Is Labiaplasty Right for You?

Like women, labia come in a vast range of shapes and sizes. These variations are completely normal and part of what makes each person unique — but for some women, they can be a source of self-consciousness or physical discomfort that gets in the way of enjoying life the way they want to. Labia that are oversized, irregularly-shaped, or protruding, can cause embarrassment on a daily basis. They can have a detrimental effect on how you dress, exercise and engage in intimacy with a partner. More and more women are growing comfortable speaking openly about these concerns and seeking solutions that improve their well-being and their confidence.

Labiaplasty has become a very popular procedure in the past few years. Some women are bothered by the feel or appearance of their labia minora (the inner vaginal lips) extending or hanging beyond the labia majora (the outer vaginal lips). This extra tissue can be uncomfortable when wearing fitted clothing like bathing suits and yoga pants or when participating in activities like cycling and horseback riding. Intercourse can also be uncomfortable if the labia are long or loose. Some women simply don’t like the way extended labia look, particularly with the modern trend of waxing and hair removal that puts a substantial amount of focus on the genital area.

At Banff Plastic Surgery, our goal is to make every woman comfortable enough to discuss her personal concerns and help her find solutions adapted to her specific needs. Dr. Hall-Findlay specializes in women’s plastic surgeries and has spent more than three decades transforming the lives of women in Banff, Canmore, Calgary and the surrounding areas of Alberta. Each labiaplasty procedure performed at Banff Plastic Surgery is personalized for the patient to ensure her results are just right for her proportions and her goals. If you think labiaplasty is the right choice for you, we invite you to give us a call to schedule a consultation with Dr. Hall-Findlay.

The Right Procedure

Reshaping of the labia is tailored to each individual woman. During your in-person consultation with Dr. Hall-Findlay, she will discuss the different surgical techniques she can use as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each option, your anticipated labiaplasty cost and an approximate labiaplasty recovery timeline. She will help you decide which labiaplasty approach aligns best with the concerns you have expressed and the improvements you are hoping to achieve. Although it may feel awkward to discuss such a personal subject, rest assured that there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel comfortable and look better all over your body. Dr. Hall-Findlay conducts every consultation with sensitivity, compassion and discretion.

Some women may be candidates for simply trimming the excess tissue and repairing the edges of the labia. Trim labiaplasty is the original labiaplasty technique and remains in common use among most plastic surgeons. When this method is used, a strip of skin is removed along the length of the labia minora using a linear incision. The incision is sutured closed at the edge, leaving minimal visible scarring. Trim labiaplasty can effectively improve symmetry, reduce chafing and eliminate pigmentation that some women consider cosmetically undesirable.

However, we more frequently adopt the wedge excision method originally described by American surgeon Gary Alter, MD. Rather than trimming away redundant skin along the edge of the labia, this newer technique involves the removal of a triangular or wedge-shaped section of tissue from the widest part of the labia. The two sides are then stitched together.

Dr. Hall-Findlay recommends wedge labiaplasty for the majority of her patients. The wedge approach allows her to remove extra skin and tissue where it is most prominent, and bring the normal-appearing edges of the labia together. This way, there is no stitch line along the outer edge of the labia, and the anatomy of the remaining tissue lines up quite nicely. The results of the wedge technique tend to look more natural. Women who have labiaplasty with this method often heal so well that the incisions are barely visible. For women whose primary concern is pigmentation of the labia — the wedge technique will remove the pigmentation from the labial edges.

We offer labiaplasty in the comfort of our private office operating suite. Most women do well with local anesthesia, but sedation can also be offered for our patients who are more anxious about surgery. Our all-female staff will begin the procedure by getting you positioned comfortably in the operating suite and administering the anesthesia. While Dr. Hall-Findlay performs the surgery, we can chat with you or play your favorite music to pass the time and ensure you feel relaxed. A labiaplasty procedure lasts approximately an hour and a half and you will be able to return home the same day.

The Right Patient

Some women become more bothered by the appearance of their labia after childbirth or with age, since there can be some stretching out of the tissues as a result of these events. We have also cared for younger women and even teenagers who are uncomfortable and self-conscious because they have developed larger labia. If you are unhappy with the look of your labia or you are experiencing irritation and discomfort as a result of certain types of clothing or activities, labiaplasty may be the right choice for you.

It’s important to note that labiaplasty only addresses the appearance of the labia — it is not a procedure for vaginal tightening. Tightening the internal vaginal canal to reverse the effects of aging or childbirth, improve intimacy or treat urinary leakage from stress continence requires a different approach. There are both surgical and nonsurgical techniques for this kind of vaginal rejuvenation.

