number of other follow-up treatments such as the use of salt baths or a topical ointment cream, abstinence from sexual intercourse or the avoidance of strenuous exercise for an extended period of time.