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Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health

by EBSCO Medical Review Board

Definition

A labiaplasty is surgery to reduce the size of the labia minora. These are the flaps of skin on the sides of the opening of the vagina.

Reasons for Procedure

The procedure may be done for cosmetic reasons to change the way the female genitals look. It may also be done to correct a damaged labia or a large labia that causes pain and discomfort.

This surgery should not be done in people under age 18 years of age. The genital area is still developing and surgery may cause problems with this process.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Pain during sex
  • Reduced sensitivity due to nerve damage
  • Scarring

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or obesity

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
  • Arranging for a ride to and from surgery
  • Specialists you may need to see, such as a mental health counselor to talk about your reasons for seeking surgery

Anesthesia

The doctor may give:

Description of the Procedure

There are three ways this surgery may be done:

  • Trim method: A clamp will be placed on the area to control bleeding. Excess labia tissue will be removed using a scalpel or laser. The area will be closed with stitches.
  • Wedge method: A wedge of tissue is removed from the center of the labia. The two sides are stitched together.
  • De-epithelialization method: The tissue that lines the labia is removed using a scalpel or laser. The area will be closed with stitches.

How Long Will It Take?

2 hours

Will It Hurt?

Pain and swelling are common in the first few days. Medicine and home care help.

Average Hospital Stay

Most people can go home the same day. If you have problems, you may need to stay longer.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

Right after the procedure, the staff may give you pain medicine.

During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to lower your risk of infection, such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your incisions covered

There are also steps you can take to lower your risk of infection, such as:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and staff to do the same
  • Reminding staff to wear gloves or masks
  • Not letting others touch your incisions
At Home

It will take a few weeks for swelling to go away. Some activities will be limited. Sex will need to be avoided for up to four weeks. You may need to delay your return to work.

Call Your Doctor

Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, excessive bleeding, or any discharge from the incision
  • Pain that you cannot control with medicine
  • New or worsening symptoms

If you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES

American Congress of Obstetrician and Gynecology  http://www.acog.org 

American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery  http://www.asoprs.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada  https://www.canada.ca 

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada  http://www.sogc.org 

References

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Committee opinion No. 662: Breast and labial surgery in adolescents. Obstet Gynecol. 2016 May;127(5):e138-140.

Labiaplasty. Brigham and Women’s Hospital website. Available at: https://www.brighamandwomens.org/surgery/plastic-surgery/procedures/labiaplasty. Accessed August 19, 2021.

Labiaplasty (vulval surgery). NHS Choices website. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cosmetic-procedures/labiaplasty. Accessed August 19, 2021.

What are the types of labiaplasty procedure? Health Development Advice website. Available at: http://www.hda-online.org.uk/cosmetic-surgery/labiaplasty/types-of-labiaplasty.html. Accessed Accessed August 19, 2021.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board James Cornell, MD
  • Review Date: 07/2021
  • Update Date: 08/19/2021