Labia Reduction Surgery in St. Louis
Some women are not comfortable with the way their labia—considered part of the female external genital organs—look or feel. Overly large or irregular labia might be due to the physical trauma of childbirth or simple genetics, but no matter the cause, there is a solution for women who want it: labiaplasty. St. Louis' West County Plastic Surgeons of Washington University offers labia reduction surgery to alter the size, shape, or both of the vaginal lips.
Labiaplasty can make labia appear smaller and more symmetrical and reduce discomfort associated with excess tissue. Because labiaplasty focuses on these external organs, it is not a procedure to address urinary incontinence, flagging libido, or vaginal tightening.
West County Plastic Surgeons is committed to helping women get a better quality of life, including via labiaplasty, in St. Louis at Washington University. Come in for a consultation. Call (314) 996-8800 or send a message online.Request Your Consultation
What Are the Labia?
Known as the vulva, a woman's external genitals are surrounded by two sets of folded tissue: the outer labia (labia majora) and inner labia (labia minora). The labia minora have a fold at the top that covers the clitoris.
The labia's purpose is to protect the openings and more delicate parts of the vaginal area. Labia come in a range of shapes, sizes, and colors, with no single look being "typical." That said, some women's personal preference is for their labia to be small and unobtrusive—whether for cosmetic reasons, comfort reasons, or both.
When discussing labiaplasty, the procedure is typically used to refer to surgery performed on the labia minora, though the labia majora may also be altered.
Why Address the Labia with Labiaplasty?
Women who have lived with labia they find to be dissatisfying or who have noticed that their labia have changed due to childbirth or aging may consider labiaplasty to address any number of complaints.
- Larger labia have the potential to be visible when yoga pants, bathing suits, or similar items are worn.
- One half of the labia may be larger than the other, creating a look of asymmetry.
- Large labia may increase friction and lead to discomfort during exercise or other strenuous activity.
- Enlarged labia can cause intercourse to feel uncomfortable or even painful.
A labiaplasty involves the surgical removal of excess tissue to make the labia appear more symmetrical and smaller, as well as feel less obtrusive. It can also include clitoral hood reduction to reduce the amount of covering over this sensitive organ and increase sensitivity during intercourse.
At West County Plastic Surgeons, the labiaplasty procedure takes about 45 to 90 minutes and can be performed with the patient under general anesthesia or using local anesthesia.
Since this is a surgical procedure, labiaplasty patients need to plan downtime for rest and recovery. Women can expect to return to work and basic life activities a week after their labiaplasty, but must refrain from exerting themselves for about two weeks and avoid vaginal intercourse for about six weeks following the surgery.
Expected side effects are common to surgery and include bruising and swelling. Some patients may also experience "spitting sutures," which is when the body pushes sutures out in the weeks after a surgical procedure. This is normal, but any such spitting should be kept clean to avoid infection.
Women who want to see before-and-after photos of labiaplasty patients, in order to get an idea of what the procedure can do, can talk to the doctor during the consultation. Due to the intimate and sensitive nature of the surgery, images are not displayed online.
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Women who are looking to address vaginal laxity can consider vaginoplasty, which narrows the vaginal canal.
For symptoms of vaginal atrophy and a weak pelvic floor, women can choose nonsurgical vaginal rejuvenation via radio frequency. This radiofrequency device stimulates natural collagen production to improve conditions in the vaginal area without the need for incisions or sutures. The energy delivered by this treatment causes tissues to tighten and thicken. It also provides a boost to moisture, helping the vaginal canal to stay well lubricated.
A woman's vaginal area, from the external labia to the internal canal—and more—should function and look the way she wants it to. Changes, whether brought about by a rejuvenating treatment or surgical labiaplasty, are personal and worthy of serious thought and consideration. The West County Plastic Surgeons team is prepared to answer questions and help each patient gain as thorough an understanding as possible of the options so she can decide what is best for her own body.