More and More Women Are Opting for Labiaplasty – Is It Right for You?

Posted on January 19, 2016 by Cynthia M. Poulos, M.D.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, women’s genitals naturally occur in a range of shapes and sizes, and factors like aging, childbirth, and hormones can affect the shape and size of the labia over time. There is no specific shape or size that is more common or more correct, and asymmetry of the genitals does not in any way indicate deformity or impede proper function. A woman who feels uncomfortable or unhappy with the size or shape of her labia has the option to seek out a procedure called labiaplasty. The labia consist of the inner “lips” that encircle the vagina, and some women feel self-conscious about the appearance of this part of the body.

Labiaplasty, sometimes also called labia reduction, is a surgical procedure that alters the size or shape of the labia or corrects the appearance of asymmetry, and it is becoming increasingly common. In fact, it is one of the fastest growing cosmetic procedures and is requested by women of all ages.

Some women who seek out the procedure do so because they are uncomfortable or self-conscious when the labia minora protrude beyond the labia majora, which may cause discomfort in tighter clothing or while riding bicycles or participating in other activities. Sometimes, especially large labia minora can even interfere with sexual activity, with the lips occasionally getting pushed up inside the vagina.

Other women pursue labiaplasty for aesthetic reasons—they want to achieve a clean, smooth, tight appearance with minimal to no lips and an attractive symmetry. This has become particularly common with younger women who are more likely to wax the entire pubic region, which makes the labia more noticeable.

A labiaplasty is typically offered on an outpatient basis with local anesthesia, so patients may remain awake during the procedure. After surgery, patients typically experience some swelling, bruising, and tenderness at the treatment area. Pain medication can be prescribed to control discomfort, while ice packs applied to the labia for the first 48 hours after surgery can help control swelling.

You will need to avoid tight-fitting clothing for up to four weeks after your surgery, and limit strenuous physical activity for two to three weeks, as the treatment area may still be sensitive. Afterwards, you may gradually resume light activities, though you should avoid high impact exercise, such as jogging, for up to six weeks in order to give your body ample time to heal. Sexual activity may be resumed after approximately six weeks.