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Common Misconceptions About Labiaplasty: Part 1

There are several misconceptions that exist regarding labiaplasty. In this two-part blog series, I will describe many of these misunderstandings and set the labiaplasty record straight!

“Labiaplasty is really painful.”

Although the external genitalia is a sensitive and delicate part of the body, labiaplasty surgery is surprisingly straightforward and easy to recover from! We give our patients a prescription for narcotic pain medication; they usually take it for the first 24 hours and move to TYLENOL® alone after that.

“Labiaplasty is only for porn stars.” Or, “Labiaplasty is sought by women who want to look like porn stars.”

This could not be further from the truth! Many patients seeking labiaplasty are young women (age 15 and older) who have physical discomfort from their labia minora hanging lower than their labia majora. The tissue can get stuck to their legs and cause pain and tearing, particularly during sports. Sometimes, they need to move the extra flaps of tissue out of the way so that when they urinate, the stream is directed straight into the toilet, instead of having their pee hit their inner thigh. This may sound crazy and be “too much information” to some, but it is reality for some patients seeking a labiaplasty!

Other women are less concerned about the cosmetic appearance of surgery; they simply wish to feel more comfortable in a bathing suit, yoga pants, or thong underwear. Their excessive labia minora tissue can slip out and be visible as extra folds, causing them to want to “adjust themselves” like males often do. They are not looking for a “perfect vagina.” In contrast, they just want to feel more comfortable in intimate situations, in the locker room or change room of their gym or health club, and to not feel self-conscious while wearing form-fitting lower body garments.

“Labiaplasty is ‘vaginal rejuvenation.’”

This is not entirely accurate, and involves semantics (the actual meaning of the word ‘vagina’). The labia is part of the external genitalia, not the internal vagina, which is part of the internal genitalia. Some surgeons have chosen to call labiaplasty ‘surgery of the vagina’ to increase awareness of this procedure by the general public, as not everyone knows the difference between labia minora, labia majora, vagina, external versus internal genitalia, etc. (See a diagram of the actual anatomy here.) However, a labiaplasty only trims excess labia minora tissue (and sometimes labia majora and/or the clitoral hood region). It does not tighten the vaginal walls and cannot fix weakness or stretching-out of the vagina from having children. Thus, calling it “vaginal rejuvenation” is misleading and likely marketing terminology.

You can read more on my opinion regarding this terminology in my previous blog post about why some Plastic Surgeons call labiaplasty ‘vaginal surgery.’

“Labiaplasty will need to be redone after having children by vaginal delivery or with increased age.”

Wrong! Labiaplasty is a one-time procedure. The results are permanent and will NOT need to be redone with age, time, gravity, childbearing, vaginal (or C-section) deliveries, or menopause. This is part of the reason why women are so happy with their results! I like to see my patients in long-term follow-up after their labiaplasty to ensure everything is still looking good and feeling good for many years after surgery.

Stay Tuned

For the truth about various other labiaplasty misconceptions, stay tuned for part two of my blog series in which I will clear the air on five more common misunderstandings. If you are interested in labiaplasty and would like to schedule a consultation, please feel free to contact my practice online or by telephone at 415-923-3067.

– Dr. Karen Horton, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon

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Dr. Karen M. Horton, M.D. - Plastic Surgery, Physicians & Surgeons - Medical-M.D., San Francisco, CA