Female intimate surgery (labiaplasty, labial reduction & vulval surgery)
A labiaplasty is surgery to reduce the size of the labia minora which are the flaps of skin either side of the vaginal opening. The labia majora can also be reduced either in combination or isolation. However, labial minora reduction is far more commonly performed.
It's natural and normal for a woman to have noticeable skin folds around her vaginal opening and, in most cases, this doesn't cause any problems. It is also normal for women to have asymmetry, that is, one side larger or differently shaped compared to the other side. This is very common and is in itself not necessarily a reason to pursue surgery as it is within the normal variation of how women are.
What problems can enlarged labia cause?
Significantly enlarged labia can cause issues such as irritation, soreness, difficulty wearing underwear and close fitting clothing, difficulty exercising and problems during intercourse. Enlarged labia may also affect self-esteem and confidence leading to problems engaging in intimate relationships.
What does labiaplasty involve?
The procedure involves shortening or reshaping the vaginal lips. There are two main techniques used by surgeons. The first and more traditional way is to trim along the entire edge of the vaginal lips (trimming method). The second is the wedge technique. Mr Adamthwaite uses his own modified and improved wedge technique which in his experience produces superior results and has significantly fewer complications than the trimming method.
The major drawback of the trimming method is that it produces a full length scar which is more likely to lead to issues with sensitivity and discomfort on intercourse. The wedge technique minimises this scarring and also through the modification Mr Adamthwaite is able to maintain volume and fullness of the labia which produces a more pleasing and youthful appearance. There is also the opportunity to safely reduce excess skin and tissue around the clitoris using this modified wedge technique without the need for any incisions involving the clitoral hood itself which can lead to problems.
Does a labiaplasty require a general anaesthetic?
A labiaplasty can be performed using either a general anaesthetic (asleep) or a local anaesthetic (awake). Both options produce excellent results and it is purely a matter of patient choice unless someone has a medical reason where it is preferable to have the procedure awake.
How long does the labiaplasty procedure take?
The whole procedure takes about an hour and the majority of people are able to go home the same day (day case).
What is the recovery like from labiaplasty?
You may need to take some time off work to recover and final healing is expected after two to three weeks but can take several weeks. During this time it is important to:
1. Shower the area each day and use an antiseptic ointment to help keep the area clean and free from infection
2. Avoid taking a bath for two weeks
3. Use loose fitting underwear and clothing to prevent irritation
4. Wait six weeks before sexual intercourse
5. Also it is advisable to use sanitary towels instead of tampons for the first few weeks
What are the possible risks and complications of labiaplasty?
In Mr Adamthwaite's experience, using his preferred technique, the labiaplasty procedure is very safe and reliable at producing excellent outcomes. It’s typical after a labiaplasty to have soreness, bruising and swelling for up to two weeks. The labia majora can swell also. Passing urine and sitting during this time can be uncomfortable and you are provided with painkillers which help keep this well-controlled.
As with any surgical procedure there are risks associated with it. A labiaplasty can occasionally result in problems including bleeding, infection, reduced or increased sensitivity of the genitals and delayed healing. Mr Adamthwaite will go through this and other potential risks with you in detail in clinic. All types of operation carry a small risk of developing a blood clot in a vein or experiencing an allergic reaction to the anaesthetic. However, this is a relatively short procedure where you are immediately up and about and mobilising and so the risk of clots is extremely small.
Who shouldn't have a labiaplasty?
A labiaplasty should in general only be performed on women older than 18 who are appropriate candidates and have had sufficient time to fully consider and understand the procedure, potential complications and the likely results. Consideration below this age would only be in exceptional circumstances where the patient's health is being significantly harmed by a significant abnormality.