Prominent or asymmetric labia minora (the folds of skin bordering the opening of the vagina) can be a significant source of embarrassment and discomfort for some women. Aesthetic concerns with regard to their labia minora, may cause some women to shy away from intimate situations. The condition may also result in functional impairments, interfering with certain activities such as walking, riding a bicycle, or sexual intercourse. While the cause of this common condition is often genetic, the labia may also become elongated as a result of childbirth or the natural aging process.
A labiaplasty is an aesthetic and functional procedure that entails removing the excess tissue from the labia minora, so that it no longer extends beyond the labia majora (or outer labia).
2. Ideal Candidates
Ideal candidates for labiaplasty are healthy non-smoking women, who in addition to having realistic expectations regarding surgical outcomes, are bothered by:
- The appearance (i.e. size, discoloration, or length) of their labia minora; or,
- Pain, discomfort, and/or irritation during intercourse caused by enlarged and/or elongated labia minora; or,
- Pain, pulling sensation, discomfort, and/or irritation during physical activities because of enlarged and/or elongated labia minora.
3. The Procedure
The procedure is usually performed under local anesthesia, with or without intravenous sedation. If necessary, the procedure can also be performed under general anaesthesia.
There are a number of different labia reduction (labiaplasty) techniques that can be used depending on the patient’s particular situation and aesthetic goals.
Dr. Lee commonly performs his labiaplasties using the trim technique as it has a low complication rate which often translates to a short and uneventful recovery process for patients.
The procedure involves:
- Removing a longitudinal section of excess tissue from the labia minora so that it is either level with, or slightly shorter than the labia majora, to give symmetrically contoured and aesthetic result.
- Once the necessary amount of tissue has been removed, the incisions are closed with absorbable sutures.
- The procedure takes approximately 30-45 minutes to complete.
4. PREOPERATIVE CONSULTATION
Dr. Lee will perform a thorough medical evaluation during your consultation to ensure that you are medically fit for surgery. He will also revise your medication list as certain medications may need to be temporarily stopped before your surgery.
After carefully evaluating your anatomy and assessing your aesthetic goals, Dr. Lee will review your available surgical options and help you choose the best treatment plan for your desired results.
Since smoking is known to be associated with poor/delayed wound healing, wound dehiscence, wound infections, and increased scarring postoperatively, smokers will be asked to stop smoking 4 weeks prior to surgery, and for at least 2 weeks postoperatively .
Depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, overall health status, and the type of anaesthesia required for your procedure, you may be scheduled for routine pre-operative blood testing and possibly an electrocardiogram approximately 1-2 weeks before surgery. If necessary, additional recommendations will be made once the results of these tests have been reviewed.
The operation is performed on an outpatient basis and most patients are permitted to go home a few hours after surgery.
There will be an antibiotic ointment over your incisions following your surgery, which you will continue to apply at home. Some bruising, swelling, and discomfort are expected following surgery. You will be given a prescription for pain medication to help minimize your discomfort during your recovery.
Most patients experience a very fast recovery. Bruising and swelling will take about 2-3 weeks to resolve. Although the results of your surgery will be immediately apparent, it may take up to 6 months for you achieve your final look.
Before leaving our facilities, you will be given detailed instructions to follow throughout your recovery in order to optimize your healing, minimize the appearance of your scars, and to ultimately achieve your best possible results. Vigorous physical activities, exercise, and intercourse should be avoided for the first 4-6 weeks.
6. RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS
As with any surgery, there are risks associated with a labiaplasty procedure. Smoking, diabetes, peripheral artery disease (poor circulation), as well as heart, lung, or liver disease may increase your risk of perioperative and/or post-operative complications.
- Risks associated with anesthesia
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Poor wound healing
- Wound separation (wound dehiscence)
- Altered skin sensation
Dr. Lee will thoroughly discuss these risks (and possibly others) with you and answer any questions you might have prior to obtaining your consent for surgery.
7. Post-operative scarring
Scars form as the body’s natural response heal tissues. As with any scar, the extent of post-surgical scarring depends on a number of modifiable factors (i.e. avoidance of UV light exposure, tension-free wound closure, appropriate wound care, etc.) and non-modifiable factors (i.e. patient age, comorbidities, skin type, genetics, etc.). While it is not possible to perform scar-free surgery, Dr. Lee makes every effort to minimize the appearance of your post-surgical scars through careful pre-operative planning, the use of meticulous surgical technique, and by ensuring appropriate wound care and follow-up post-operatively.
It is not unusual for scars to appear red and be slightly raised/firm for the first 4-6 weeks following surgery. Scars will flatten and become more pale over time, and can take up to 12 months before achieving their final appearance.