Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure that reshapes and resizes the labia minora, or inner vaginal lips. A labiaplasty removes excess tissue caused by genetics or stretching due to childbirth or excessive weight loss.
In this blog, we will explain the labiaplasty procedure and offer insight for each phase—from selecting a plastic surgeon to understanding what to expect as you recover and see the results.
Why Consider Labiaplasty?
You might consider labiaplasty if your labia minora droops, is elongated, or causes pain or discomfort.
The procedure can give you relief from:
- Embarrassment or self-consciousness
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Itching and irritation
- Pain from twisting, turning, and tugging labia
- Pain when riding a bike, motorcycle, or horse
- Painful or uncomfortable intercourse
- Personal hygiene issues
Choosing a Labiaplasty Plastic Surgeon
Scheduling a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon who specializes in labiaplasty is one of the most important decisions before starting surgery. In addition to sharing your concerns, below are some questions that the American Board of Plastic Surgery recommends asking during your consultation:
- Are you certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
- Have you received vaginal rejuvenation training?
- Do you specialize in labiaplasty?
- How many labiaplasty procedures have you performed?
- Am I a good candidate for labiaplasty?
- Where will you perform my surgery?
- Do you have hospital privileges for surgery? Where?
- If you perform surgery in an outpatient facility, is the facility accredited by a state- or nationally recognized accrediting agency? Is the facility state-licensed or Medicare-certified?
- What can I do to prepare for surgery and assist my recovery?
- Which technique will you use for my procedure?
- What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?
- How do you handle complications?
- What are my options if I am dissatisfied with the outcome of my labiaplasty?
- Will you please show me before-and-after photos of labiaplasty procedures you completed?
- How much will the procedure cost?
What Happens During a Consultation?
During your labiaplasty consultation, you can expect the surgeon to do the following:
- Talk with you about your concerns and how your labia minora affects your quality of life
- Review your medical and prescription histories
- Conduct a thorough exam and take photographs to evaluate your fitness and determine if this treatment will benefit you
- Answer your questions about the procedure
- Explain the results you can expect
Visit the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ website for more details on what to expect during your consultation.
How Can You Prepare for Labiaplasty?
You can prepare for labiaplasty by taking care of your health and ensuring you have what you need at home for a comfortable recovery.
Add these tasks to your to-do list:
- Anticipate the expense – Most insurance companies do not provide benefits for labiaplasty procedures without confirming they are medically necessary.
- Arrange for transportation – Ask a responsible adult to drive you to your surgery appointment, stay at the facility during your procedure, and take you home. That person may need to stay with you overnight, if not longer, and drive you to your first follow-up appointment.
- Take time off – You will need to rest after surgery, so schedule at least seven to ten days off from work, school, and other commitments.
- Eat healthy – Nutritious food will strengthen your body for surgery, help minimize inflammation, and improve your recovery.
- Stay hydrated – Drinking plenty of water promotes wound healing, improves blood circulation, and supports a steady recovery.
- Get plenty of sleep and rest – If you rest well before surgery, it will be easier for your mind and body to relax.
- Get a pap smear – If you have not had a recent pap smear, your plastic surgeon may ask you to get one to assess your cervical health and track any changes.
- Stop smoking – Decreased blood flow and a weaker immune system are two effects of smoking. Quitting the habit will help your body heal faster after labiaplasty.
- Get groceries and prescriptions – Stock up on healthy groceries and pick up pain relievers or antibiotics that your plastic surgeon prescribes.
- Ask for help around the house – Talk to friends or family members, and ask for help with young children, pets, or daily household tasks. You will not be able to push, pull, or lift anything after your procedure.
- Stop taking medications and supplements that increase bleeding – Your plastic surgeon will tell you how many days before surgery you must stop taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory medications, and supplements. Your surgeon will advise you about any prescription medications you take that may increase bleeding.
What Can You Expect with Labiaplasty Surgery?
Knowing what to expect with labiaplasty can relieve anxiety and help you understand your body’s response to the procedure. This knowledge can help you embrace your role in achieving a smooth recovery. We will review what you can expect before, during, and after surgery.
How Long Is a Labiaplasty Procedure?
On average, a plastic surgeon completes labiaplasty in one to two hours. But some procedures take longer. Your doctor will give you a time estimate for your surgery. The surgical facility or your surgeon’s office will tell you what time to arrive for check-in and presurgical preparation.
Will I Need to Stay Overnight?
Labiaplasty is an outpatient procedure, so you will not need to stay overnight. After a brief recovery, your surgeon will approve your release to go home if you are stable.
Does Labiaplasty Hurt?
Your surgeon will provide anesthesia and pain medication to ensure that you do not feel pain during your labiaplasty and to minimize pain during recovery.
Prior to surgery, the doctor will numb your vaginal area with local anesthesia. The numbness will last 18 to 24 hours. After surgery, your doctor will also provide prescription medication for pain control at home.
What Happens During a Labiaplasty?
During a labiaplasty, your plastic surgeon will resize and reshape your labia minora—inner vaginal lips. Two standard methods used include the trim procedure and the wedge procedure.
