Each year, an increasing number of women choose to have labiaplasty, a surgery that reduces the size of the labia minora. This surge may seem that women want to achieve the proverbial “ideal vagina,” but the truth is that for some, surgery is the only way to get relief. Relief from pain, discomfort, and chafing that accompanies excessive tissues. And at Finesse Cosmetic Surgery in Waltham, MA, we’re proud to help these women.
Why Would Someone Get a Labiaplasty?
We’re going to start this conversation by discussing the pain and irritation women experience when vaginal lips protrude. These tissues are soft and sensitive by nature. When enlarged – and by this, we mean those tissues that are large enough to cause discomfort – they can rub together while sitting and standing so that repose is hard to come by.
Such rubbing can irritate the skin, but to compound the situation, adjusting these tissues to a more comfortable position can be both embarrassing and difficult. For working women, they must endure the malaise or repeatedly excuse themselves for the restroom. This can become exhausting after just a few days, not to mention months and years.
When skin is repeatedly rubbed, it leads to chafing in which the tissues gradually break down. Keep in mind the skin is in place for a reason. Yes, it can be aesthetically pleasing, but its biological function is to protect the body from invasive agents like disease and bacteria. When compromised, the skin itself may become infected and also allow bacteria to enter the vagina.
Removing excess tissues from this area eliminates irritation and ensures stronger skin. It also promotes a healthier vagina, which for many women is key. This is a frequent area of concern for females that can impact overall well-being.
This brings us to our next point: enlarged labia contribute to recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). Although these infections can be attributed to many different causes, a study published in the International Urogynecology Journal confirms that vaginal pH imbalance and labia minor anatomy are among the most common and important causes. And UTIs can be severe enough to require emergency room visits and days missed from work.
When the labia protrude, they make it difficult to properly clean the vagina. Poor hygiene often gives way to odors, itching, and additional irritation. In response, women may turn to feminine products like douches and vaginal deodorants. These, however, can actually increase irritation and cause additional symptoms like burning and discharge.
Protruding labia are responsible for more than medical concerns. They can also create visible bulges when women wear tight clothing, making it difficult to comfortably don tight jeans, swimsuits, and yoga pants. While these effects may seem trivial, they’re restrictive to the women who suffer them. The woman who wants to swim but cannot, may feel like her body has betrayed her.
The same is true of a woman who practices yoga but suddenly feels self-conscious every time she slips into her clothing. And eventually, she’ll stop doing so because she doesn’t want the intimate parts of her body exposed. Even worse, when enlarged lips repeatedly rub clothing, they become chafed and, as we already discussed, vulnerable to infections.
Inability to Engage in Activities
Bike riding is just one activity off the table for women with tender, enlarged labia. Sports may also become problematic, taking you away from team and/or individual competitions that you otherwise consider to be important. Additional activities you may need to stop because they cause unwanted friction include:
- Horseback riding
- Long-distance running
Feeling self-conscious about your appearance is just the tip of the iceberg when talking about your labia and sexual activity. The truth is that these tissues can make sex downright painful, known medically as dyspareunia. This condition is defined as recurrent or persistent pain in the genitals that occurs only during or immediately after sex.
Some healthcare providers recommend women overcome this by using lubricants. But these don’t treat the underlying issue, and they certainly don’t address the discomfort a woman may feel with the appearance of her labia. Additional symptoms associated with protruding tissues include diminished sensitivity and the inability to reach orgasm. Collectively, these concerns can damage your sex life and impact your personal relationship.
It’s no secret that your physical appearance plays into your self-confidence. For women, this is perhaps truer of the genital area than even the face. Feeling embarrassed by this most intimate of areas may force you to avoid intimacy altogether, wear baggy and ill-fitting clothes, and skip certain physical activities – like that aerobics class you really want to try.
But living like this doesn’t improve your confidence. Just the opposite, it magnifies your fears and can begin to impact other areas of your life. If, for instance, you feel something is wrong with your body, you might start to engage less with friends. Lower self-esteem is also associated with self-defeating behaviors like procrastinating, missing deadlines, and arguing with others.
