Labiaplasty

The labia minora are the inner folds of skin closest to the external opening of the vagina.

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Labiaplasty

Labiaplasty (also occasionally called labioplasty) is a procedure most commonly used to address prominent labia minora but also to address scars associated with episiotomy or tears during childbirth and prominent clitoral hooding. Many women also have differences from side to side and this procedure can be used to create a more even appearance.

Prominent labia minora are frequently associated with symptoms of irritation and inflammation especially associated with tight fitting clothing. This can lead to pain and discomfort that can be most notable while wearing tight clothing, the dissipating in sporting activities and can also lead to pain during sexual intercourse (dyspareunia). Apart from physical symptoms many women also experience psychological distress associated with the appearance of prominent labia minora. This distress can interfere with the enjoyment of physical intimacy due to embarrassment or uncertainty regarding the appearance of this area. For some women excessive hooding of the clitoris may reduce sexual stimulation.

This is a common concern affecting many women. Because of the private nature of these concerns it is a problem that is frequently not discussed.

Many women have these concerns addressed with labiaplasty.

Aims of surgery:

The aim of surgery is to create a more even and appealing vulva (external genital organs of the female). Surgery is most frequently used to address elongated labia minora which reduces irritation and inflammation associated with increased prominence. Less frequently women will have surgery to reduce their clitoral hood to increase sexual stimulation.

What causes problems of the labia minora:

For most women there is a genetic component both changes can certainly developed in association with hormonal influences and especially following childbirth. With normal ageing there are also further changes that develop and this problem may become more apparent in later years for some people.

What happens during surgery:

Surgery can be performed under local anaesthetic or with a general anaesthetic (fully asleep).

Whether wake or asleep local anaesthetic is injected to reduce bleeding and discomfort both during and following the surgery.

During surgery the excess tissue is removed from the labia minora so that they no longer protrude beyond the margin of the labia majora.

Absorbable sutures are used to repair the wound which means that sutures do not require removal following surgery.

There is an immediate and permanent change to the appearance of this area.

Recovery:

Sutures do not specifically need to be removed and will dissolve.

Pain following this surgery is usually of a mild to moderate degree of discomfort. Cool packs used following surgery may help to reduce swelling which will tend to increase for the first two or three days following surgery. From this point the resolution of swelling is usually quite rapid and the majority of the swelling has resolved at one week for most women.

Gentle bathing of this area is carried out morning and night following surgery. Patients apply petroleum jelly, wear panty liners, loose cotton underwear and nonrestrictive clothing to prevent irritation of the wound for the first 7 to 10 days. Most life activities are being undertaken normally from seven days although it does take longer to reintroduce tight fitting clothing, activities such as exercise and sexual intercourse. Occasional patients will take longer to recover but most will return to sedentary jobs within a few days, low-impact sports from two weeks, more exertive sport from about three or four weeks and sexual intercourse by four weeks.

Results:

There are immediate and permanent changes to the appearance of this area following surgery. These changes improve as swelling resolves following surgery and final results are apparent for most ladies at about four weeks.

The majority of patients who presented initially with symptoms of irritation and inflammation will have a gratifying resolution of these symptoms. Most will have a complete resolution but some will have an improvement but still the occasional symptoms.

Patients who were initially embarrassed about the appearance of the vulva will often find the changes liberating. Many patients experience increased sexual stimulation following surgery especially when surgery is used to address the excessive clitoral hooding.

Is surgery undertaken in a hospital:

For all patients wanting to be asleep during surgery (general anaesthesia) surgery is undertaken in an accredited hospital. Surgery is performed as a day procedure. For patients choosing to have surgery awake under local anaesthetic it can be performed either in a day hospital setting or Dr Magnusson’s rooms.

When procedure is performed in the operating suite at Dr Magnusson’s rooms rather than in a hospital procedural costs are significantly reduced for uninsured patients.

Is there any assistance from my health fund or Medicare:

For patients seeking a labiaplasty for medical concerns (symptoms associated with irritation, inflammation, dyspareunia or discomfort with certain clothing or during exercise) Medicare and your health fund (if you have one) will contribute to the costs involved. A health fund will contribute to the private hospital theatre and accommodation costs, medicare and your health fund will contribute to the medical costs (anaesthetists, and Dr Magnusson’s fee). For uninsured patients Medicare will not contribute to hospital costs which are therefore an out-of-pocket expense for the patient.

Do I need a referral:

A referral from a GP is required for those patients able to receive a health funds and Medicare rebate due to symptoms.

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