In 2013, the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reported that labiaplasty, or the reduction of excess tissue of the labia minora of the genital region in women increased by 44%, making it one of the fastest growing cosmetic procedures. The motivations for women seeking this procedure are complex, but include, a desire to improve their appearance in and out of clothing, comfort, hygiene, asymmetry, trauma, and a myriad of psychosocial considerations.
The appearance of female genitalia varies significantly under normal conditions but can be affected by congenital defects, trauma, aging, surgery, or childbearing. Gender re-assignment patients are another group of patients that benefit from labiaplasty procedures. In a 2008 publication, Journal of Sexual Medicine researchers found that approximately on third of women seek this procedure for primarily functional concerns, one third for strictly cosmetic concerns, and one third for a combination of functional and cosmetic concerns.
The procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia in the privacy of the office. Excessive, misshapen or asymmetric tissue is tailored to achieve a more normal and symmetric outcome. Recovery from the procedure takes approximately two weeks. It involves refraining from prolonged sitting or standing to avoid excessive swelling and discomfort. After approximately two weeks, most patients can return to normal activities of daily living. Sexual intimacy can be resumed after 6 weeks. Patient satisfaction with this procedure has been reported to be as high as 90-95% in various studies. While not commonly discussed, cosmetic labiaplasty is a viable consideration for women with similar concerns.
Robert F. Centeno M.D., F.A.C.S.
Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
Bitar Cosmetic Surgery Institute, Fairfax & Manassas, VA