by Dolores Kent, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.
Los Angeles Cosmetic Surgeon,
Dolores Kent, M.D., F.A.C.O.G.
Labiaplasty has become a very popular cosmetic procedure in our present culture of self-improvement and self-awareness.
As sexuality becomes a more comfortable area for women to explore, more topics surrounding sexuality and physical attributes are being discussed more critically and openly. This is because sex is no longer being considered something to hide under the cover of darkness or under the bed covers.
One of the areas of interest is the appearance and function of womens' pelvic organs. Many are self-conscious about the neatness and uniformity of their labia majora and minora. Women want to feel neat in their clothing and pretty all over. They consider themselves more desirable when they feel the security of symmetrically contoured labia. Women can now be outspoken about feeling comfortable with the appearance of their personal areas.
Cosmetic plastic surgeons have procedures to help in that regard. These procedures contour the outer lips of the vagina so that they are cosmetically appealing. Technically known as "labiaplasty," the operations include reshaping and trimming of the labia minora (the inner lips of the vagina), transferring the patient's own body fat to the labia majora (the outer lips), tightening the labia majora, trimming the clitoral hood, and repairing tears from childbirth.
Labiaplasty is designed for women who may have elongated labia minora, enlarged labia, loose labia, or uneven labia. Women often complain that the elongated labia get in the way of comfortable sex. For many, elongated labia cause embarrassment in swim and beachwear and other form-fitting clothing. Many also say their tissues are extremely irritated during bicycle or horseback riding, during some exercise routines, and for a few, even while sitting for long periods of time. They additionally feel that childbearing distorts their anatomy and that they no longer look like they did before delivering their children. (Read more about "mommy makeovers.")
Many surgical techniques are used to perform these procedures but they all revolve around making the labia more cosmetically appealing. Currently, laser labiaplasty is the most popular method because it allows for faster healing time, less blood loss, and more precise contouring. Trimming the excess skin around the clitoris can also be done; it's technically known as trimming of the prepuce. Excess skin over the clitoral hood can also be trimmed without affecting the sensitivity of the clitoris.
My patients are genuinely pleased, and even excited, when they see the results of their labiaplasties.
Many tell me, "I have been waiting so long to do this." Or, "I am so glad I finally decided to do this surgery." I also often hear: "It looks so much better than it did before - you have no idea!"
But, of course, I know exactly how much better it looks since I saw them before I performed the surgery. Another typical remark is: "My husband loves it. He said I was OK as I was and that I didn't need to do anything. But now he's happy that I had the surgery."
Vaginal Plastic Surgery
Labiaplasty is often performed with another cosmetic plastic pelvic procedure called vaginal rejuvenation wherein the vagina is tightened and repaired. The procedure can also be performed when patients elect to have other cosmetic surgical procedures like breast augmentation, tummy tuck, or liposuction. (Read more about vaginal rejuvenation.)
When combined with other procedures, labiaplasty is best performed under general anesthesia. But in many cases, labiaplasty alone can be performed under local anesthesia. The procedure usually takes about an hour, but may take longer depending on how much contouring is involved.
Beforehand, patients have the opportunity to discuss with me exactly how they want their labia to appear or what their greatest concerns may be. I also help them see where the appearance can be improved.
As you may imagine, patients opting for this type of surgery are delighted to have another woman as their surgeon. For one, the labia are in a delicate area and patients are very sensitive about it. And, when recovering, they need a great deal of support and comforting. Our office makes sure we are available for the patients' phone calls after the procedure. We find that this aftercare is as important a part of the recovery as performing proper surgical technique.
Of course, our patients are anxious to try out their new anatomy soon. So we are often asked, "How soon can I resume exercise?" "Can I go swimming?" Or "Can I go dancing?" Recovery takes six weeks and we insist that our patients observe our recommendations so that they get the best possible results. But once they see the changes in their labia, they are delighted and eager to wear clothing or swimwear they could not wear before with elongated labia.
We see a lot of satisfaction from performing this surgery. I find that it transforms many women's feeling of self-consciousness.
It makes unhappy normal patients happy again and more comfortable.