Labiaplasty, or 'labial reduction', is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in the UK for women.
It is common for women to have concerns about the size, shape or definition of their labia, the inner and outer folds that sit either side of the vagina. This may be the result of genetics, ageing, or most frequently, following childbirth. Labiaplasty is a quick and straightforward surgical procedure to reshape and resize the labia.
What is Labiaplasty
Labiaplasty is surgery to reshape or reduce the size of the labia minora, the small lips of skin on either side of the vaginal opening.
The unwanted tissue is cut away with a scalpel or laser, before the loose edges are stitched back together with fine, dissolvable stitches. It can be done using either a general anaesthetic or a local anaesthetic with sedation. The whole procedure takes about 1 to 2 hours, and all patients are able to go home several hours later for their recovery.
Why do women have it
The motivation for Labiaplasty surgery can be aesthetic or functional in nature.
For many women having larger or asymmetrical labia can cause chafing and discomfort whilst wearing tight fitting clothes, or during physical activities such as sexual intercourse and exercise.
For others the appearance of oversized or asymmetrical labia can be the cause of significant psychological distress or even embarrassment.
This often occurs when the appearance of the labia has changed over time, either with the onset of the ageing process or following childbirth, when the labia have become enlarged, stretched or asymmetrical. Equally, genetics can also play a part.
Whilst there is not accepted definition of what is normal when it comes to the size and shape of the labia, for many labiaplasty offers a highly effective, swift, and minimally invasive surgical solution that can solve the problem in a matter of hours.
Who is suitable
Cadogan Clinic considers individuals fit for the procedure, if all of the following are true of them:
Physically and psychologically fit and healthy
Bothered by the appearance of their labia
Have realistic expectations of what can be achieved by surgery
The first step for all of our patients is to meet with the surgeon we feel is best placed to perform your procedure for a consultation.
At the consultation you will be able to discuss with your surgeon what your hope to achieve from the procedure, as well as discuss in detail what may or may not be possible in terms of results. Your surgeon will examine your labia in order to come to a view of what is realistic in your case. This will take into account the size and structure of your labia, any symptoms you may be experiencing and your own personal desires for the outcome.
Finally a comprehensive discussion regarding risks and complications will take place, alongside a discussion regarding the post procedure and recovery phase. Your previous medical history will also be recorded (including previous surgery, medications, allergies etc.) and an assessment of your fitness for surgery.
If your surgeon feels you are a good candidate for surgery, you are then invited to consider whether you would like to proceed for surgery or otherwise following a two week 'cooling off' period.
Within this period you are welcome to come in and discuss your potential surgery with your surgeon as many times as you like.
The Cadogan Clinic offer chaperones to patients undergoing intimate examinations. Alternatively, patients are very welcome to bring a friend or a relative with them to consultations should they so wish.
If you choose to proceed with surgery, the next time you come into the Clinic after your final consultation will be the day of your procedure.
Before admission the following behavioural changes are recommended / required:
In the 6 weeks before your procedure we recommend smoking is discontinued as patients who smoke have a higher risk of healing more slowly and complications
In the week before your procedure you must cease taking Aspirin or any medication that contains Aspirin
In the 6 hours prior to surgery you must not consume food or any drink, other than small sips of clear fluid (e.g. still water, black coffee, black tea) which are allowed up to 2 hours before admission
On the day of your procedure we ask that you arrive for your admission an hour before the agreed start time of surgery. At this point a nurse will come and record blood pressure and other relevant vitals, you will meet with your anaesthetist and your surgeon who will make the final mark-ups.
The procedure itself takes place under general anaesthetic over the course of one to two hours, although on occasion it can take place under local anaesthetic. The procedure involves reshaping or reducing the labia either by trimming the edges or removing a section of each labium in the shape of a wedge. The wounds are the stitched up with fine dissolvable stitches.
Following the procedure, you will recover in our ambulatory recovery rooms for between one to two hours, dependent on the scale of the procedure. Once our specialist nursing team are happy that your initial recovery is complete and you are safe to return home, you will be allowed to leave the Clinic accompanied by a friend or member of your family.
Once home you will have access to our dedicated oncall nursing team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This team of specialists are dedicated to your comfort and pain control, and are there to field any questions you may have in the immediate post operative phase.
We advise total rest for several days after the procedure, during which time your pain and swelling will subside. We advise against strenuous exercise in the first few weeks, and against sexual intercourse in the first 6 weeks.
We ask that you come in and see our nursing team 1 week after surgery to ensure your incision sites have been properly reviewed. At this juncture we also recommend you meet with one of our on site aestheticians to discuss ongoing treatment to support the healing and scarring process.
We ask that you come in to see your surgeon after 6 - 8 weeks for a final check up.
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.
To enquire about a consultation with a Labiaplasty specialist, please complete the form below.