It can be hard to admit when something doesn’t look or feel right “down there.” But at Tarola Plastic Surgery in Murfreesboro, TN, you have nothing to worry about. We want you to speak openly and freely, especially if the length or size of your labia is causing distress. Discussing your concerns allows us to determine if a labiaplasty is appropriate for you. This surgery can rejuvenate your external tissues and kick your confidence into high gear.
Why Would Someone Get a Labiaplasty?
While most cosmetic therapies focus on the face – it’s the first part others see – labiaplasties are growing increasingly popular. But not for the reasons you might think; instead of a desire to conform to ideals about perfection, most women choose a labiaplasty to improve function and comfort.
Labia size and shape are as unique as eye color. Likewise, the range of what’s “normal” extends far and wide. Sometimes, however, labial tissues protrude in a way that makes sitting uncomfortable. These elongated tissues can, in fact, get in the way of normal function. This extends from working on a computer to watching TV with family members. An athlete may similarly be unable to perform physical activities, such as running or riding a bike.
The Self-Conscious Perspective
In addition to function, some women do feel self-conscious about the appearance of their inner labia. They perceive it as being abnormally long and worry about wearing a swimsuit or having sex. For these women, the distress is so great they lack intimacy in their relationships, avoid certain activities, and wear only loose-fitting clothing.
Trying to explain the reason for painful intercourse can be tough. But for women who notice their inner and outer labia are red and irritated after sex, the likely culprits are long tissues that get pushed into the vagina’s entrance during sex. Your partner, no matter how gentle, may then cause friction that rubs the labia until they’re sore. Long labia can also pull on your clitoris until it hurts.
Some women struggle to practice good hygiene because of over-long labia, as confirmed by a study published in the Journal of Pelvic Medicine and Surgery. This can cause recurring urinary tract infections (UTIs) as bacteria from sweat, urine, and vaginal discharge get trapped in skin folds.
Trauma After Childbirth
Sometimes, women feel perfectly comfortable with their labia until after childbirth. Traditional delivery can stretch these tissues so they sag. Childbirth can also tear the labia so you feel pain when clothing rubs.
It’s no secret that women undergo multiple periods of hormonal fluctuations. Puberty, monthly menstruation, childbirth, breastfeeding, and menopause can make the body feel like it’s in a constant state of flux. But the changes wrought by these fluctuations go deeper than a woman’s emotional state; they also yield physical changes, including those to the vagina. With regard to the labia, drops in estrogen can cause tissues to grow lax and droop.
A Personal Matter
A small study published in Aesthetic Surgery Journal found that women who choose this procedure are motivated in equal parts by physical comfort, sexual well-being, and appearance. And the American Society for Plastic Surgery confirms most women elect this surgery for practical reasons.
We tell you this to make an important point: nearly any reason is sufficient to have a labiaplasty. As long as you maintain realistic goals and are doing it for yourself, rather than a partner, you can benefit from:
- Increased confidence
- Better sex
- Greater comfort in your clothing
- Improved hygiene
What This Procedure Entails
The goal of surgery is to achieve a smoother, more even contour of the labia without distorting your natural anatomy or adding unsightly scars. To do this, we remove a small amount of tissue and excess skin. Absorbable sutures that dissolve within seven to 10 days are then used to tuck and hold skin in place.
Normally, this surgery is performed on an outpatient basis. Either general or local anesthesia can be used with or without IV sedation, depending on your preference, and you can expect to be in surgery between two and four hours. We can also combine it with other cosmetic procedures, such as a tummy tuck or breast augmentation, or non-surgical treatments like Botox or Kybella.
We schedule consultation appointments with all of our patients to understand their reasons for surgery and determine if it’s the right option for you. You should come to this appointment prepared to discuss how your labia interfere with your daily life. For instance, if you find intercourse painful or exercise uncomfortable, we want you to share this information. It’s important we understand these factors to provide you with the best treatment options possible.
Once you’ve provided your reasons for wanting surgery and asked the questions you have, we’ll perform a physical examination and explain the procedure in detail. If we agree your case qualifies for surgery, we’ll schedule your procedure. A labiaplasty is rather straightforward, but you should be prepared to:
- Rest appropriately in the days leading up to your surgery
- Eat healthy foods to nourish your body
- Stay hydrated to assist with healing
- Purchase groceries and prepare some meals to freeze
- Arrange for a friend, relative, or spouse to help with housework and/or childcare
We’ll also provide a list of guidelines to follow that will help optimize your surgery results. Feel free to review this list and ask any questions you have. This differs slightly for each patient to cover individual needs, but the most common recommendations include:
- Quitting smoking
- Discontinuing certain medications (with physician approval)
- Stopping some vitamins and supplements
You will also receive post-care instructions, and we may recommend prescription medications to help you heal more quickly. It’s true downtime is minimal, with most patients resuming normal activity about five days after surgery. But you’ll need at least a few days to rest, wear comfortable and loose-fitting clothing, and stay home from work.
You can plan on returning to sexual activity within a few weeks. Temporarily abstaining helps the sutures stay in place and allows your tissues to completely recover. Be sure to apply any dressings or topical medications as prescribed, and return for your follow-up appointment so we can monitor your progress.
What Surgery Can Do for You
Just for a refresher, the vulva refers to external genitalia surrounding the vagina. This includes the labia, and you have two sets. The labia majora refer to outer lips where hair grows, while tucked inside are the labia minora. These reside in closer proximity to the clitoris, urethra, and vaginal opening. Labiaplasty usually targets the labia minora.
No medical guides dictate what the labia should look like in terms of shape or size. Many doctors characterize labia tissues that are around two inches in length (when stretched out) as excessively long. You don’t need to hit this precise mark to qualify for surgery because the labia are noted for differing from woman to woman. But if you do choose this procedure, you can expect:
- Shorter, tighter inner labia lips
- Smoother tissues
- Improved proportion between inner and outer lips
- Correction of asymettrical labia
- A more youthful appearance
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s perfectly normal to have questions about this procedure. For instance, many patients want to know if their sexual partners will see or feel any changes resulting from the surgery. While a current partner will likely see a distance, it’s improbable a “new” partner will have any idea. The important point, however, is that you will know, and you’ll feel more confident in your body and how you express yourself to others.
Is There a “Right” Age to Have Surgery?
The answer to this is no. Some women are born with large labia that cause physical and emotional distress, while others develop them after childbirth or with hormonal changes, as we explained earlier. Surgery is therefore right at almost anytime to keep you comfortable.
Can I Have Surgery If I Haven’t Yet Had Children?
Absolutely. If you’ve been thinking about this procedure for some time, there’s no need to wait. We do want to caution that giving birth later may result in fresh tears or injuries to the labia, which would then require repairs, but this isn’t necessarily a reason to delay surgery. You should feel happy with your body, and if you don’t, we understand the full-spectrum impact that can have on your life.
Why Is This Procedure Becoming More Popular?
The best answer is increased awareness. In the past, genital surgeries were considered “vain.” Today, however, we’re far more open to the pain and discomfort associated with enlarged labia. We also understand it’s about more than achieving a pleasing appearance; women want the freedom to wear a variety of clothes, exercise without pain, and enjoy sex. Labiaplasty supports all of these desires.
Put Yourself First
This procedure is easy, requires little downtime, and can change the way you feel about your body. Equally important, it can restore all aspects of physical comfort so pain is no longer the first thing on your mind. Schedule your consultation today by calling Tarola Plastic Surgery in Murfreesboro, TN.