Labiaplasty involves reducing the labia minora which are the inner lips of the external opening of the vagina. As women age, under the influence of hormones and especially with the vaginal delivery following pregnancy; the appearance, size and shape of the labia may change significantly. The labia also vary in colour. These changes over time and differences between women are normal.
Some women experience bothersome symptoms from their labia including discomfort or irritation, especially in tight or body hugging clothes or with certain activities such as bicycle riding, horse riding, exercise and other activities. They may also be subject to social embarrassment in gym clothes or with their partners. Labiaplasty alters the external appearance and reduces the symptoms associated with excessive labial tissue by reducing or reshaping the labia minora.
The operation itself generally takes about 1 hour and usually requires a general anaesthetic or sedation (as a day case). The excess labial tissue is excised and the wound is closed with dissolvable sutures. The scars are inconspicuous and usually become unnoticeable over time. Labiaplasty has become more common over recent years due to greater awareness of its availability.
No two women are the same. If you are unhappy or embarrassed by the look or feel of your vagina, then a labiaplasty procedure may help you.
Some mild discomfort is normal, as is swelling, bruising and mild bleeding or spotting after the operation. Oral analgesics such as Panadol and anti-inflammatory medications sold over the counter should be adequate. Some patients find it useful to use sanitary pads in the first week and icepacks can be used on the area for the first 48 hours. Warm, salt-water baths may also provide some relief in the first few days after surgery. Tampons should be avoided and sexual activity adjusted for the first few weeks after surgery. You may return to sexual intercourse after 4 weeks.
Patients should avoid straining and prevent constipation following the surgery by drinking plenty of water and if necessary taking stool softeners or high fibre diets. Codeine and other medications which increase constipation should be avoided.
Most women take a week or so off from work after the operation but some are back at ‘office’ jobs within a few days. Gym activities should be avoided for at least 2-3 weeks. Gradually, you can return to more normal activities over the next few weeks as you feel comfortable.