Medically Reviewed May 2022, by Mr Sankar - Chief Medical Officer for The Harley Medical Group
A labiaplasty (often known as labial reduction surgery) is a surgical procedure that aims to correct labial hypertrophy by reshaping and reducing the labia minora/majora, the inner and outer of the ‘lips’ that surround the opening of the vagina.
Reasons for undergoing labial reduction surgery
- Enlarged and elongated labial, causing discomfort when wearing certain clothing
- Discomfort during activities such as cycling, walking or during sexual intercourse
- Your labial's appearance that makes you feel unhappy or self-conscious
- Change in shape or size from childbirth leaving you feeling self-conscious
Labiaplasty is the term used to describe a range of surgical procedures that reduce the size, shape and prominence of the labia.
Labial reduction takes between one and two hours and can be performed under local anaesthesia, which means you will be awake but the area will be completely numb, or under a general anaesthesia which means you are asleep during the procedure. Any cuts that are made are carefully placed to prevent scarring along the rim of the labia and are closed with dissolvable sutures.
You can expect mild discomfort and swelling for a few days after the operation which usually disappears completely after 3-4 weeks. This can be managed by taking painkillers.
A week after surgery you should be able to return to work, and be able to resume normal daily activity after 2-3 weeks. However, we advise against sexual activity for 4-6 weeks following surgery, and tampons should not be used during the first six weeks.
In the first week after surgery the area is likely to be swollen and bruised. An ice pack or bag of frozen peas can be used to alleviate the discomfort and reduce the swelling but make sure that the ice does not come into direct contact with the skin. Wrap the ice pack with a soft towel to protect the skin. You will be given a leaflet that explains fully how to look after the vulval area in the week following surgery.
The labial incisions usually heal quickly and are rarely noticeable.
To ensure a swift recovery with optimum results we have recommended aftercare guidelines including:
- You will return from theatre with a sanitary pad in place, you must wear one of these continuously until your post-operative appointment.
- You will not be permitted to drive for 1 week following surgery; arrangements must be made for you to be collected.
- You must start to shower twice daily upon your discharge – DO NOT use soap directly on the area for the first 7 days.
- You must drink between 2 – 3 litres of water for the initial 2 weeks following surgery.
- Avoid wearing thong underwear for 6 weeks following surgery.
You practitioner and surgeon will be able to advise you on your complete Cosmetic Gynaecology aftercare guidelines
Meet the experts
Frequently Asked Questions
Labiaplasty is a cosmetic gynaecology procedure that can reduce the size of the labia minora (skin flaps either side of the vaginal opening).
Labiaplasty is one of the most common female cosmetic surgery procedures in the UK, and aims to improve the self-esteem of women who are worried about the appearance of their vagina.
Labiaplasty surgery is not recommended for girls under the age of 18.
Some numbness may be experienced immediately following labiaplasty, however loss of feeling in the longer term is uncommon. In comparison, many patients experienced increased sensation due to the removal of excess skin that may have previously been uncomfortable.
It normally takes two to three weeks for the labia minora to heal following surgery.
Things to Consider
It is important that your decision to have a Cosmetic Surgery procedure is considered carefully.
There are many points that should be considered before deciding to have any type of Cosmetic Treatment or Surgery. There are also some possible risks, as with all surgical operations, which your Cosmetic Surgeon will talk through and explain to you at your consultation, answering any questions you may have. This is your opportunity to discuss your intended surgery in order for the Cosmetic Surgeon to ascertain your expectations as to what can realistically be achieved.
Every Cosmetic Surgeon who performs reshaping and tightening of the female genitalia surgery for The Harley Medical Group belongs to a relevant professional organisation, is fully accredited to practice in the UK as a specialist in Plastic Surgery, and has specific training and experience in Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Our nurses advise that you consider the following things before your surgery:
- Child care and post surgery activities including sleeping arrangements
- That you have the necessary post-operative garments
- How long the effects of treatment keep you away from your usual activities
- At what stage you will be able to judge the results of the procedure
- How long the results last
- When you can return to work
Our Cosmetic Surgeons are among the most skilled, qualified and experienced in the Cosmetic Surgery field and our fully qualified Cosmetic Surgery Nurses are specially selected for their expertise and approachability. It is your body so naturally you will want to place it in safe and trusted hands.
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