The labia (vaginal lips) are the most visible part of a woman’s sexual anatomy, so it is only natural to feel self-conscious about their appearance. Labiaplasty is a cosmetic surgery designed to enhance or reduce the labia minora (the smaller, inner vaginal lips), and/or the labia majora (the larger, outer vaginal lips), to improve appearance and help you feel more confident in your intimate relationships. Most frequently, labiaplasty describes the reduction of elongated inner labia (labial reduction). However, the surgical procedure can also involve enlarging or reducing the outer labia.
While cosmetic appearance is one of the primary reasons that women decide to have this type of surgery, it is also ideal for women who suffer from elongated or enlarged labial tissue, excess tissue surrounding the clitoris, discomfort during intercourse, decreased sexual stimulation, repeated infections, hygiene issues, or asymmetrical labia minora. Beyond the physical concerns, worrying about appearing “normal” can undermine your self-confidence, especially as it relates to your sexual relationships. At Hess and Sandeen, our board-certified plastic surgeons perform labiaplasty and will work with you to create a look that achieves your cosmetic goals.
Different Labiaplasty Methods
When talking about ways to perform labiaplasty, it is important to understand what part of the labia is being altered, the labia minora or majora. There are several techniques for labia minora reduction. The two most common are the trim method and the wedge method. Our plastic surgeons are experienced in both techniques.
The trim method involves trimming away excess tissue along the entire length of the vaginal opening to shorten the labia minora. The advantage of this technique is that it is very versatile, allowing your surgeon to remove as much or little tissue as can safely be removed. In addition, the tissue along the entire labia can be addressed in just one incision, including the clitoral hood and posterior tissues near the posterior fourchette. The trim procedure also addresses the darkening of the labial edge, which is a concern for many women. A trim labiaplasty removes this darker portion completely and creates a more uniformly pink edge. However, some women feel the loss of this edge is a disadvantage as the look is less “natural.” Others worry that it can lead to a loss or lessening of sensation. If you have any concerns, we are happy to discuss your options with you.
A wedge resection procedure removes a pie-shaped piece of tissue from the middle third of the inner labia instead, preserving the front edge of the labia minora. One of the advantages of wedge labiaplasty is that less tissue is removed and by preserving the edge, it can result in a more natural appearance. Disadvantages of this option can include multiple incisions if the clitoral hood and posterior tissues need adjustment. In addition, scar placement is in the middle of the labia and therefore can be more visible.
When done correctly, both types of procedures tend to heal very well, leave minimal scars, and preserve as much sensation as possible. Less common types of labiaplasty address enlarged labia majora through the use of liposuction or excision. Although we more often perform surgery on the labia minora, we do offer labia majora reduction.