Labiaplasty, a surgical technique that modifies the contour of the labia, is becoming more popular. According to reports, this is a result of the widespread usage of tight-fitting leggings, which may make some women feel uncomfortable or self-conscious owing to the size and shape of their labia.
According to Dr. Gordon Lee, professor of plastic surgery at Stanford University, “some of the apparel is really form-fitting so if someone had a very visible region down there that might possibly come through.” Patients vary in how self-conscious they are about it. I can see it being a cause of worry, he continues.
Atlanta cosmetic surgeon Dr. Marisa Lawrence concurs, telling Yahoo Life that wearing form-fitting clothing like leggings, bathing suits, and trousers may make contour flaws more noticeable.
According to the Aesthetic Plastic Surgery National Databank, about 19,000 labiaplasty operations were carried out in 2021, a 36% increase from 2020. Prior to that, the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons reported a more than 217% rise in labiaplasty requests from 2012 to 2017. According to Lee, “it appears to have become worse with time.” “There’s more knowledge of it… and maybe more acceptance that it’s okay to speak about some of these things and there’s nothing to be embarrassed of,”
What what is labiaplasty then? The following information regarding the operation is provided by plastic surgeons.
Initially, a quick anatomy lesson
Sometimes referred to as “designer vagina” surgery, labiaplasty. That may seem catchy, but it’s not precisely true. The vagina, an internal, elastic, muscular tube that extends from the vaginal entrance to the uterus, is unaffected by labiaplasty. Four “lips” make up the labia, which are considered external genitalia.
Lawrence notes that the labia majora are the outer lips with hair. “The labia minora are the inner lips. The clitoral hood, which partially or completely encloses the clitoris, is located at the top portion’s center. The urethral opening and the vaginal entrance are located below the clitoris, respectively.
When it comes to the anatomy of female genitalia, Lawrence says there are “vast differences” (case in point: the Labia Library). The labia minora may differ in length, thickness, symmetry, protuberance, and how far they extend from the labia majora’s margin, according to the author.
Every body is unique, and vulvas are no exception, according to Debby Herbenick, professor at the Indiana University School of Public Health and author of Read My Lips: The Complete Guide to the Vagina and Vulva.
Lawrence states that labiaplasty is a cosmetic surgery technique that lowers the size and sometimes the shape of either the labia majora or labia minora. It is normally carried out under local anesthetic and costs on average $3,600. But the labia minora receives it more often.
According to Lawrence, the procedure’s aim is to shrink the labia minora so that they don’t droop below the labia majora that bear hair. The goal of a labiaplasty is to shorten both labia such that the labia minora no longer protrude over the labia majora, which may be done to correct asymmetry when one is longer than the other.
The trim procedure and the wedge method are the two forms of labiaplasty. According to Lawrence, in a trim treatment, “the excess tissue is removed and stitched up immediately.” When a significant quantity of tissue has to be removed or when a patient requests that the dark, uneven margins of the labia minora be excised, leaving only pink tissue behind, this method is preferred.
The middle wedge of the labia minora, which is a triangular portion that looks “nearly like a slice of pizza,” is removed during the wedge surgery. According to Lawrence, “the benefits of this method include preservation of the natural edge architecture and a reduced scar.” “At the same time, more clitoral hood folds may also be decreased. The most common method of closure is absorbable sutures. Depending on the patient’s anatomy and aesthetic preferences, a certain procedure will be selected for them.
While the trim process leaves a scar along the edge, Lee observes that the wedge approach has “some benefits” since the scar is concealed. According to him, the wedge method “essentially doesn’t have a scar where you can see it.” “No matter where the scar is on the body, as plastic surgeons, we make every effort to try to camouflage or hide the scar.”
Why do some individuals get labiaplasties?
Many factors influence some people’s decision to get the operation. According to Herbenick, “women and other vulvar individuals may undergo labiaplasty for cosmetic reasons — e.g., to produce more symmetrical labia, to remove darkening margins if they personally have a “pink ideal,” or if they believe their labia are larger than they would like.”
Some individuals elect to get labiaplasty “to have more pleasant sex or to exercise more easily, since for some people their labia are sufficiently lengthy that they chafe when walking or exercising,” according to Herbenick.
The fact that “many women may feel self-conscious about their appearance in intimate settings,” as Lawrence also notes, “may influence them to get the procedure.” Additionally, she adds, “for women who have alterations to their labia after delivery, a labiaplasty may be included in their’mommy make-over,'” returning the vulva to its pre-childbirth form.
The media and pornography may also contribute to women’s decisions to undergo labiaplasty surgery. According to Herbenick, “We do know that certain women and others with vulvas are affected by media pictures of thinner labia.” And this is a vicious cycle in some respects. In order to sell their pictures or pornographic recordings in more markets, businesses may pick actresses with smaller labia or may digitally edit labia. This is because it may be deemed “obscene” in certain countries to see labia hanging down. Labia vary in a variety of forms, sizes, and colors, so that unfortunately gives the misleading impression that they tend to be little.
However, Lawrence claims that “improved access to both knowledge about the process and to the procedure itself” is to blame for the rise in labiaplasty surgery, rather than “a media-driven desire to appear a specific way.”
What dangers exist?
According to Lawrence, the risks of labia minora reduction surgery are generally “extremely modest.” According to Lawrence, complications might include asymmetry, slow wound healing, overcorrection or undercorrection of the labia, bleeding, hematoma, and infection.
The removal of too much tissue is “one of the most worrying hazards,” according to Lee. In his words, “This may happen if the physician is not skilled in doing this sort of treatment or is not a board-certified plastic surgeon. “If the tissue is taken too much, it might seem really strange, and it can’t really be replaced. Additionally, if the incisions are not made exactly, the labia may have an irregular form and not be smooth. Patients may also have labia asymmetry.
Finding a skilled surgeon is crucial, according to Lee, since it may help lower these risks. When choosing a plastic surgeon, he advises, “you really want to make sure the physician is experienced with this treatment,” even if they are board-certified. “When they are untrained or have never done one before, procedures go wrong.”
How long does recovery take?
According to Lawrence, most patients need a week off work to recuperate. During that time, they may lessen discomfort and swelling by icing using a cold pack inserted between the patient’s underwear and an elastic garment. “20 minutes on, 20 minutes off” might be used for this.
According to Lawrence, a trim labiaplasty often allows for a speedier recovery. According to her, residual swelling may take six months to go away even though the most deforming edema is usually gone by six weeks.
But according to Lee, after roughly a week, the majority of patients are able to return to an office-type work. After around 6 weeks after surgery, patients may resume typical activities, including exercise, intercourse, and using tampons.
What advantages does labiaplasty offer?
Lawrence notes that research shows labia minora labiaplasties have “high rates of overall satisfaction,” including “improved self-esteem,” and experts claim the benefits are both cosmetic and functional.
According to Herbenick, labiaplasty “may give both physical and psychological advantages if the size or form of someone’s labia was interfering with their sex life, exercise, or everyday walking.”
Nevertheless, there are hazards associated with the operation, and according to Herbenick, “patients should feel that they are completely aware of the various advantages and risks before making their decision.”