Labiaplasty is a procedure performed to reduce and reshape the labia majora and labia minora. While there is a wide range of what constitutes a “normal” size and appearance to these structures, they occasionally can become enlarged due to congenital factors, age, and significant weight loss. Reduction and reshaping of the labia can reduce functional problems (infections, irritation, etc.) as well as improve the overall appearance.
Plastic Surgeon or OB/GYN?
When choosing a surgeon for this procedure, many patients are confused as to whether they should see a plastic surgeon or their OB/GYN physician. Actually, there are surgeons within both fields that are very capable of performing this operation with excellent results. Plastic surgeons gain a great understanding of the anatomic considerations in this area as we are often called upon to perform reconstructive surgery following ablative surgery for cancer, repair of traumatic injuries, etc. In addition, we bring to this our sense of cosmetic considerations, recognizing that it is not enough to simply remove some troublesome tissue but also to do so in such a way that is cosmetically acceptable.
As the procedure of labiaplasty has evolved in recent years there have been excellent contributions made by both Plastic Surgeons and OB/GYN’s. The key to a good outcome is choosing a surgeon that understands the nuances of the procedure and takes an interest in performing it well.
If your gynecologic concerns go beyond the external genitalia we will collaborate with a gynecologist to manage your case for the best possible care.
Reduction of the labia minora, whether for cosmetic or functional reasons, can be done under local anesthesia in our office or as an outpatient procedure with general anesthesia. During this procedure a wedge of the excess tissue is excised, reducing the overall size of the labia and leaving sensitive and functional structures intact. Incisions are placed so that scars will lie in areas where they are least visible. The procedure takes about 1 hour.
We have performed reduction and reshaping of the labia majora most frequently in our massive weight loss patients. After weight loss, there may be redundant skin and fatty tissue that impairs hygiene and results in an unattractive appearance. Correction of this may involve a “lift” of the entire pubic area, liposuction, removal of excess skin, or a combination of these procedures. This is performed in the operating room under a general anesthetic and can take 1-2 hours.
Recovery time varies depending on the particular procedure performed. Most patients will require strong pain medications for 1-2 days and can return to work in 3-7 days. Sutures placed during the operation are the dissolving type that does not need to be removed.