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Labiaplasty, the surgical reduction of the labia minora, the inner lips of the vaginal lips, is an increasingly popular cosmetic surgery procedure. Women from their teens on often consider treatment for what can be an embarrassing condition – labia enlargement. The surgical goal is to reduce the size of a woman's labia minora and make them more symmetrical so they don't protrude or hang beyond the labia majora. Women often consider the surgery to avoid embarrassment, the stigma of labial enlargement that can be seen through clothing or observed in intimate situations, for comfort, and less commonly for chafing. In some circumstances, psychosocial and functional difficulties, as well as physical discomfort, are motivations for women to undergo the procedure. Labial enlargement may be due to hereditary congenital anomaly, due to aging, pregnancies or a variety of other causes.
The surgical procedure to reduce labia is done as an outpatient procedure and often takes less than one hour. There is minimal discomfort associated with it and the sutures that are used dissolve on their own. Following surgery, patients should avoid sexual encounters, significant physical exertion and exercise for approximately one month. The condition rarely recurs and is often lasts a lifetime.
In certain conditions, the labia, in addition to being shortened, can be "plumped" and filled to give the labia a more youthful appearance. This can be done with or without the surgical procedure.
In a review article published in a plastic surgery journal, Dr. Matarasso et al., published "Labioplasty: Anatomy, Etiology and a New Surgical Approach" which provides a comprehensive summary of the procedure. Over the years, the techniques have varied for treating labial enlargement. In the review, Dr. Matarasso described the technique that he uses, known as the double wedge "star" excision. The "star" labiaplasty provides the surgeon with the ability to perform a preferential excision (meaning one side more than the other if indicated), and flexibility in design, which leads to a more symmetric appearance of the two sides.
Recent studies indicate that labiaplasty has a high degree of patient satisfaction and success. Complications are infrequent but can include hematoma, infection, and wound breakdown.
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The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.