Labiaplasty

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Editors-In-Chief: Martin I. Newman, M.D., FACS, Cleveland Clinic Florida, [1]; Michel C. Samson, M.D., FRCSC, FACS [2]

Overview

Labiaplasty (sometimes spelled labioplasty and sometimes referred to as labia minor reduction or labial reduction)[1] is plastic surgery of the labia majora and/or the labia minora, which are the external folds of skin surrounding the vaginal opening. The procedure involves reducing elongated labium. When labia are created where there were none, it is usually part of a vaginoplasty.

Surgical procedures

Labiaplasty reduces the size of one or both sets of labia. It may also be employed to repair the labia following disease or injury, or especially after childbirth. In addition, a hoodectomy may be performed at the same time, which exposes the clitoris in an attempt to increase sexual stimulation. Hoodectomy is sometimes used to treat sexual dysfunction such as anorgasmia.

As recently as 1999, surgeons usually performed labium reduction by straight amputation of the protuberant sections and then by suturing the edges together.[2] However, this procedure sometimes created a fragile and stiff suture line as well as eliminating the natural contour and pigmentation of the labia minora. Moreover, other procedural and clinical problems existed with amputation that did not ensure a favorable outcome.

Several years later, more surgeons introduced lasers into their armamentarium and began using more refined surgical procedures like one known as inferior wedge resection and superior pedicle flap reconstruction. In one outcome study, surgeons studied the results of 20 patients undergoing labiaplasty via the procedure. 95.2 percent of patients at 46 months reported being very satisfied. While five complications cropped up, all but one were handled immediately postoperatively and did not require additional hospital stays or interfere with healing.[3]

Labiaplasty is almost always an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia. After surgery, patients may experience some mild discomfort and swelling, which usually disappear completely after one to two weeks. Recovery times ranging from three days to one or two weeks are often listed on surgeons’ websites.

Risks

While statistics on any botched plastic surgery procedures are rare, the comparable rate of satisfaction for other commonly performed cosmetic plastic surgery procedures in the United States is about the same or slightly less than labiaplasty. According to Jeffrey Rawnsley, an assistant professor and director the UCLA Facial Aesthetic Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, about 90 percent of patients report a positive outcome for breast augmentation.[4] Experts report about an 85 percent positive outcome for rhinoplasty (the “nose job”), while liposuction patients in the late 1990s suffered a mortality rate of about 20 per 100,000, according to author Christine Rosen.[5] While liposuction outcome rates have improved, many breast augmentation and rhinoplasty revisions are performed worldwide, because the procedure was not done correctly the first time.

Labiaplasty—in comparison to other popular rejuvenation surgeries—requires additional treatment in five to seven percent of cases. While the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) listed only about 1000 “vaginal rejuvenations” during 2006, the most current year for which U.S. statistics have been compiled, surgeons in both the U.S. and the U.K.—as well as in other developed nations—report that the procedure seems to be growing exponentially. The professional plastic surgery organizations like ASPS, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) and the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons do not count labiaplasties among the other yearly statistics of plastic cosmetic procedures.

References

  1. Demand for 'Designer Vagina' Surgery Rising in U.K.", ABC News, 2007-05-25. Retrieved on 2007-05-29
  2. Maas, Sylvester M. M.D.; Hage J. Joris M.D., Ph.D Functional and Aesthetic Labia Minora Reduction. Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery 105(4)”1453-1456, April 2000
  3. Munhoz, Alexandre Mendonca M.D.; Filassi, Jose Roberto M.D., Ph.D.; Ricci, Marcos Desideno M.D.; Aldrighi, Claudio M.D.; Correia, Lelia Domingues M.D.; Aldrilghi, Jose Mendes M.D., Ph.D.; Ferreira, Marcus Castro M.D., Ph.D Aesthetic Labia Minora Reduction with Inferior Wedge Resection and Superior Pedicle Flap Reconstruction. Plastic & Reconstrucive Surgery, 118(5):1237-1247, October 2006
  4. http://www.cosmeticsurgery.com/articles/archive/an~119
  5. The Democratization of Beauty,” The New Atlantis, Number 5, Spring 2004

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