Labia Reduction (Labiaplasty)
Excessive or uneven development of a woman's labia minora (the "inner lips" of the female genitalia) can be a great source of embarrassment, functional hygiene problems and even discomfort in some women.
Enlarged or hypertrophic labia can result in local irritation, problems of personal hygiene during menses or after bowel movements, interference with sexual intercourse, and discomfort during cycling, walking, or sitting. In addition, excessively large labia minora or an uneven development between the two sides can cause significant embarrassment.
As our plastic surgical techniques to correct these problems have improved over time, aesthetic surgery of the female genitalia has become an increasingly common procedure performed by plastic surgeons. Dr. Wanzel has developed a significant reputation for this operation and is often asked by media outlets (eg. magazines, newspapers and television) for his opinion on the topic.
The Labia Reduction Procedure
Labium minora reduction (or "labiaplasty") is performed by two possible methods. The most common is simple and straight amputation of the protuberant segment and oversewing the edge. This technique has the lowest chance of wound healing complications and is the most powerful technique for reducing the size of the labia minor (ie. the "inner lips"). It is also the best technique for those with a pronounced asymmetry between the two sides. The other technique has been called the "wedge technique". It involves removing a central wedge of protuberant tissue (like a “piece of pie”). This results in a barely visible and short horizontal scar and is best suited to those with either small to moderate hypertrophy or those with a small "tongue" of excess tissue.
This procedure is always performed on an outpatient basis (ie. day surgery) and is most commonly performed under a local anaesthetic (although the option for a general anaesthetic is available). The advantages and disadvantages will be discussed at your consultation.
Recovery from a Labiaplasty
The procedure itself commonly takes less than an hour. There is some swelling for the first few days. And then a general "thickening" of the area for about 2-3 months. The sutures are all dissolving and tend to fall out after 10-14 days. You will need to apply Polysporin ointment and wear with a maxi pad or panty liner for the first 7-10 days. Walks for exercise are possible at about the 2 week mark. Jogging and more vigorous exercise is allowed at about 4 weeks. At 6 weeks, there are essentially no restrictions and sexual intercourse is permitted at that time. However, Dr. Wanzel will guide you through a customized recovery depending on your exact surgery and how the recovery process is progressing.
Risks of A Labiaplasty
Complications from labiaplasty surgery are thankfully quite uncommon. In addition to complications that can theoretically arise in any surgery, there are a few that are more specific to labial reductions. Delayed healing is rare, but it is the most common complication. Luckily, it almost always is solved by time and ends up looking perfectly fine when healed. Thickened scaring is almost never seen as this area of the body is exceptionally good for healing and the scars in this anatomic location are often imperceptible. Prolonged bleeding or a hematoma are possible, but very rare. Other complications include, but are not limited to infections (but the Polysporin and the oral antibiotic that Dr. Wanzel prescribes keeps the risk as low as possible) and asymmetries. Because Dr. Wanzel stays away from the clitoris and the high density of nerves in that location, decreased sensation or any dysesthesias are exceedingly rare.