Surgery performed on external parts of the female genitalia is known as labiaplasty. This procedure reduces the size and shape of either the inner lips of the vagina (labia minora) so that they are smaller than the outer lips (labia majora), or the outer lips themselves. In recent years, as genital surgery has become socially acceptable among young women, labiaplasty has dramatically grown in popularity.

Fast Facts

  • Women are sometimes born with large labia.
  • Female genital surgery has dramatically grown in popularity.
  • Most operations are performed on an outpatient basis.
  • A spray bottle full of water can be a helpful tool to wash the area post surgery.

Reasons for choosing to have labiaplasty

Labiaplasty can be a medical necessity for women who experience pain as a result of having large or oddly shaped labia. Pain can occur during intercourse, when the labia are forced into the vagina, or simply from wearing tight-fitting clothing, which cause the folds of labia to rub together.

Women are sometimes born with large labia. In others the labia grow with childbirth, weight gain or simply with age. Some women dislike the way their labia look and want to change them. Some feel that the pleasure they get from the clitoris would be increased if it were not covered by the labia.

If you have suffered with any of these issues, labiaplasty could improve the way you feel about yourself.

Things to consider once you’ve decided to have labiaplasty

The shape and size of the labia does not affect childbirth in any way, so labiaplasty can be performed on women who have not yet had children.

If you decide to have labiaplasty you might want to consider a procedure often performed at the same time. Vaginaplasty tightens the muscles of the vagina; so if “rejuvenating” your vagina is of interest, learn about vaginaplasty before making the decision to undergo genital surgery.

Not all surgeons perform labiaplasty, but some are specialists in this field. Make sure the surgeon you choose has experience with this procedure.

What to expect

Depending on the complexity of your surgery, the procedure usually takes one to two hours. The surgeon will use either a scalpel or a laser to remove the excess tissue. The scar from this surgery is minimal and usually well hidden in the natural creases of the labia.

Most women return to work and normal activities 3 or 4 days after having this procedure. You should wear loose clothing during these few days. You won’t be able to engage in sexual activity, wear a tampon or do any strenuous exercise for 6 to 8 weeks.

Most labiaplasty operations are performed on an outpatient basis, which means you will probably be sent home a couple of hours after you’ve recovered from the effects of anaesthesia.

Before and after surgery

There are a number of things you can do leading up to any kind of surgery to improve the experience. There are also a number of things you can do following any surgery.

Before your labiaplasty, make sure to have plenty of loose clothing, such as track pants and boxer shorts, on hand. You will not be allowed to wear g-strings or thongs for about a week.

Your surgeon will have given you post-operative instructions, such as washing the area twice a day to keep it clean. A spray bottle full of water can be a helpful tool to do this.

Possible risks and complications

Any surgical procedure involves risk. When having a labiaplasty, you should know what the risks are before you consider surgery. To minimise possible problems, find a fully qualified surgeon specially trained to perform this procedure.

Make sure you familiarise yourself with the list of complications that could arise as a result of any surgery.

The labia are normally slightly uneven. Asymmetry or wrinkling can occur after surgery but is mostly unnoticeable.

Rough costs involved

Both your surgeon, anaesthetist and hospital costs will vary. A rough estimate is between $4000 and $6000 (AUD). Some private health insurers in Australia will help with hospital bed and theatre fees. Having a doctor’s referral will enable you to claim some of this cost.

You should expect the costs to be higher if you are having combined procedures at the same time.

This information is correct as of 2019.

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