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Plastic surgery on the lips (labia) surrounding the vagina is called labiaplasty. It may be done in combination with vaginoplasty, which tightens the vaginal canal, or other vaginal "rejuvenation" procedures.

The outer part of the female reproductive organ (genitalia) is made of two sets of lips - the outer lips (labia majora), which are larger, and the inner lips (labia minora), which are smaller. Some women feel they have unsightly outer genitalia because of childbirth, sexual intercourse, genetic factors, or aging.

Labiaplasty aims to modify the size and/or shape of the labia to make them smaller or to correct an asymmetry or imbalance between them. Labiaplasty is one of the various procedures, which are done to rejuvenate or enhance the appearance of the female genitalia. Reduction of tissue in the labia minora is more common than reduction or augmentation of the labia majora.

Labiaplasty is one of the cosmetic surgeries that is now gaining popularity because of cultural acceptance. Aside from its psychological benefits for females who are self-conscious about the appearance of large, elongated or unbalanced labia, the surgery is also believed to reduce discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse and during exercise or daily activities.

Labiaplasty is done under local anesthesia on an outpatient basis. It may cost you $5,000 to $10,000 to have it done, but if your reason for having the surgery is because you are experiencing pain, these costs may be covered by insurance.

Risks and Complications

Experts from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, however, are currently against this procedure, because they believe that the risks of the procedure outweigh the benefits. The risks and possible complications include:

  • Bleeding

  • Pain

  • Infection

  • Temporary numbness

  • Changes in the pigmentation of the labia

  • Asymmetry

  • Decreased sensation in that area

  • Scarring, appearing as lumps

  • Hematoma (collection of blood) or blood clot

  • Skin puckering or skin creases

  • Sexual dysfunction

Recovery

Your outer genitals will be painful, swollen and tender for several weeks. Bruising of the labia and the surrounding area may also be seen. Patients are advised not to engage in sexual intercourse for at least one month after the surgery. Strenuous activities must also be avoided for at least 3 weeks.

Treatment includes pain medications and antibiotics to reduce your risk of infection. Sanitary pads may be used to drain any bleeding after the surgery. These are used until all the surgical wounds have healed. If you have your period, avoid using tampons for 10 days after the procedure. You may be able to take a bath after two days. Patients are advised not to smoke cigarettes to avoid wound dehiscence or breakdown.

Most patients report satisfaction and increased sexual function after a labiaplasty. To avoid the risks and complications, it is best to have your surgery done by a board-certified plastic surgeon, gynecologist, or urologist who have adequate skills and experience. Before having the procedure, talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of the procedure and what you can expect during the recovery period. Like any other type of plastic surgery it is best to have realistic expectations of the outcome of the procedure.

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