Labiaplasty (sometimes spelled labioplasty) is plastic surgery of the Labia majora and/or the Labia minora, the external folds of the vulva. The procedure involve changing the shape of the labia. When labia are created where there were none, it is usually part of a vaginoplasty.
Labiaplasty may be undertaken for functional reasons, aesthetic reasons, or a combination of the two. The procedure is frequently performed to reduce the size of one or both sets of labia. It may also be used to repair the labia following disease or injury, especially from childbirth. A hoodectomy may be performed to expose the clitoris in order to address clitoral phimosis. Hoodectomy is sometimes used to address sexual dysfunction such as lack of orgasm, although the efficacy of this procedure for this purpose is disputed.
Labiaplasty is an outpatient procedure usually performed under local anesthesia.
After surgery, patients may experience some mild discomfort and swelling, which usually disappears completely after 1-2 weeks. It is important for patients to follow their doctors' post-op orders following surgery. This will help ensure quality results and better healing as well as reduce discomfort and complications.
Instructions may include avoiding intercourse for several weeks (typically three to six weeks) following surgery. The doctors may recommend that women not to use tampons and/or douches while recovering.
Women usually return to work and normal activities within two to five days, while more strenuous activities will take about three weeks.
Labiaplasty evokes strong emotional responses far more often than more common procedures like rhinoplasty. There is considerable controversy surrounding such surgeries for many patients, notably around women who worry that their labia are abnormal. While plastic surgery websites state this procedure may be appropriate for women experiencing discomfort during physical activities, sexual intimacy, or from irritation caused from close-fitting garments, the controversy surrounds the phenomenon of women undergoing labiaplasty for aesthetic reasons alone.
Many individuals, of both genders, professionals and non-professionals alike, raise concerns that the desire for this procedure is driven by marketing, and an unhealthy self-image derived from media images of what the "ideal" female genitalia should look like. The increasing attention this procedure is receiving in various media is believed to be generating a growing market for this surgery. For most women, it is cosmetically unwarranted, and constitutes a needless exposure to the risks inherent in any surgery. Some have likened the procedure to other forms of genital modification and mutilation.
Another concern about choosing this surgery for cosmetic reasons is that the ring of scar tissue created at the vaginal opening can later cause pain and complications during childbirth. As this surgery is more and more frequently performed on younger women, a concern is that surgeons are not warning women of the long-term physical risks they may undertake by electing for labiaplasty.
In May 2007 the British Medical Journal, one of the most prestigious health journals worldwide, blasted the "designer vagina" craze, citing its popularity being rooted in commercial and media influences.
In the case of transsexual women, labiaplasty is frequently the second part of a two-stage vaginoplasty, where labia and a clitoral hood are created. This is often performed a few months after the first part of the procedure. In some cases, labiaplasty is an elective procedure to improve appearance after a one-stage vaginoplasty.
For images of labiaplasty see Labiaplasty Pictures - Before and After.