Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure that has seen a rapid growth in popularity in the UK and elsewhere. However, what exactly is this procedure, who is it suitable for and what are the benefits?
In this post, leading Consultant Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeon Anca Breahna explains all.
What Exactly Is A Labiaplasty
A labiaplasty also goes by the names designer vagina or vaginal rejuvenation and these perhaps go some way towards explaining what the procedure is for.
The surgery modifies the labia minora (inner lips) and / or the labia majora (outer lips) – most commonly it is on the former, the folds of skin closest to the clitoris.
When someone’s labia are too long the procedure can be suitable – too long either in purely aesthetic terms or because the length causes discomfort, potentially during sexual intercourse or exercise.
While no two women’s labias are the same and there is certainly no single perfect size or shape, that isn’t to say the length cannot be problematic, either physically or psychologically.
In common with other cosmetic surgery, labiaplasty addresses the physical but salves the psychological: i.e. has the potential to boost self-esteem and tackle negative self-image.
Who Is A Labiaplasty Suitable For?
For those with physical discomfort, a labiaplasty can have a profound impact. Some women find the labia can get forced into the vagina during sex and this can lead to tearing of the vulva skin.
Often, physical exercise is also painful, especially swimming (with a restrictive bathing suit), running and cycling. Ageing can also have an impact, so too childbirth – both can lead to changes that make labiaplasty an option to be considered.
It is not uncommon for women to seek this surgery for aesthetic reasons, the length of the labia creating a vagina they deem undesirable.
The fact that results are relatively easy to predict means that any woman undergoing labiaplasty surgery can have a high degree of confidence as to how their vagina will look post-surgery.
This certainty leads to high satisfaction rates: a 2014 survey finding 91% of women were happier with the appearance of their vagina post-surgery.
Any patient’s suitability would be discussed at a detailed consultation but, for those for whom a labiaplasty is a good option, the satisfaction rates are extremely high.
What is the Labiaplasty Procedure?
Depending on the individual patient, different approaches can be used.
A straight line reduction of the redundant tissue can be performed, alternatively a V-shaped cut to reduce the overall length of the labia. The procedure is usually performed under local anaesthetic.
It is, of course, impossible to say which technique would be more suited to any case without consultation. That is the benefit of a thorough consultation though – it is the opportunity for the prospective patient to talk through their aims for surgery and why they think the procedure might be of benefit to them.
The surgeon can perform a through medical check and ascertain whether surgery is the best option. They can then outline the method they would recommend and the results achievable.
It’s Rising In Popularity, but How Popular Is It?
Despite the media’s obsession with celebrities getting ‘designer vaginas’, labiaplasty is, and will likely remain, short of the popularity of some other cosmetic procedures, for instance breast implants.
However, this is largely because it is not an issue that affects as many women; the vast majority of women are happy with the size and shape of their labia.
However, this does not make the surgery any less beneficial for those who aren’t happy with their labia or have physical discomfort. As with any surgery, it is only worth considering in the cases where it addresses a problem, be that aesthetic, psychological, physical or any combination of these.
In the UK, there are now thousands of labiaplasty procedures performed per year and in the United States this rises to a five-digit total.
With high rates of satisfaction and a relatively low price, these figures are likely to rise further still.
What is the cost of a labiaplasty?
Compared to many other cosmetic procedures, labiaplasty is very affordable – of course what is affordable for any two people potentially being very different.
However, it is typically a surgery that many women can afford and with quick, predictable results it can be money that leads to near-instant benefits.
As surgery caries among individuals, we would first undertake a consultation before being able to assess accurately cost
What is the After Care and Recovery Time For Labiaplasty?
Any patient would have a follow-up appointment or series of appointments.
Some swelling, bruising and potential discomfort is to be expected post-surgery and swelling may last a number of days. Many patients choose to book up to a week off work to have a relaxed recovery at home.
Any patient will usually be able to return to most activities inside four to six weeks, swelling will usually have passed inside six weeks though in some cases it may persist for a few months.
Antibiotics and mild pain-killers are usually prescribed.
The exact nature of after care and what to expect would always be discussed in detailed consultation.
As with any cosmetic procedure, a consultation should always be booked. The consultation is not the surgeon trying to sell the procedure, it is a detailed conversation and examination to see if it is truly the best option – it is common for consultation to not then lead to surgery, no surgeon wants to operate on someone when it is not in their best medical interests.
Anca Breahna is a renowned female surgeon who has held prestigious Fellowships and been consultant surgeon at world-leading institutions.
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