- 1 Labia reduction
- 2 Labiaplasty Costs
- 3 Labiaplasty Recovery
What is Labiaplasty?
Labiaplasty is one of several cosmetic surgeries that target the female genitalia. It corrects the visible portion of a woman’s genital area. It can reshape the labia minora (inner lips) and/or labia majora (outer hair-bearing lips), increase the fullness and plumpness of the labia majora, or reduce their size by removing excess fat or by cutting away pieces of the labial tissue.
Because the procedure is relatively new, statistics on how many procedures are performed in the United States are not yet available.
Although nothing is medically wrong with larger inner or outer labia, many women in our culture find this unappealing or uncomfortable, and it shakes their self-confidence and self-esteem. Women who seek labiaplasty complain of labia overgrowth, asymmetry, elongation and discomfort during sexual activity or when wearing tight-fitting clothing. These complaints have several sources: genetics, sexual activity, hormones, pregnancy and childbirth and/or aging.
Good candidates for labiaplasty typically are unhappy with the appearance of their vulva and wish that they could change some part of it. They should be in relatively good health, have good skin tone and be able to follow their surgeon’s pre- and post-operative guidelines. They should have realistic goals and be in a balanced state of mental health.
One of the principal benefits of a labiaplasty is an improved sense of beauty. Women who are self-conscious about the appearance of their genital areas when they are naked or wear tight-fitting clothing can feel more confident in intimate settings. Additionally, some women get relief from physical pain and discomfort through labiaplasty surgery.
Finding a Labiaplasty Surgeon
The most important decision you will make regarding your labiaplasty is finding the right surgeon to perform the procedure. Use our Surgeon Locator to look for labiaplasty surgeons in your area. Read their profiles and view their before-and-after photo galleries.
Many surgeons offer free consultations, others charge for them, and some apply the cost of the consultation toward surgery. Take a copy of your medical history to the consultation, including all serious illnesses, major surgeries and prescribed and over-the-counter medications and supplements.
The physical examination will establish whether you are a good candidate for labiaplasty surgery. The surgeon will discuss possible labiaplasty techniques possibilities for additional procedures.
Your surgeon will also give you an overview of what to expect before, during and after recovery. You’ll learn what activities you will avoid and for how long, and how much pain and discomfort you are likely to experience.
If you feel confident that the doctor is a good fit for you, schedule your labiaplasty surgery when you are ready. However, if you remain unsure, take time to think about it and visit other doctors.
As you study this website, make notes of what to ask your labiaplasty surgeon during your consultation:
- His or her background and experience
- If you are a good candidate for labiaplasty and/or other female genital surgery
- Possible results, side effects, complications, and risks
- How much pain you can expect and how it will be managed
- The costs of surgery
- What to expect before, during and after recovery
Labiaplasty surgeons have found new ways of getting safer and more beautiful results, and they have pioneered a number of labia reduction techniques to help patients who suffer from the physical and psychological issues that can come with having over-sized labia and deformities of the female genitalia. Labia reduction is growing in popularity now that more surgeons are trained and skilled to perform labia reduction procedures. Your surgeon can explain the various techniques that can be used to correct your labial issues.
Labia Majora Reduction
This procedure is well suited for reducing the size of overly fatty or puffy labia majora (the outer, hair-bearing lips). Several techniques can be used to achieve the desired results.
Liposuction: The surgeon uses liposuction and liposculpture to remove excess fat in the outer lips, which helps them appear smaller, more streamlined and more attractive. The doctor might suggest a mons pubis reduction as well because the mons pubis and the labia majora are connected, and changing one without the other can sometimes cause visual imbalance.
Labia excision: The surgeon can excise parts of the outer lips to tighten loose and wrinkled skin. This is more invasive and takes longer to recover. The surgeon usually uses an elliptical pattern to remove tissue from the inside part of the labia majora, and the incision is hidden in the valley between the labia majora and the labia minora. Sometimes referred to as a Brazilian labiaplasty, the procedure leaves no external scars, preserves genital sensation and looks natural.
