What conditions may make a woman a good candidate for labiaplasty?
- Overly large, redundant, elongated or generally unattractive labia.
- Easily visible labia (in underwear or bikinis) that may be embarrassing.
- Tissues that cause frequent or recurring rashes or vulvar irritation (vestibulitis).
- Significant asymmetry of the labial tissues (left to right).
Why do my labia look like this; they never used to?
Although some women develop excessively large labia following puberty, the majority of the patients that I see with this problem developed them during their pregnancy or pregnancies. New moms are particularly prone to develop larger, redundant labia following pregnancy because of the changes that their bodies endure during gestation.
What happens to the labia during pregnancy?
There are two very important, and related events that occur during pregnancy that affect the labia size and color. Similar to the abdominal wall, joints and breasts, the labia respond to the very normal hormone fluctuations that occur during pregnancy and immediately afterward. Further, the labia will increase in size during pregnancy as a result of both increased overall blood volume and increased pelvic pressure.
Blood Volume Increase: A mother’s blood volume will start to increase starting between week 6 and week 8 of the pregnancy, and will reach a maximum volume around week 33. This change is blood volume (an increase of about 30-40%) is an adaptive mechanism to help supply the growing baby and also to prepare the mother for the blood loss that occurs during delivery. However, the increased volume will also work to distend blood vessels that naturally occur in the labia.
Pelvic Pressure Increase: As the baby and uterus grow, they exert an increasing large downward force on the blood vessels in the pelvis, which leads to even further distension and stretching of the labia. This pressure is multiplied even further during delivery for women who deliver vaginally.
Once the body returns to its normal physiological state and size after pregnancy, so too will the labia. However, the labial skin is oftentimes stretched beyond repair resulting in an unattractive, sagging appearance.
How can this be repaired?
Unattractive, oversized and sagging labia are easily reduced and contoured during a labiaplasty procedure. Labiaplasty is a fairly simple, staight-forward out-patient operation that reduces the absolute amount of labial tissue while creating a more youthful appearance to the labial contour. Labiaplasty can be performed as a stand-alone procedure or as part of a full Mommy Makeover. Although local anesthetics are used during this procedure, I generally recommend that patients who choose to have labiaplasty performed do so under either intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. In this manner, each patients’ comfort is maximized.
What type of recovery can I expect after labiaplasty?
Labiaplasty is a very well tolerated procedure. Most patients will experience a small amount of swelling at the operative site for several weeks. The scars are hidden and barely perceptible and continue to heal, soften and flatten over the first post-operative year. Immediate post-operative care is focused on keeping the operative area clean. Dr. Brenner uses soft tissue glue (Dermabond) over the repair to help “water-proof” the incision for the first few days after surgery. Exercise regimens are usually stopped completely for the first two weeks after surgery. Full activity, and sexual intercourse, can be re-started about one month after the surgical scars are healed.