A good candidate for labiaplasty is concerned with the size, shape and symmetry of her labia minora. She is also in good general health, does not smoke and has realistic expectations for the outcome of her procedure. These are essential requirements for a patient undergoing a surgical procedure of any kind. The best way to determine whether labiaplasty is right for you is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Hall-Findlay.

The Right Reasons

When women ask their gynecologists about troublesome labia, they are often told that their anatomy is normal and they shouldn’t worry. It is indeed a normal variation in most cases — we see significant variations in anatomy from woman to woman, and none of them are inherently “bad” or unattractive. However, some women find that they are affected mentally and physically by having large or irregularly-shaped labia minora. If that is the case for you, a labiaplasty can help you feel more comfortable.

The first thing many women think of when they consider labiaplasty surgery is their intimate relationships. Large labia can lead to painful intercourse that interferes with a woman’s ability to enjoy sex or cause emotional distress that makes her uncomfortable in front of a partner. But the reasons for seeking out labiaplasty extend far beyond the bedroom. Large labia can also make it uncomfortable to engage in some physical activities, like riding a bike, or wear form-fitting clothing like swimsuits and fitness leggings.

There is often a strong psychological component to the decision to pursue labiaplasty. How a woman perceives her body can have a tremendous impact on her confidence and self-image. Feeling insecure or embarrassed about your body, especially such an intimate part of it, can be emotionally draining. Labiaplasty is about making you physically more comfortable as well as more comfortable in your skin and more confident in your experiences. We believe every woman deserves to feel good about her whole body from head to toe.

The Right Time

Recovery is a critical stage of any surgical procedure. It’s important to schedule your labiaplasty when you can devote a sufficient amount of time and attention to the healing process. While recovery from labiaplasty is usually straightforward, you will still need to take it easy at first. There can be significant swelling and you may want some pain medicine to help manage the discomfort for a few days. Allow yourself to rest, ideally laying down with your feet up.

Most women can return to work and other gentle activities within a week after a labiaplasty procedure. You will need to avoid sports and strenuous exercise for two to three weeks. Sexual activity and tampon use can usually resume after about four weeks of healing. Your labiaplasty stitches are dissolvable, so you will not need to have them removed; however, we will still ask you to return for a follow-up appointment at four weeks to check on your healing progress.

Labiaplasty can provide long-lasting results and many patients experience dramatic improvements in their quality of life. To discuss this procedure further, we invite you to visit Banff Plastic Surgery for an in-person consultation. Dr. Hall-Findlay and our exceptional all-female staff are available to answer your questions about labiaplasty or any other cosmetic procedure you may wish to pursue. Schedule your private consultation with Dr. Hall-Findlay by phoning Banff Plastic Surgery at 403-762-2055.

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Labiaplasty FAQ

Why are my labia minora so long?

We see many different variations in female anatomy every day. During puberty, the inner labia, or labia minora, grow to adult size. Childbirth and aging can also lead to changes in the appearance of the labia minora and female genitalia. These changes can include enlargement of the labia minora, tears in the minora, and generalized looseness of the tissues. Labiaplasty can address many of these concerns by giving you a “neater,” tucked-in look.

What labiaplasty techniques do you use?

Every woman’s anatomy is a bit different, so we will adapt the technique to your particular anatomy and your desires. We have extensive experience with both edge trim and wedge/extended wedge techniques, as well as the lesser-known de-epithelialization technique that is a variation of the wedge. We’ll explain the pros and cons of each approach and give you an honest opinion based on our experience.

How soon can I go back to work and exercise?

Labiaplasty is a well-tolerated procedure, but it’s still surgery. We recommend taking 3-7 days off work and normal activities so that you can rest, ice, and heal. After about 2 weeks, you can begin to exercise again.

What about the extra skin around my clitoris?

Many women have elongated labia in combination with bulky skin around the clitoris that also protrudes and makes them feel self-conscious. This tissue can be contoured as part of the extended wedge labiaplasty, hiding the incisions inconspicuously in the crease between the inner and outer labia. Contouring the sides of the clitoral hood can improve the proportions of the vulva and help provide that “tucked in” appearance you’re looking for.

What risks should I be aware of?

As with any surgery, labiaplasty carries some risks. Bleeding, infection, and opening of the incision can happen, but are fairly uncommon. Scarring can be noticeable, especially if tight stitches are placed during a trim procedure. For this reason, we prefer to use buried stitches and a wedge technique in many cases. The sensory nerves to the clitoris run much deeper than the incisions, and studies have shown that labiaplasty is unlikely to decrease sexual sensation.