Labia Minora Reduction
Trim method: The trim method reduces the size and length of the labia minora or inner lips. A surgeon removes a strip of skin running along the entire line of each of the inner lips, removing the edge portion of each of the labia minora. The method is used for women who are unhappy with the dark, discolored or rough nature of their inner labia. However, what is a benefit for some can be a drawback for others. Because the procedure removes the rough, rugated outer edge of the labia minora, it can make the labia appear artificial, especially if the new labial edge is unnaturally smooth. This procedure can be used in combination with a clitoral hood reduction because the surgery runs up and down the entire length of the labia minora, and the surgeon can perform both procedures with a single incision. This reduces trauma and increases a patient’s ability to heal and recover quickly. Critics of this procedure point out that while easy to perform, it can also be easy to overdo and remove too much of the lip.
Wedge method: A wedge-shaped piece of tissue is removed from the middle third of the inner labia then the inner lips are sutured together, creating a smaller profile. This technique allows for the labia to be reduced without cutting off the outer edge, thereby retaining the natural edge of the inner lip. The wedge method will not remove dark or discolored patches. One benefit of the wedge technique is that the scar doesn’t run the entire length of the labia. A risk is that the labia can become distorted as they are healing because of pulling on the skin. Also, the risk of the wound reopening is somewhat higher in the wedge technique than in the trim technique.
Laser Labia Reduction
Some people seek this surgery because they wish to reduce the size of their lips. Others seek it because they want to remove areas of hyperpigmentation (darker color). A surgeon can use a surgical laser to remove darker skin and return the labia to a more uniform color. The use of a surgical laser results in less trauma to the tissues, and it helps to control bleeding. Laser surgery can help the surgery go more quickly, which can minimize the amount of stress the body goes through, which can reduce the chances of anesthesia-related problems. Critics of the laser surgical technique suggest your results might not look as natural because the laser cannot reproduce the natural rugation (or ruffled edges) of the inner labia as well as traditional tools can.
While some women wish their outer labia were smaller and less attention-grabbing, some wish that their outer lips were fuller. In this labiaplasty technique, an injectable is used to help “puff up” the area. The most common substance to inject is fat that has been harvested from another area of the body, such as the abdomen or thighs, using liposuction. This procedure is not permanent. The fat that is transferred tends to gradually reabsorb into the body requiring it to be repeated. With artificial injectables, chances of reabsorption might be lower, but there might be other side effects, which your surgeon will discuss with you.
Complications, though rare, can develop during the healing process and lead to deformations in the labia.
A second or revision labiaplasty can be performed to fix or refine the results of the first procedure. Doctors’ policies on revisions vary. Some surgeons treat a revision labiaplasty as a separate surgery and accept no responsibility for patient dissatisfaction. Others offer free revisions if certain conditions are met. Others offer their services for free but require the patient to pay for fees such as renting the surgical center and anesthesia. If a truly poor job has been done, the patient might want to go elsewhere for a revision, even if she has to pay for the whole thing. A revision labiaplasty can treat a number of different conditions, but it cannot create tissue where too much tissue has been removed.
Revision labiaplasty typically takes less time and is less complicated because only minor alterations are required. In situations where a previous surgery caused problems or deformations, or where the results were far from the patient’s desires, a revision labiaplasty might take longer and be more expensive than the original.
Surgeons usually require the patient to wait several months before attempting a revision because it lets the patient completely heal before re-opening the wounds.
The costs associated with labiaplasty surgery can vary greatly from patient to patient and from surgeon to surgeon. Each patient has unique physical characteristics associated with labia surgery, therefore it is hard to provide accurate costs online. As a very rough cost estimate for a labiaplasty procedure could range from $3,000 to $9,000, but it could also increase if you have multiple procedures performed at the same time. Base your decision on getting the results that you desire and finding a qualified surgeon to perform your labiaplasty surgery.
The total price tag associated with your surgery will depend on a number of factors, including:
- Surgeon’s experience: Typically, the best surgeons experience high demand and are able to ask higher prices, although a large price tag does not translate to a talented surgeon.
