It’s true that the size, shape, and even color of the labia (the lips of the vagina) vary a very great deal from one woman to the next. It is the labia minora, or inner lips, that are the site of the greatest variation. Some women have small labia, while others have larger labia that can extend a significant distance past the edges of the labia majora, or outer lips. This can be the cause of significant suffering, both physical and emotional, for many women with larger than average labia, and is the reason for the growing popularity of procedures such as labiaplasty.
Labiaplasty is the surgical reduction in size, and recontouring of the labia — generally the labia minora, although occasionally the labia majora as well. It is an outpatient procedure, generally considered minor surgery, which means you can return home the same day. Full recovery, when you can resume normal sexual activity and once again used tampons or wear tighter undergarments, usually takes 4 to 6 weeks, although most people are able to resume unstrenuous activity after slightly less than a week.
Generally the procedure is performed using only a local anesthetic, and occasionally with the addition of an oral sedative. In cases of extreme patient anxiety, some doctors provide the option of either a general anesthetic or a very heavy sedation.
In the course of having a labiaplasty performed, the surgeon will first examine the labia, and mark off the tissue to be removed. In the case of a procedure to restore symmetry to asymmetrical labia this will be on one side only. In cases where both labia are excessively large this will, of course, be on both sides. The tissue to be removed will likely either run the length of the labia, and result in the removal of the entire outer edge, or will be in the form of a wedge shape that leaves a portion of the natural edge nearest the clitoris to form the new, smaller edge.
Physically, protruding inner labia, which are often very sensitive, can rub and chafe on undergarments, can make wearing tight fitting clothing impossible, and can interfere significantly with participation in sports. It can also cause discomfort, or even pain, during sexual intercourse.
Emotionally, the embarrassment and self-consciousness caused by having such easily visible labia can significantly impact a woman’s willingness to take part in activities such as swimming, which can require disrobing in front of other people. It can also cripple a woman’s love life if she is too embarrassed to be naked in front of her partner.
Thankfully, both the physical and emotional impacts of abnormally large labia can be easily remedied through a relatively straightforward labiaplasty procedure.
Dr. Perry Liu is a Beverly Hills board certified plastic surgeon. His skills embody the convergence of art and medicine that is the essence of aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. Dr. Liu is graduate of Duke University, and continued on to medical school at Emory University in Atlanta You can find Dr. Perry Liu on Google+.