The Vanity Myth
Many people believe a labiaplasty is nothing more than a vanity pursuit. But this procedure is not a path to a “designer vagina.” Keep in mind the vagina is located within the body and is not visible in any way. The only components that exist outside of the body include the labia and vulva. Second, women generally understand that labia are as diverse as the ladies they belong to. This means there is no such thing as an ideal appearance.
Finally, each woman has her own goals for surgery. Whereas one might want to boost her self-image, another may want to freely wear yoga pants for exercise. It’s true that some women opt for the procedure because they want to resemble models they’ve seen in movies or on magazine covers, but this is a very small number.
What Science Tells Us
To illustrate, a study published in Aesthetic Surgery asked women their motivations for having this surgery. Some mentioned an improved appearance, but sexual well-being and improved physical comfort were more common answers. In addition, the American Society for Plastic Surgery reports that most women choose the procedure for medical reasons.
Ultimately, the choice to have this surgery is about you – the patient. Choosing to reshape the labia is deeply personal, whether you want greater symmetry or more comfort. In turn, our jobs are to listen to your concerns and, once the procedure begins, maintain the integrity of the labia and vulva
What To Expect After Surgery
The procedure itself is pretty straightforward. We simply trim excess tissue so the labia minora (inner lips) are neatly tucked within the labia major (outer lips). We can perform this surgery under local or general anesthesia, and it takes just 30 to 45 minutes to complete. Once you’re home, we recommend you take as directed any medications we prescribe for you.
On the first day of recovery, a spray bottle filled with water can be squirted on incisions when you use the restroom to dilute urine and prevent it from stinging your incisions. This also helps clean your labia after urination so you don’t have to worry about unwanted bacteria. You should additionally wear loose, comfortable clothes and drink plenty of water.
Some Time Away
It’s a good idea to take a week off from work as you recover. You’ll be able to rest with greater ease, and you won’t have to worry about more restrictive work clothes causing friction on your incisions. Even your underwear can rub this area if you perform a job that requires a lot of physical movement. Taking it easy while your home will prevent discomfort and likely help you heal more quickly.
By the second day, you can expect to see a little drainage. Don’t worry – this is completely normal. Some itching may develop around your incisions by days six and seven, and this, too, is normal. You’ll feel more like yourself by this time, although your labia are still healing and thus won’t yet reflect the results of your surgery. These start to develop around the two-week mark, with full and final effects showing after about a month.
We’ll likely recommend you avoid exercise and training routines for at least a few days. The same is true of sex, which we may advise you abstain from for three to six weeks. This time is crucial, as it’s when your tissues will do the most healing. Without this recovery period, you may compromise your results and need revision/reconstructive surgery. It is, therefore, best you follow our guidelines so you heal effectively the first time.
All the Information You Need
Many women want to know if this procedure causes scars, and we’re happy to report it doesn’t. We carefully place your incisions within the deepest folds of skin, and throughout the healing process, those folds naturally reform and hide any signs of surgery. Most women report their gynecologists can’t even discern when labiaplasty has been performed because it’s such a discreet surgery.
Who Is a Good Candidate?
The first factor we’ll consider is whether you have enough excess tissues to viably remove during surgery. That, in addition to a thorough conversation about your health, will help us determine your candidacy. Specifically, we’ll ensure:
- You’re electing this surgery for your own reasons and not to please a significant other
- You are not pregnant
- You have realistic expectations of what this procedure can achieve
- You are in good overall physical health
What Causes Enlarged Labia?
It’s difficult to pinpoint a specific cause, but most healthcare providers agree it’s a natural fluctuation with the body. Just as people can have two different eyes and one foot that’s slightly larger than the other, different labia sizes are both common and normal. Some women are born with enlarged labia due to genetics, while others develop them over time because of hormonal fluctuations and aging.
Should I Have Surgery After I’ve Finished My Family?
It’s not a requirement that women delay this procedure until they’re finished having children. As long as you wait and get pregnant after you’re completely healed, childbirth should have no lasting effect on your surgery results.
Improve Your Health and Confidence
A labiaplasty can put you on a path to improved health, sexual well-being, and confidence. The procedure is quick, recovery is relatively easy, and you’ll see results in as little as two weeks. Perhaps the most important point, however, is that you don’t need a standardized reason to have this surgery. Simply feeling unhappy with your body is motivation enough. Schedule your consultation today by calling Finesse Cosmetic Surgery in Waltham, MA.