Some women have concerns about the appearance of their labia, most commonly the labia minora. Oversized or irregularly shaped labia are common. Although there is no accepted definition of what is normal when it comes to the vulva, and labia truly come in all shapes & sizes, however they may be enlarged or significantly asymmetrical.

The labia minora and labia majora can become enlarged, stretched, and excessive, like many other tissues (including the breasts and abdomen), due to pregnancy and childbirth, involutionary changes during ageing, and the effects of gravity with time. Under these circumstances, the labia may be a cause of social embarrassment when they show through clothing such as swimming costumes and tighter clothing, or have to be continually readjusted due to discomfort.

Where the labia minora are on the larger side, they may chafe through friction during sport and exercise, suffer pressure and swelling when riding a bicycle or horse, or be compressed in tight clothing. Larger labia may also lead to painful sex, for instance when they are drawn into the vagina during intercourse. In extreme cases, large labia might even become ulcerated or dry out from exposure.

There are a number of different labiaplasty procedures to address labial shape and size. If you are concerned about your labia, you may be a candidate for such an operation. A detailed consultation with a surgeon will assess your suitability and the best course of treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Labiaplasty or labioplasty is quite simply a procedure aimed at reshaping or reducing the size of the labia minora (small inner lips of the vulva), or less commonly, the labia majora (the large outer lips of the vulva). It is not the same as a vaginoplasty, which is an operation to tighten the vagina.

Women may be concerned about the shape, size, or symmetry of their labia. Suitability for labiaplasty is decided through a detailed consultation with a surgeon who is experienced in performing labial surgery.

A labiaplasty can be carried out using either a general anaesthetic or a local anaesthetic. If a local anaesthetic is opted for, it can be performed with or without sedation. The procedure involves reshaping or reducing the labia using one of several different techniques. These include trimming of the edges or removal of a section of each labium, for instance in the shape of a wedge. The specific technique will have been discussed with you in detail at the time of your consultation. The wounds are the stitched up with fine dissolvable stitches. The whole procedure takes about one to two hours and a patient is able to go home the same day, regardless of the type of anaesthetic used.

Labiaplasty is not a particularly painful procedure, and patients are encouraged to be up and about straight away. Most of the swelling usually settles in the first few days or early weeks. Some residual swelling may persist for months, but does not normally interfere with day to day activities. Most patients will have returned to all normal activities between 4 and 6 weeks following their operation. Your surgeon will discuss the aftercare plan with you in greater detail.

Following labial surgery, patients are advised to take a few days off work with the option of a full week if required, with a view of returning to normal day-to-day activities after about one week. Swelling is greatest during the first few days and the treated areas can be quite uncomfortable with excessive movement.  Although it is advisable for patients to mobilise as soon as is comfortable following surgery, they should be sensitive to their body and not to do too much too soon.

Most patients opt for general anaesthetic when undergoing a labiaplasty, so they won’t feel any pain. Any discomfort or pain experienced after the surgery will be controlled with medication provided by the doctor and this will usually subside within a few days. Discomfort is usually the result of swelling which tends to subside after the first days of recovery.

You must be certain exactly what you want from the procedure. This includes not just the appearance, but also the expectation of the effect that this will have on you and your sex life. Discuss this carefully with your surgeon as disappointment is really the worst outcome.
There always swelling and bruising and this may take a few weeks to settle. Bleeding or more specifically, oozing, is also common for a day or so.

Less commonly, we see delayed healing and local infection. This usually settles in a week or so.

Just occasionally, as a result, you will need a minor revision procedure.
There is soreness rather than significant pain and this response to simple painkillers. Any numbness around the incision settles in a month or two and is rarely persistent.
Even if you opt for general anaesthesia, rather than a local, you are awake and home in no time.

Certainly. This is a self-contained local procedure, which should not affect you generally. It can be done under Local Anaesthesia or the Cadogan Clinic form of light General Anaesthesia called TIVA (Total IntraVenous Anaesthesia) and always as a Day Case. You will wake up instantly and not be nauseated. Set aside half a day. Simple painkillers will suffice.

Maybe work from home the next day or two. Avoid significant exercise for 2 – 3 weeks and sexual activity for a bit longer.

During the initial consultation, the surgeon will advise patients to stop smoking and will review any medication they may be taking. The surgeon will also provide patients with all information needed to ensure they are fully prepared for the procedure.

What to expect

Free Consultation with a Patient Advisor

We offer a free, no-obligation 30-60 minute consultation with one of our Patient Advisors. They will work with you to understand your objectives and the results you want to achieve, talk you through the procedure and answer any questions you may have. If you decide that you would like to proceed to the next step and see a surgeon, your Patient Advisor will be happy to arrange this for you. At this point, you will be required to pay a consultation fee. 

Surgical Consultation

The next step is for you to meet your chosen surgeon at the Cadogan Clinic. Your surgeon will use this time to make a comprehensive medical assessment of you, your condition, and your expectations before making a recommendation and personalised treatment plan for you. You will then discuss the outcomes you can expect to see and ask any questions.

The Procedure

On the day of your procedure you will be welcomed at the Cadogan Clinic by your Patient Advisor and dedicated nursing staff. Following a brief medical check, you will meet with both your surgeon and anaesthetist to run through the details of your procedure one final time and answer any last questions you may have. 

Recovery

After the procedure, you will recover in the capable hands of our aftercare team. As we are a day-case facility you can expect your recovery to be complete within 2 to 3 hours. If your surgeon is happy with your results, you will be able to be discharged from the Clinic the very same day. In some cases patients may wish to stay locally in our exclusive partner hotel the day before or after your procedure in order to be close to their surgeon. Talk to us about these options if this is for you. 

After Care & Support

Our care and support continues in the days and weeks following your procedure with our complimentary aftercare programme. This comprised of a series of appointments made with your surgeon and nursing team to monitor your progress and recovery. They will also introduce you to several scar minimization techniques and bespoke products to aid your progress. Our team are also on call to answer any questions you have around your surgery at any time you are concerned.

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