Labiaplasty (sometimes spelled labioplasty and sometimes referred to as labia minor reduction or labial reduction) is plastic surgery of the labia majora and/or the labia minora, which are the external folds of skin surrounding the structures of the vulva. The procedure involves reducing elongated labia. When labia are created where there were none, it is usually part of a vaginoplasty. This procedure is performed for a variety of reasons, including correction of damage done to the labia during childbirth, because larger labia can cause pain or discomfort, or for the purposes of cosmetic surgery.
Labiaplasty reduces the size of one or both sets of labia. It may also be employed to repair the labia following disease or injury, or especially after childbirth. In addition, a hoodectomy may be performed at the same time, which exposes the clitoris in an attempt to increase sexual stimulation. Hoodectomy is sometimes used to treat sexual dysfunction such as anorgasmia.
As recently as 1999, surgeons usually performed labium reduction by straight amputation of the protuberant sections and then by suturing the edges together. However, this procedure sometimes created a fragile and stiff suture line as well as eliminating the natural contour and pigmentation of the labia minora. Moreover, other procedural and clinical problems existed with amputation that did not ensure a favorable outcome.
Several years later, more surgeons introduced lasers into their armamentarium and began using more refined surgical procedures, such as inferior wedge resection and superior pedicle flap reconstruction. In one outcome study, surgeons studied the results of 20 patients undergoing labiaplasty via the procedure. 95.2 percent of patients at 46 months reported being very satisfied. While five complications cropped up, all but one were handled immediately postoperatively and did not require additional hospital stays or interfere with healing.
Labiaplasty is almost always an outpatient procedure performed under anesthesia. It is debated as to whether a local or short general anesthetic delivers better patient comfort. After surgery, patients may experience some mild discomfort and variable swelling, which usually disappear for the most part after one to two weeks. Recovery times ranging from three days to two weeks are claimed on surgeons’ websites.