What is labial reduction?
Some women develop large labia (vaginal lips) either when they go through puberty, or often after pregnancy. They may find it embarrassing as it can sometimes show through underwear and swimwear. It can also be uncomfortable during activity and exercise and may lead to sexual dissatisfaction as well.
This is an operation to reduce the size of protruding inner lips of the vaginal opening (labia minora) to make them more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing.
How is it performed?
I prefer to perform labiaplasty under a general anaesthetic, though I use local anaesthetic if the patient desires.It is usually performed as a day case. The operation takes about an hour to an hour and a half.
The incisions are marked and the excess part of the labia minora that protrudes is trimmed or a ‘V’ wedge of tissue is excised. When this is closed it has the effect of reducing the protrusion. Absorbable sutures are used to close the wound.
What is the postoperative care?
You will feel some soreness, which is worsened by movement as this creates friction. You should therefore take things really easy for 1-2 weeks to reduce soreness and the risk of complications. Also avoid standing for long periods, rather sit with legs elevated and reclining during the first 1-2 weeks.
You will need to perform twice daily showers and salt water baths (‘sitz baths’) of the area to keep it as clean as possible and also to help reduce swelling.
You may need to wear pads for 4-6 weeks after the operation. There may be mild bleeding which just stains the pad especially in the first few days.
Most people are able to return to work at 2-weeks, although strenuous activity and sports should be avoided for 4-6 weeks. Sexual intercourse should also be avoided for 4-6 weeks following the operation.
What are the risks of this operation?
Labial reduction surgery has a high success rate.
Occasionally blood collects and causes swelling (haematoma) needing to be drained in theatre.
Infection and wound breakdown can occur resulting in delayed healing and a setback of the recovery process by 4-6 weeks.
The scar settles quite well and is usually barely perceptible. Very rarely the scar may be tight and require further treatment.
There may be minor degrees of asymmetry, which are best left alone. Gross asymmetry may be improved by revision surgery.
Rarely, clitoral sensitivity due to exposure can occur as well as a general sensitivity of the area.