Labiaplasty Surgery - Methods, Procedure, Recovery & Side Effects
Listed below is the step by step procedure of labiaplasty surgery:
- What is Labiaplasty Surgery?
- Why is Labiaplasty Required?
- Preoperative Preparation
- Day Before Surgery
- Procedure Day
- Methods/Techniques of Labiaplasty
- Post Procedure
- Risks and Complications
What is Labiaplasty Surgery?
Labiaplasty is a surgery conducted to reduce vaginal lips in size or give them a proper shape (contouring). Labiaplasty is commonly performed on the inner vaginal lips (labia minora) compared to the outer fold of vaginal lips (labia majora). The condition of enlarged labia is called labial hypertrophy in medical terms. In such a condition, performing high-intensity physical activities such as sports, swimming, horseback riding, etc. and wearing body-fitted clothes creates physical discomfort. Further, females with enlarged vaginal lips due to vaginal childbirth, lifestyle, or a medical condition choose labiaplasty to eliminate the pain and enhance how the vagina appears.
Why is Labiaplasty Required?
Some women have small labia that get enlarged after vaginal delivery or changes in hormones due to aging, whereas others may be born with large sizes. Some women may feel that their labia is okay; for others, it may make them self-conscious and affect their self-confidence and intimate life. Labiaplasty not only offers cosmetic benefits but also has health benefits as well. It reduces the chances of vaginal infections and enables one to lead a quality life and maintain better personal hygiene. Undergoing labiaplasty also enhances sexual life as the female does not experience pain and discomfort earlier caused due to enlarged labia.
- Discussion with doctor: When you consider undergoing labiaplasty surgery, get in touch with an experienced cosmetic gynaecologist to understand if you are an ideal candidate for the treatment. Learn about the best-suited labiaplasty technique and what precautions you need to observe until surgery and how to ensure long-term results. Also, quit smoking and drinking as the doctor instructs otherwise you may experience more bleeding than normal during the procedure and it may prolong the recovery period as well.
- Screening tests: The doctor conducts preoperative tests to check for any underlying condition and the overall reproductive health of the patient. Physical examination is the first step to assessing the extent of enlarged or damaged labia and whether there is a need for any other cosmetic vaginal procedure. The doctor may also advise presurgical exams such as blood tests, urine culture, X-Ray, etc., to ensure that you are a suitable candidate for labiaplasty.
- Pre-surgery medication: Usually, no pre-surgery medicines are required to undergo labiaplasty. However, if you are already on medication, you should discuss it with your doctor to prevent complications during and after surgery. Doctors also advise stopping taking blood thinners and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) at least two weeks before labiaplasty surgery. In addition, supplements like vitamins, weight loss and herbal supplements should be stopped at least a month before the treatment as they may interfere with the body's response to anesthesia and increase the risk of bleeding.
Day Before Surgery
You should not drink or eat at least 8 hours before the surgery. Generally, doctors advise not to eat or drink anything after dinner the night before surgery. Getting proper rest and sleep a day before the labiaplasty procedure helps keep calm and stable during and after the treatment. It also helps in the smooth recovery of the body from the surgery.
Once you reach the hospital, you must change into a surgical gown. The medical staff will record your vitals, like pulse rate, blood pressure, body temperature, etc. They will also put an IV (intravenous line) on your hand or arm and a urinary catheter to easily pass urine.
The doctor will also the labia and the surrounding area and then administer anaesthesia (local or spinal). A gynecologist determines the type of anesthesia to be used while planning the surgery after assessing you physically and other test reports. Also, the kind of labiaplasty surgery you should undergo is finalized by the doctor based on what you want your labia to look and feel like. The surgery can be performed through scissors, scalpel or laser.
Methods/Techniques of Labiaplasty
There are four general approaches to reducing the size of the labia:
- Trim technique: In this advanced labiaplasty technique, the doctor makes a minor vertical incision along the length of the inner vaginal lips. The incision is made with the help of a laser or scalpel. After incision, excess vaginal tissues that make labia enlarged are removed. Afterwards, the surgeon closes the area by using sutures.
- Wedge technique: In this technique of labiaplasty, the doctor cuts and removes some thick tissues from the inner labia. After carefully removing the tissues, the surgeon stitches back together the two detached sides of the labia. There are minimal chances of long-term visible scarring in the wedge technique of labiaplasty.
- The de-epithelialization technique is not as commonly performed as the above two. De-epithelialization of labia is performed by highly experienced surgeons and aims at preserving the natural texture of labia minora. In this procedure, the doctor makes an elliptical incision on the inner wall of the labia to remove tissues in an ‘eye shape’. Further, the doctor stitches together the remaining edges. Sometimes, this technique may cause severing of the neuro-vascular connection in the region, resulting in restricted blood flow to the edge of the labia. When not performed precisely, the outcomes can be highly unsatisfactory.
- Laser labiaplasty: The labial tissues are not pressed using a surgical clamp in this advanced labiaplasty technique. Thus, there is no injury or damage to the remaining labial tissues. The surgeon grasps the excess labial tissue with forceps, makes an incision using a high-intensity CO2 laser, and removes the extra tissue. Following this, the doctor gently cleans the wound and uses dissolvable sutures. There is minimal to no bleeding during laser labiaplasty as the incision is sealed and blood vessels are closed without forced surgical clamping. Laser labiaplasty is a highly preferred technique as it produces exact and excellent results.
Irrespective of the labiaplasty technique, taking proper rest and care for a few weeks is highly recommended. Just like after any surgical treatment, it is normal to experience slight discomfort and pain. Labiaplasty post-surgery care tips include:
- Arrange your ride back home with a family member or friend after surgery
- Carry on with only minor household chores but do not overexert yourself
- Refrain from smoking and drinking for at least 4-6 weeks following labiaplasty
- Stay hydrated and avoid consuming caffeinated and carbonated drinks.
- Wear loose, airy cotton clothes to prevent friction and sweat in the vaginal region, which may increase complications.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects, running, and other high-intensity physical movements until complete recovery.
- Experiencing spotting or mild bleeding during the first few weeks after labiaplasty surgery is nothing to be worried about. Keeping sanitary towels handy help.
- In case of increasing or persistent pain and bleeding, get in touch with your doctor without delay as this may be a sign of risk or infection.
- Go for regular follow-ups with the doctor without any delay or neglect
Risk and Complications
Fortunately, the occurrence of labiaplasty surgery side effects is very low when performed under the supervision of an experienced healthcare professional. It is a relatively safe procedure performed by certified and skilled surgeons. However, it is best to go for regular post-surgery follow-ups with your doctor.
- Heavy bleeding
- Damage to underlying and surrounding tissues or structures
- Allergic reaction to anaesthesia
- Bleeding and infection at the site of surgery
- Allergic responses
- Damaged and scarred tissue of vulva and vagina
- Improperly contoured vaginal lips - the unsatisfactory result
- Accumulation of fluid or blood under the skin called seroma or hematoma
If Left Untreated:
- Frequent vaginal infection
- Discomfort in wearing fitted clothes and exercising
- Pain during sexual intercourse
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