- Geography: Surgeons in larger metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and New York City tend to have high price tags on cosmetic procedures. Likewise, plastic surgery performed in large urban centers frequently cost more than suburban or rural areas.
- Anesthesia and facility costs: You will pay for anesthesia and the anesthesiologist together, and the facility, surgical suite or operating room. You can expect the price to range between $500 to $1,000 for each.
- Time: A longer surgery requires more of the surgeon’s time and use of the facility where the surgery is taking place. Consequently, the costs will increase, incrementally.
- Techniques: The latest advances in technology, instruments and labiaplasty methods may increase the costs if utilized to perform your surgery.
- Consultation: Some surgeons charge for the consultation, then apply the fees toward labiaplasty surgery if you schedule a procedure. Other surgeons do not charge for the initial consultation. Ask your surgeon if you will be billed for a consultation when you call to schedule an appointment.
- Incidentals: You might need to pay for blood work and other tests, medications and medical supplies. When you meet with a surgeon for a consultation, ask what you can expect to pay for these items.
Labiaplasty And Insurance
Given that labiaplasty is most often an elective and cosmetic procedure, insurance typically will not cover it. However, if your surgery is meant to have functional and health-related effects, your insurance could help. You will need to check with the insurance company before scheduling the procedure and provide all relevant paperwork, such as a physician’s report stating the medical necessity. If your insurance company approves to pay for the procedure, get it in writing.
Labiaplasty Payment Plans And Financing
If you can’t afford the cost of your surgery in one lump sum, you’re certainly not alone. Many surgical practices offer in-house financing or they will refer you to lending institutions that offer to finance for elective medical procedures. You might also do an Internet search for “financing cosmetic surgery” to apply online for credit before scheduling the surgery.
Labiaplasty and Medical Tourism
With the proliferation of the Internet, medical tourism has become an interesting option for people in the United States, especially when it comes to elective cosmetic procedures. The allure of an exotic location for cosmetic surgery is tempting. We cannot advise for or against seeking a procedure in another country, but we can offer these points to consider:
- Traveling right after labiaplasty surgery is generally not advised. You will be required to sit long periods, which could irritate the surgical site and increase pain.
- You will need to arrange for food and lodging for several days or weeks after your surgery. If you do not have a friend or relative with whom to stay, this could get expensive.
- Physicians in other countries might not be held to the same standards that physicians in the U.S. are, even if the physician was educated in the U.S.
- A surgeon who is closer to home is more ideal than one that is an ocean away.
The guidelines that your labiaplasty surgeon and his or her medical staff give you are your road map to a healthy recovery. If you follow them, you will recover more quickly and more beautifully than if you ignore them or only half-heartedly follow them. Here are tips to maximize your results and minimize your recovery:
- Carry a small pillow or cushion with you to sit on for comfort, following the surgery.
- Ask your surgeon about using ice to combat swelling and relieve pain.
- Rest will give your body energy to heal, and it will reduce pain and irritation.
- Minimize friction by wearing loose and baggy clothing.
- Avoid thong or bikini brief-style underwear, and avoid tight-fitting clothes like leotards and tight jeans.
- Follow your surgeon’s instructions about cleaning your surgical site.
- Discharge after labiaplasty surgery is normal; gently clean it away often and don’t let it accumulate.
- Avoid hot baths or extreme heat for at least first week or so after labiaplasty.
- You might want to use a stool softener during early healing.
- The sutures commonly used during a labiaplasty gradually dissolve with time in about 10 days.
- Arrange your home to have what you might need after surgery: clean linens and towels, sanitary napkins, ice packs, comfortable clothes, dressings, and compression garments and medications.
Whether or not your surgeon expressly restricts air flight, it is typically not a good idea to fly just after any surgery.
