Women’s bodies have inspired thousands of years of mythology, artwork and research, yet until recently, certain parts of their anatomy were deemed taboo. But as women began to openly embrace the ways in which their bodies look and work, a movement toward feminine empowerment emerged and brought with it an appreciation of every part of the female body. The labia — the visible folds of skin around the vaginal opening — are one of the many elements of the female body that have become a more comfortable topic of discussion. Women are increasingly vocal about the ways in which their labia affect their life. From physical discomfort due to elongated or swollen inner labia, to lack of sexual confidence as a result of dark or asymmetrical labia, to dissatisfaction with labia appearance after pregnancy or menopause, this oft-ignored body part can have a series of unseen detrimental effects on women’s mental and physical well-being.
Women who struggle with the shape, size or appearance of their labia often seek a way to address their concerns so they can feel good about their whole body again. Labiaplasty might be the solution they need — this surgical procedure is increasingly popular for improving the appearance of the labia or reducing uncomfortable symptoms of labial chafing. But much like labia themselves, labiaplasty comes in different forms — depending on each patient’s goals and preferences, the surgical plan for their labiaplasty may involve one of two main techniques.
The first approach to labiaplasty is called the trim technique. Trim labiaplasty is the original form of labiaplasty surgery, and remains the most commonly used option among most plastic surgeons. It focuses on removing a strip of skin from each of the inner labia to improve symmetry, reduce chafing and keep the inner labia protected by the outer labia.
In trim labiaplasty, your surgeon excises extra skin on the inner labia with a linear incision along the edge of the labia. The incision is then sutured closed at the edge, which leaves very minimal visible scarring. The result of the surgery is smaller inner labia folds that lie even with or receded from the outer labia, rather than extending beyond the outer labia.
Women who have trim labiaplasty typically have satisfactory outcomes. Trim labiaplasty efficiently removes unwanted labia skin that may chafe or rub. It also removes labia skin that tends to be dark, which many women consider cosmetically unappealing. It is a straightforward approach to labiaplasty that is time-tested and proven effective. It is also typically easily accessible as many plastic surgeons offer it.
In some cases — typically if the surgery isn’t performed carefully or by an experienced surgeon — the ridges of the newly shaped labia can be too pronounced along the surgical incision. This may cause an uneven transition at the top of the vulva near the clitoris, where the incisions on either side end. You may avoid this by choosing a surgeon with particular expertise performing labiaplasty, or by asking your surgeon whether other labiaplasty techniques may be more appropriate. The trim technique also does not address the clitoral hood, and in some cases can make the clitoris appear larger when the hood is prominent but the labia are minimized.
Wedge labiaplasty is a newer approach developed in the 1990s. It is emerging in popularity and availability because of its excellent cosmetic results, but remains less ubiquitous than trim labiaplasty partially due to its novelty and a few added risks. Wedge labiaplasty similarly focuses on reducing the extrusion of the inner labia to improve appearance and comfort.
Rather than trim away the skin along the edge of the labia, the wedge technique excises a triangular piece of skin at the widest part of the labia — to visualize this, consider removing a pie-slice wedge from the center of a semicircle. After removing the wedge of skin, your surgeon sutures the two sides together, which leaves a narrower inner labia that no longer protrudes past the outer labia.
The wedge technique allows women to keep the natural edge of their labia, which can have a more natural result from a cosmetic standpoint. It also keeps the natural folds of skin at the top of the vulva near the clitoris, preventing any discomfort from the ridges that may result from trim labiaplasty. It also avoids any incisions near the clitoris itself, which reduces discomfort and the risk of damaging the clitoris. When performed by an experienced surgeon, this option delivers subtle, highly satisfactory results.
The wedge technique comes with a few drawbacks, one being that many surgeons don’t use it frequently and therefore may not have the proper experience to perform it. It can be difficult for inexperienced surgeons to judge the appropriate size wedge, which sometimes results in unsatisfactory outcomes as not enough labia is trimmed away or too much trimming causes tension on the sutures. Finally, from a cosmetic standpoint, the wedge technique does not trim away the edge of the labia, which tends to be the darkest portion of labia skin that women want to remove.
Labiaplasty at Banff Plastic Surgery
Dr. Elizabeth Hall-Findlay specializes in women’s plastic surgeries, including labiaplasty. She has many years of experience performing both types of labiaplasty and frequently performs the wedge technique with excellent outcomes. Dr. Hall-Findlay and the rest of our exceptional team are here to help you restore your confidence and comfort through labiaplasty or other breast and body cosmetic surgeries that you may want to pursue. If you are interested in labiaplasty in the Banff or Calgary, Canada area, please visit our offices for an in-person consultation. We will evaluate your needs and goals and help you understand which labiaplasty approach will be most appropriate for you. Dr. Hall-Findlay will help you understand the benefits and risks of the procedure, explain the surgical process and make sure that you are a good candidate for labiaplasty at this time. Call us today at 403-762-2055 to schedule your first appointment.