Many women nowadays are self-conscious about the appearance of their labia. They are not sure what their labia are “supposed” to look like or wonder if their labia are “normal”. Some women also experience discomfort with certain activities or clothing due to longer length of the labia.
Labia come in all shapes and sizes! While most women have completely normal anatomy, there are many reasons why one might consider labiaplasty (surgical shortening or reshaping of the labia). Some women want labiaplasty for purely cosmetic reasons, because they are unhappy with length of the labia, asymmetry, or dark pigmentation of the tissue. Other women are seeking to alleviate pain or irritation that occurs with sexual intercourse, exercise, or wearing fitted clothing.
The labia are part of the external female genitalia. Around the opening of the vagina are two sets of skin folds: the labia minora which are small and hairless (the “inner lips”) and the labia majora, which are larger and have hair on the outer surface (the “outer lips”). In about 50% of women, the labia minora protrude beyond the labia majora. Above the labia minora is the clitoral hood, which is connected to the labia minora and protects the clitoris.
Your labia may change throughout your lifetime. During puberty estrogen will promote the thickening of the vaginal lips, kickstarting the initial growth of the labia. Pregnancy can increase blood flow and swelling to the area, making the labia appear larger. Some women experience elongation of the labia after childbirth. Menopause, on the other hand, may cause a decrease in the size and fullness of the labia as estrogen levels decrease.
However, if you experience a sudden change in the size of your labia over a short period of time, it may be a sign of abnormal growth. There are many possible causes in cases like this, so the best way to determine if your labial change is a concern is to schedule a consultation with your gynecologist to rule out any serious issues.
Some women may have labia that are larger than average, which is called labial hypertrophy. This may occur on one or both sides. Having enlarged labia is a harmless condition but may cause discomfort or irritation with certain activities. Rarely, some women have chronic infections.
While having large labia is not abnormal, it may cause discomfort for some women. With long labia, wearing tight underwear or pants may cause irritation. Some women may also avoid running, cycling, or other activities that cause friction in the area. Furthermore, you may need to be more mindful of your personal hygiene with large labia, since large labia may collect more bacteria which can result in vaginal odor.
There are some lifestyle changes that can help with discomfort including wearing comfortable, breathable clothing and choosing unscented, natural personal hygiene products to reduce the risk of irritation. However, if these solutions are not satisfactory, labiaplasty is an effective surgical solution.
Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure that changes the size and shape of the labia minora, clitoral hood, and sometimes labia majora. Most women undergo this procedure to reduce the size of their labia minora. In our office, we have performed countless labiaplasty procedures to help women feel more comfortable and confident in their bodies.
There are two common labiaplasty techniques called “wedge resection” and “edge trim.” The wedge method involves removing excess skin and tissue from the central portion of the labia in a wedge shape and bringing the labia back together. This technique allows for no scar along the edge. The trim technique involves removing the outer edge of the labia. The advantage of this technique is removal of the darkly pigmented area that bothers some women. The best technique depends on each patient’s individual goals and anatomy. Recovery usually takes 4-6 weeks, after which women can feel free to return to their regular activities.
Are you interested in learning more about labiaplasty and if it is a good option for you? Contact Mountain Lake Plastic Surgery today to schedule a consultation appointment to get started.