Labiaplasty Recovery Timeline
|Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4||Month 2||Month 3||Month 4||Month 5|
|Pain/tenderness||Strongest||Stronger||Strong||Mild||Little to none|
|Bruising & swelling||Strongest||Stronger||Mild||Little to none|
|Scarring||Strong (upon close inspection)||Mild||
Little to none
|Activity (always follow your doctor’s orders)||Short walks, no lifting||Desk work, non-strenuous labor, no heavy housework such as vacuuming||
On the advice of your physician
No lifting, no jogging, no aerobics, no power walking, no bicycling
Avoid sexual intercourse
|Resume sexual activity gently and on your physician’s advice|
Do not use tampons
|Resume using tampons as your physician allows|
Labia Surgery vs Other Vaginal Surgeries
Labiaplasty is specifically meant to improve the form, appearance, and function of the labia. Other cosmetic surgery options target other parts of the female genitals, and most of them can be performed at the same time as labiaplasty.
- Mons pubis liposuction: The mons pubis is the mound of fatty tissue that lies just above the pubic bone in women, and it is a shock absorber that protects the pubic bone during intercourse. Weight gain and loss and pregnancy can cause changes in the mons pubis, making it loose, sagging or enlarged, which some women feel make them look masculine. Liposuction can remove excess fat.
- Pubic lift: A pubic lift removes excess skin above the pubic area, lifting and tightening the surrounding skin, and closing the incision with fine stitches.
- Clitoral hood reduction/hoodectomy: This procedure is sometimes performed to improve the aesthetic appearance of the vulva. More commonly, it is functional in nature, intended to increase sexual response. If performed properly, this can help a woman experience greater sexual arousal and an increased ability to climax. Clitoral hood reduction should not be confused with clitoridectomy (the surgical removal of the clitoris), which is a form of female genital mutilation that is designed to reduce female sexual desire and enjoyment. A hoodectomy is designed to increase a woman’s enjoyment of her sexual life.
- Perineoplasty: The perineum refers to the area between a woman’s vagina and her anus. A perineoplasty (also known as perineorrhaphy) is a surgery that is often done to repair damage to the perineum, which can be caused by childbirth or severe weight gain. Another form of perineoplasty has the opposite goal: to loosen an overly tight vagina. Women who experience dyspareunia (more commonly known as painful intercourse) and vaginismus (the involuntary contraction of the pelvic muscles) can sometimes get relief through a perineoplasty.
- Augmentation of G-spot/G-spot enlargement: G-spot enlargement (also known as augmentation of the G-spot or the G-shot) aims to make that mysterious spot (on the anterior side of the vagina where the urethra is nearest to the vaginal wall) easier to find and stimulate. An injection of collagen or some other filler is introduced into the area, causing the G-spot to increase in size, theoretically increasing pleasure during sexual activity. Results from the injection are temporary.
- Hymenoplasty: A hymenoplasty (also called a hymenorrhaphy) is a surgery that alters or reshapes the hymen, which is the fold of mucous membrane that surrounds or partially covers the vaginal opening. This includes the procedure of hymenotomy (also known as hymenectomy), which is designed to remove or open the hymen, especially when a girl has a hymen without an opening that causes difficulty during menstruation. It is also sometimes performed when a woman has a hymen that is particularly thick or rigid or has a particularly small opening.
- Vaginal rejuvenation/vaginoplasty: Vaginoplasty and labiaplasty are sometimes incorrectly used to mean the same thing. While labiaplasty alters the appearance and function of the visible parts of a woman’s vagina, vaginoplasty (also called vaginal rejuvenation) alters the tone and size of a woman’s vagina. It is a procedure that is designed to tighten the vaginal opening and increase sexual sensation and satisfaction during intercourse by increasing the amount of friction. The surgery may be performed with a laser or scalpel.
- Laser resurfacing: CO2 lasers have long been used to help get rid of venereal warts and skin tags in the female genital area. They also have been used to treat pre-cancerous lesions on the vulva, vagina, and cervix. In more recent times, surgeons have begun to use lasers for more aesthetic reasons, such as “resurfacing” and smoothing the skin of the vulva by eliminating or minimizing bumps and other abnormalities. In addition to smoothing skin, these lasers can reduce scarring, tighten the skin, reduce sagging and increase collagen production.