Labiaplasty, surgery to reshape the female genitalia and in particular the inner labia, is the world’s fastest-growing cosmetic surgery procedure, reveals a recent study from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS).
In 2016, the number of labiaplasty procedures jumped 45% from 2015, and between 2000 and 2013, labiaplasty procedures performed in Australia under Medicare increased from 444 to 1,605, representing a more than three-fold increase.
It’s believed more women undergo the procedure through the private sector, however, and so it’s predicted the number of patients for labiaplasty surgeries are even greater than the data available would indicate.
So, what actually is labiaplasty, and what does the procedure entail? All of your questions are answered right here.
What is labiaplasty?
Also referred to as labia majora or minora surgery or labia reduction surgery, labiaplasty is a cosmetic procedure that surgically reduces the inner folds of the female labia.
The appearance of womens’ labia or vaginal lips area vary greatly. Labia comes in all matter of shapes and sizes; each is normal and healthy, and there is certainly no one ideal length or look. That said, someone may look into labiaplasty if they are displeased by the appearance of their own or are experiencing discomfort in the area.
Why would someone get labiaplasty?
There are two main reasons why a woman may consider undergoing labiaplasty surgery. For some, large labial folds can cause discomfort during certain activities or when tight clothes are worn.
Friction is a common issue during physical activities like running, bike riding, or horse riding, and sex can become painful if the labia become tucked into the vagina. Tight clothes like swimwear, activewear or G-strings may also cause great discomfort.
Women may otherwise consider labiaplasty purely for cosmetic reasons. Whether the labia is uneven or longer than they’d wish, a gynecologist or plastic surgeon may be able to change labial appearance according to that patient’s ideal.
Pros and cons of labiaplasty
Reduced discomfort is the main benefit for women seeking labiaplasty for more clinical reasons. Cosmetically, undergoing labiaplasty can result in increased sexual confidence, improved quality of life and self–esteem benefits.
All surgical procedures carry inherent risk, and in the case of labiaplasty, some potential complications include those associated with general anaesthetic, risks of post-operative infection or clots, bruising, swelling, bleeding, slow recovery, scarring, and dissatisfaction with the outcome.
Other cited risks include vaginal dryness, painful sex, and higher chances of vaginal tearing if you have a natural birth in the future.
Labiaplasty risks are rare, though, as the skin in the area is flexible and quick to heal. Antibiotics are administered at a preventative level to reduce operational risks.
What to expect from labiaplasty surgery
A preliminary consultation will help you decide if labiaplasty is right for you. Any areas of concern will be discussed with your surgeon and they’ll talk you through the risks associated. If you wish to proceed, you’ll undergo the labiaplasty procedure whereby your surgeon will trim the labia and apply dissolvable stitches to close the wounds. As a day patient, you’ll be discharged from hospital some two hours later.
For the first two days post-op, pain relief medications and a labial cool pack will help to reduce swelling. Initial scarring should heal within a week and you’ll check in with your surgeon at the one or two week mark.
Stitches will fall out between one and four weeks after surgery, and normal activity that includes sex can resume after four or six weeks. All swelling should be gone after six weeks, which is when the final cosmetic outcome will be judged.
It is advised you take a week off work and commit to loose clothing in recovery time.
How much does labiaplasty cost
Under certain conditions, and when the procedure is carried out not for cosmetic or aesthetic reasons, labiaplasty surgery may be covered partially by Medicare and private health insurance rebates.
Labiaplasty costs in Australia may sit around the $4,900 mark without Medicare, excluding initial consultation fee.