What is labiaplasty?
Labiaplasty is a surgical operation to reduce the size and protuberance of the labia minora. Nowadays, an extended wedge labiaplasty is available and it is performed by plastic surgeons. In previous decades, gynaecologists sometimes amputated the most prominent edge of the labia minora with a large pair of scissors! This produced poor cosmesis and scarring at the introitus, which then caused pain on intercourse (or dysparunia) – a poor operation.
Extended wedge labiaplasty can be performed for purely cosmetic reasons, but this is seldom the case. Most ladies pursuing labiaplasty have localised and sometimes asymmetric enlargement of their labia, either as an inherited trait or after repeated childbirth. This will predictably produce self-consciousness in addition to an array of symptoms including:
- Unable to wear tight clothes, especially tights or swimwear due to the bulge;
- Hygiene problems (it may be more difficult to clean or be more exposed;
- Irritation – they can rub together even just walking or moving, and can be especially troublesome when doing activities such as going to the gym or riding a bike or horse riding;
- Pain and discomfort (not to mention embarrassment) during any sexual activities
Dr McGovern says there is now a lot less stigma attached to this type of surgery and women are relieved to have a surgical option to alleviate any physical issues, and help with the social/psychological ones as well. He says, “The best candidates for Labiaplasty are healthy, emotionally stable women who are realistic about what the surgery can accomplish. If you’re planning to have more children, it may be a good idea to postpone your surgery until after your last child.”
The labiaplasty procedure
A labiaplasty procedure usually takes around an hour under general anesthesia. Dr McGovern says labiaplasty with him at VIE Institute will take place in a hospital as a day procedure.
Dr McGovern says it’s essential to be completely honest and direct from the start with your surgeon in order to get the best results. “It’s important to discuss your expectations frankly with your surgeon, and to listen to his opinion. Every patient has a different view of what is desirable. Your surgeon should describe the procedure in detail, explaining its risks and limitations and making sure you understand the scarring that will result. He should also explain the anaesthesia to be used, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, and the costs involved. Don’t hesitate to ask him any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results. Ensure that you are consulting with a specialist plastic surgeon.”
Katie shared her story with us about her and her sister’s labiaplasty at VIE Institute and their relief at its success. “When I reached puberty at around 12 years old I noticed that my labia minora protruded quite significantly and that it didn’t look quite ‘normal’. At the time the appearance didn’t really bother me; it wasn’t until I started experiencing discomfort such as chafing, or when wearing particular types of clothing (such as tight jeans) or participating in different forms of exercise (such as bike riding) that I started to take particular notice of the discomfort that it caused. Due to embarrassment I didn’t tell anyone about the discomfort I was feeling until I was about 16.
“When I first told my mother she didn’t really understand what I was talking about and said something along the lines of, ‘It can’t be that bad’. This reaction only caused further embarrassment and made me feel even more abnormal so again I didn’t talk to anybody about my problem for several years. Eventually at about 19 years old my younger sister and I were talking and discovered that we both shared the same problem. My sister and I both underwent the procedure on the same day. Both my sister and I are extremely happy with the results – we were both quite shocked when we saw the pre-operative photos in comparison to how we look now. There is no longer any discomfort when I exercise and I can wear all types of clothing (even tight denim jeans!). The scarring is minimal and will only improve with time.”
Dr McGovern says patient satisfaction with this procedure is extremely high. “Our patients report a huge improvement in their self esteem, and an elevated level of physical and emotional satisfaction.”
If you’d like to arrange a consultation with Dr Mark McGovern at the VIE Institute phone them on (07) 5479 2922, or if you’d like to read more about labiaplasty or Dr McGovern first check out the blogs below.