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What is a Labiaplasty? Why Might it Be Necessary?


Over the years Labiaplasty has exploded in popularity amongst women of all ages. The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) reported that labiaplasty procedures in the US have increased 45% in 2015-2016.

The size, shape, and color of the labia widely differs amongst women. It can change due to childbirth, aging or congenital defects. What once was a taboo subject is now a mainstream medical procedure that many women are undergoing – some for aesthetic reasons, others for valid medical concerns.

What is a Labiaplasty?

Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure that “trims” the excess (or redundant) folds of skin of the labia minora. There are many ways of performing the surgery and they can be pretty complex. How and what the surgeon does is entirely dependent upon the needs and desires of the individual undergoing the procedure.

For example, the labia could be made smaller or more symmetrical or even flush with the vagina. This can be performed by taking a “wedge” out of the labia or entirely removing the part that is excessive. The look and shape of the labia differs from woman to woman so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all procedure. Deformities of the clitoral hood can also be corrected.

Labiaplasty Pain and Recovery Time

The surgery itself can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour. It’s usually performed under local anesthesia, but the patient can opt for conscious sedation or general anesthesia. Overall, it’s generally considered safe and recovery is usually quick.

Is Labiaplasty Painful?

As with any surgical procedure, there will be some pain. The surgeon might prescribe pain medications and antibiotics to help speed up the healing process. If there are any scars, they will be invisible due to the location of the surgical incisions.

After having a labiaplasty, most women can return back to work in one week without any issue. It may take 2-3 weeks before they can exercise, and it’s recommended to wait four to six weeks before engaging in intercourse. During the healing process, women are also instructed not to wear tampons or tight clothes.

Complications from Labiaplasty

Medical complications are generally mild and rare. The most common complications reported are excessive bleeding, poor wound-healing, labial asymmetry, and infection. In very rare cases a revision surgery might be required.

How Much Does Labiaplasty Cost? And Will Insurance Cover It?

Labiaplasty is considered an elective surgery, which means that most insurance companies will not cover it. Because typical insurance companies will not cover the cost of a labiaplasty, most plastic surgeons will offer some sort of payment plan that will allow you to pay off the cost of the procedure over time.

While we can’t give you an exact price without having a consultation, labiaplasty’s in the United States can cost anywhere from $1500 to $6000 depending on the amount of work that needs to be done, the location within the country, as well as the experience of the surgeon.

The best way to get a true cost estimate for a labiaplasty is to schedule a consultation with a surgeon. They will be able to examine you and break down the cost of the procedure for you.

Why Would Someone Need a Labiaplasty?

Aesthetic Reasons

In 2008, the Journal of Sexual Medicine came out with a report that stated 32% of women who had labiaplasty did so in order to correct a functional impairment and 37% solely for aesthetic purposes.

There are many reasons why women opt for this procedure. Some do it for aesthetic reasons. As “Brazilian waxes” (and other hair removal procedures) have grown in popularity over the years, more and more women have become self-conscious of their genital areas.

Adult websites also play a small role in why women want this procedure done. Some women opt for labiaplasty because they want to look like the women in adult magazines and on websites. Women who are in their teens and early 20’s tend to undergo this surgery for aesthetic purposes. Other women are self-conscious about the outline of their vaginal area through clothing, especially when they’re wearing tight fitting active wear such as yoga pants.

Medical Reasons

There are also valid medical reasons why labiaplasty would be performed. The excess labia skin can cause physical discomfort when wearing certain clothes. Riding a bike, exercising, or even sitting at a desk for any period of time can also cause pain and discomfort.

Other women have trouble putting in a tampon or experience inflammation or chafing when having sex. Excess skin around the labia minora can also become enlarged on one end, but not the other.

Labiaplasty is also performed in sex reassignment surgeries (male-to-female). It’s usually the second stage of the procedure wherein labiaplastic techniques are used to create a clitoral hood and labia minora.

Criticism of Labiaplasty

There are critics of the surgery who say that the reason women undergo labiaplasty is due to poor self-image of themselves. More and more teenage girls are wanting to undergo labiaplasty and many surgeons recommend against it due to their bodies not being fully developed at such a young age.

There are some critics who claim that undergoing the procedure for cosmetic purposes is completely unnecessary. They state that due to the current culture of removing pubic hair, the labia becomes more visually prominent. There is also a huge misconception that labiaplasty is a form of “genital mutilation” (it is not because the intention of the procedure is to help, rather than deny sexual pleasure to a woman).

Ultimately, the final decision should be left to the patient. If the procedure improves the quality of their life in some way, shape, or form, then they should undergo it regardless of what others think or say.

Improving Quality of Life

The vast majority of women who have undergone a labiaplasty have reported a marked improvement in the quality of their lives. Their clothes fit better, they no longer have that embarrassing “camel toe” look, and their self-confidence/self-esteem rises.

When it comes to sexual intercourse, some women report that an enlarged labia can cause extreme amounts of pain. Labiaplasty can help alleviate the discomfort and make sex enjoyable once again.

Whether the reason is cosmetic or medical, labiaplasty is one of those procedures that can help women feel better about themselves as well as provide a level of comfort that wasn’t there prior.

Labiaplasty in Dallas, Texas

There are many valid reasons for wanting to undergo the labiaplasty procedure. From improved aesthetics, to correcting the discomfort felt when performing regular everyday activities, labiaplasty has helped countless women improve the quality of their lives.

If you are interested in labiaplasty, or would like to learn more, give the offices of Dr. Adams a call at 214-965-9885 or schedule a consultation online. Dr. Adams is an American Board of Plastic Surgery certified surgeon and has the expertise and experience to help you look and feel your very best!



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