Labiaplasty - Cosmetic Surgery Guide

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Labiaplasty is a surgery that has recently become increasingly popular amongst the female population. The surgery is designed to alter the size of labia, whether that be reduction of the labia majora or labia minora or an alteration in shape. Usually the surgery is performed to reduce the size of the inner lips of the vulva, which are called labia minora, or to make the lips more even. It is a relatively short procedure that lasts around one to two hours and is classed as an outpatient procedure. Depending on the surgeon, it is carried out under either local anesthetic or general anesthetic.

There are a number of reasons why you might opt for labiaplasty and these range from general discomfort due to the size of the labia to embarrassment due to their unevenness of labia. The size and the shape of the labia minora vary greatly between women as some are large and are visible below the labia majora which can cause discomfort in tight clothing and some are uneven, where one hangs lower than the other. Perception of what they look like also varies from woman to woman so you may feel that your labia are not "normal" in size in shape, when in actual fact they are nothing out of the ordinary. Therefore, a consultation with a qualified surgeon is needed to decide whether the size and shape of the labia is abnormal or if it is low self-esteem that is affecting your perception of them.

There is a condition called Labial hypertrophy that is where the labia minora hang lower than the labia majora thus they are visible or are in general disproportionate. There are a number of factors that can contribute to the differences in size and shape of women's labia. Some women are born with large or uneven labia, whereas others may gain them later in life due to a number of factors that include age, childbirth or hormone defects. The labia may have an impact on your life as their size can be painful in tight clothing or when riding bicycles and sexual contact may be uncomfortable. It can affect confidence and self esteem, meaning many women are uncomfortable with intimate contact. Therefore, the prospect of labiaplasty is quite appealing procedure.

Once you have decided to undergo the surgery and your doctor has decided that it is the right procedure, they will talk through the surgical options with you, giving you a full overview of which procedure they have chosen and why, as well as what to expect. As you will be under some kind of anesthetic, you will not experience any pain but after the operation, you will be swollen and bruised for a couple of days to follow. You will be given instructions as to what to do before the operation and given appropriate aftercare to follow your surgery.

Who is Labiaplasty for?

Women who opt for Labiaplasty include those whose elongated inner and/or outer vaginal lips cause pain or aren't found to be aesthetically pleasing. There are many ways in which an extended labia can cause pain; including during sexual intercourse, during exercise or simply from wearing tight clothes. Although Labiaplasty can remove the discomfort caused by an extended labia during sex, it can't be used to directly enhance sexual pleasure. But there's several other treatments such as Vaginal rejuvenation which can be used for this purpose.

The Labiaplasty procedure

Before you undergo surgery it's usually suggested that you stop smoking a few weeks before the procedure is due. This helps promote healing and can minimise the risk of unwanted complications. It's also recommended that you don't consume alcohol for at least a week before your procedure. If you're taking any medications it's best to consult your surgeon. But in the case of anti-inflammatory drugs, blood thinners and aspirin it's usually suggested that you stop taking these before surgery.

The surgery is usually performed under a local anaesthetic and, in most cases, you're able to return home the same day. The surgery takes around two hours. In this time the surgeon will shorten any large or uneven inner lips using a scalpel, a laser or specialised scissors. The location of where the surgeon makes the incision will depend upon the size and texture of the labia. The incision is usually closed up with dissolvable stitches. If the outer lips require treatment this can be done using liposuction or surgery. A hoodectomy, which uncovers the clitoris in order to enhance sexual pleasure is often performed in conjunction with this procedure.

The recovery period

Following surgery it's usual for your genitals to be swollen and sore for a few weeks. You may also experience some slight bruising. You won't be able to have sex for around four weeks after the procedure and it's usually suggested that you avoid strenuous activities during this period. You won't be able to use any tampons for about two weeks afterward but you may need to wear a pad for around a week, to help with any bleeding that may occur. Over-the-counter medication should be sufficient to deal with any pain you experience following surgery and in some cases antibiotics are prescribed to help reduce the risk of infection.

What are the risks?

As with any surgery, there are a number of risks involved such as infection and there is the chance that the surgery will not be 100% perfect but labiaplasty has more than a 90% success rate. Complications, if any, are rare although if any do occur, they can be easily solved although it may involve further surgery. The most common risk is that of infection developing, this risk can be minimised by following any advice you're given on stopping smoking and certain medications before undergoing the procedure. Excessive bleeding can occur, and damage to nerves may cause permanent or temporary numbness or decreased sensation in the area. Another common problem is Hematomas, in which a blood vessel breaks causing fluid build-ups or blood clots. Scar tissue may build up and the skin pay also crease or pucker in the treated area.

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