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What is Labiaplasty Surgery?

Labiaplasty surgery is surgery on the female labia – usually the labia minora, or inner lips.  Women may seek labiaplasty for a number of reasons.  The usual reason given for seeking out this procedure – which is usually mostly cosmetic – is to correct asymmetry of the labia minora.  Asymmetry may be genetic or it may result during the process of childbirth.

Other women find that the size of their labia minora is larger than they desire; again, this could result during childbirth, but is more likely a genetic condition.  In some women, the edges of the labia minora have an almost ruffled appearance, which can also be alleviated with labiaplasty.

In cases where the labia minora are elongated, they can be pulled, pinched or even torn during sexual intercourse with penetration.  It’s interesting to note, however, that in some cultures, elongated labia minora are much sought after and the process of labial stretching begins in early childhood.  However, in the US, some women seek out labiaplasty because they have problems with their labia showing when they’re wearing swimsuits or workout clothing.

Labiaplasty can be performed as an outpatient procedure in the office of a plastic surgeon.  If you’re considering such a procedure, it’s best to choose a surgeon who has successfully performed a number of these surgeries.  Some surgeons choose lasers for the necessary incisions, while others prefer scalpels or scissors to make their incisions, believing the latter leave edges that heal more naturally.

Labiaplasty may be performed under local anesthesia, light IV sedation known as “twilight sleep,” or general anesthesia. Whichever anesthetic method you choose, you’ll still need to have someone drive you to and from your surgery appointment. In addition, there are some surgeons who say they perform a “scar-less” procedure. In reality, however, all surgical procedures leave some scars – however minor they may be. In labiaplasty, the scars are usually hidden on the inner side of the labia minora where they’re very difficult to see.

The incision is usually closed with sutures that will dissolve as the scar heals. The length of time for dissolution is usually between one and three weeks. Women who have undergone the procedure can resume most normal activities about three to four days after the procedure, although sexual intercourse should be avoid for six to eight weeks, as should anything which could interfere with healing, such as wearing a thong or other tight clothing. Healing is usually complete in about three months. These lengths of time will vary depending on the procedure – or procedures – performed, as labiaplasty may be performed at the same time as a hoodectomy or vaginoplasty, and the health of the patient.

And, of course, there are risks associated with labiaplasties that are associated with any surgical procedure, including infection, scarring and complications from anesthesia. Pain and swelling should be expected following this and any other surgery. Another potential complication is a loss of sensation, so weigh that risk carefully. If you’re considering this type of procedure, be sure to thoroughly discuss the risks with your surgeon and have a clear understanding of exactly what procedures will be performed.

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