If you receive the trim procedure, your surgeon will complete these steps:
- Trim and remove excess tissue from the outer edge of the labia minora
- Recontour the edge
- Stitch the tissue to make it symmetrical with the labia majora—outer vaginal lips
A surgeon who uses the wedge procedure will do the following:
- Cut a V-shaped wedge of tissue from the thickest part of the labia minora to preserve the outer edge
- Stich the edges
During your procedure, the surgical team will use equipment to monitor your blood pressure, heart, pulse, and blood oxygen level.
Immediately After Your Labiaplasty
Immediately after your procedure, the surgical team will do the following:
- Apply surgical dressing or a compression garment to protect your vagina
- Take you to a recovery area and continue monitoring your vital signs
- Release you to go home after observation and your plastic surgeon’s approval
- Give you instructions post-operative care instructions
What Are the Risks of Labiaplasty?
Labiaplasty risks are the same as most surgical procedures, which include bleeding and infection.
Other risks associated with aggressive labial reduction include:
- Chronic dryness
- Scarring near the vaginal opening
- Painful intercourse
A board-certified plastic surgeon will use techniques that promote your long-term health and well-being while minimizing these risks.
Your labiaplasty recovery will progress over the next six weeks. What can you expect during recovery?
First Week After Labiaplasty
Post-labiaplasty symptoms are the most intense during the first week after your procedure.
- Discomfort – For two to three days, expect significant swelling in your inner (labia minora) and outer (labia majora) vaginal lips. After a few days, the swelling will peak. Elevate your buttocks to minimize swelling and help it decrease over the next few weeks. Your surgeon may advise you to apply a cold compress to your vaginal area to reduce swelling. Take prescription medication precisely as your doctor directs to manage any discomfort.
- Bandages and compression garments – Wear bandages and compression garments as directed by your surgeon. Your doctor may give you ointment and instructions for applying it to the incisions prior to putting on the garments.
- Hygiene – Avoid showering for the first 24 hours. Spray your vaginal area to clean it, and pat it dry. Avoid using tampons during recovery.
- Clothing – Tight-fitting clothing and undergarments can irritate the surgical site, so avoid wearing them.
- Activity – Rest for a few days and avoid household tasks, driving, and exercise. Brief periods of non-strenuous walking will promote circulation and prevent blood clots. Use a cane or ask for assistance while walking if you need help to prevent a fall.
Two to Six Weeks After Labiaplasty
Over the next two to six weeks after labiaplasty, your symptoms should decrease. If they do not improve, or if they get worse, contact your plastic surgeon.
- Discomfort – Swelling, and itching will gradually decrease, and you will likely need less pain medication if any.
- Bandages and compression garments – Continue to wear bandages and compression garments as directed by your surgeon. You may still need to apply ointment to the incisions. Keep the surgical site clean and call your surgeon if your incisions are not healing well.
- Hygiene – Continue to take brief showers. Avoid scrubbing your vaginal area, and gently pat it dry. Continue to avoid tampon use.
- Activity – Avoid sexual intercourse until your surgeon says your vaginal area has healed enough to resume it. Walk daily, but do not overdo it. You may be able to resume non-strenuous activity within four weeks. Wait for a release from your plastic surgeon before jogging, running, or riding a bike, motorcycle, or horse.
What Results Can You Expect with Labiaplasty?
Studies show that more than 90 percent of women who receive labiaplasty are pleased with the results. An August 2020 press release from The American Society of Plastic Surgeons published results from a study on the quality of life before and after labiaplasty. The study included 62 women between ages 17 and 61. After surveying the women, the study reported:
- After labiaplasty, 93.5 percent of the women were symptom-free.
- Ninety-three percent of the participants were self-conscious about their labia before surgery. Afterward, only 6.5 percent felt the same way.
- All patients who felt tugging during intercourse were symptom-free.
When Will You See the Results of Labiaplasty?
Although each patient’s case is different, you will gradually see labiaplasty results in the weeks and months after surgery. After swelling decreases and scars fade, the improvement will be prominent.
What Will Your Scars Look Like?
After labiaplasty, healed scars are barely visible for several reasons:
- Your plastic surgeon will likely use dissolvable stitches that have less tension than traditional stitches and leave fewer scars.
- Scarring may blend with the wrinkles and folds in the labia minora.
- The scar tissue will be firm after the stitches dissolve but soften after several months.
Will Insurance Cover Labiaplasty?
In most cases, health insurance will not provide benefits for labiaplasty. If you and your surgeon can prove that the procedure is medically necessary—not solely for cosmetic reasons—your insurance company may consider your claim. For example, vaginal damage from childbirth or trauma may qualify as a medical necessity. Contact your health insurance provider for details.
How Much Does Labiaplasty Cost?
The range is $5-9,000, but costs vary by location in the United States. This estimate does not include fees associated with the procedure, including:
- Equipment expenses
- Medical staff
- Medical tools and supplies
- Medication you receive before, during, and after surgery
- Surgical facility fees
- Other expenses
Your plastic surgeon will give you a pre-treatment estimate for the cost of your surgery, with fees included. This estimate may range from $5,000 – $10,000.
Schedule a Labiaplasty Consultation
Do you have questions about labiaplasty and want to know if you are a candidate? Schedule a consultation with Plastic Surgery Associates in San Francisco today. Our board-certified plastic surgeons are here to help.