Every woman is unique and different when it comes to the shape and size of her labia. Most probably don’t think about this hidden part of their body very often, unless it’s causing them pain or discomfort. For a small percentage of women, however, this is exactly what they have to deal with on a daily basis.
If you find yourself having to carefully plan your clothing options and reposition your labia before getting dressed to avoid discomfort and irritation, then you may have a condition called labia hypertrophy.
This occurs when the labia minora is enlarged and disproportionate, often getting in the way of your daily activities. You may experience painful chaffing and friction when crossing your legs, riding a bike, running, or wearing tight-fitting clothing.
You may even feel self-conscious and avoid certain types of clothing altogether, such as bikini bottoms and shorts, worried that your elongated labia or “bulge” will be visible to others.
What is Labia Hypertrophy?
A woman’s external genital anatomy, the vulva, contains two sets of skin folds – the larger outer folds (labia majora) and smaller inner folds (labia minora). The term “labia hypertrophy” can refer to either enlarged labia majora or labia minora (or both).
In either case, having this condition doesn’t always mean the presence of a medical problem. In fact, most women will never experience any issues due to the size or shape of their labia. That’s because it’s perfectly normal to have some asymmetry in this area and it’s even common for one side of the labia minora to be longer, bigger or thicker than the other.
Labia Hypertrophy can become troublesome, however, when any of the following symptoms are present:
- Severe Labia Hypertrophy – this is an embarrassing and noticeable bulge that can be seen when wearing revealing or tight clothing, such as swimwear or exercise clothing.
- Pain, Irritation, Discomfort – elongated labia can get caught or rub against your underwear and become painful during sex or other physical activities. It can lead to chronic irritation due to the constant friction and chaffing.
- Increased Infection – enlarged labial folds can make it difficult to keep the area clean, especially if you’re in constant pain and wish to avoid touching this area. Poor hygiene can increase your chances of developing an infection that may require medical treatment.
- Emotional distress – severe labia hypertrophy can result in feelings of isolation, embarrassment and self-consciousness.
Labiaplasty Surgical Treatment
If you’re affected by labia hypertrophy you are not alone. In fact, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 12,000 women sought treatment for labia hypertrophy or related conditions in 2016*. Currently, the gold standard treatment for correcting enlarged or elongated labia is labiaplasty.
During labioplasty surgery, your cosmetic surgeon trims away excess tissue, closing the incisions with absorbable sutures. Whether it’s performed for medical or cosmetic reasons, a labiaplasty can correct any abnormality and asymmetry, effectively reshaping and reducing the size of the labia minora for improved functionality, comfort and appearance.
What does Labiaplasty Involve?
When it comes to labiaplasty surgery there are two methods – the trim technique (also called edge trim technique) and the wedge technique. Both are good options, although each method has definite pros and cons.
The trim technique involves making an incision and removing the outer edges of the labia minora, bringing it in line with the labia majora. This method is by far the most popular and preferred by surgeons for a number of reasons.
Firstly, patient satisfaction is very high and the trim method has an excellent safety record. Furthermore, this technique removes excess tissue without adversely affecting the clitoral hood or surrounding area. Finally, the darkest folds of the labia are removed, a big cosmetic plus and benefit for a lot of women.
A notable disadvantage of the trim technique would be the visible scar; however, in the hands of an experienced vaginal rejuvenation surgeon any scarring is minimal and virtually invisible.
The wedge technique is the most recent addition to the list of labiaplasty options. The surgeon removes a “wedge” or “v” shaped flap of skin from the center of the labia and then stitches the remaining edges together. This results in a trimmed labia minora and more ‘tidy’ overall appearance around the clitoris.
This technique is chosen primarily because it preserves the “natural” edge of the labia and therefore produces a more natural-looking result. The wedge method leaves the darkest areas of the labia intact, however, which may not be suitable for some women.
Which technique is right for you?
Your physician may consider many different factors when choosing the right technique. Keep in mind that labiaplasty surgery can address irregularities in both the labia majora and labia minora if necessary. Depending on your individual concerns and objectives, as well as your natural anatomy, one technique may give you a superior outcome and higher overall satisfaction.
Since so many variables can influence your labiaplasty surgery results, we recommend booking a consultation with your surgeon to help you determine the right procedure for you.
What to Expect After Surgery
Regardless of the technique, you’ll be able to see the results right away. Furthermore, as the swelling and inflammation go down over the course of several weeks and months, the appearance of your new labia will only improve over time.
Immediately after surgery you’ll be moved to a recovery room and cold compresses will be applied to the treatment areas. This helps to minimize swelling and inflammation. You’ll be sent home with pain medications and antibiotics to help with healing and make your recovery more comfortable.
In the first several days post procedure you’ll want to stay home and rest, avoiding placing undue pressure on the treated area. Going to the bathroom will not be a problem and you’ll be given detailed instructions on proper hygiene to prevent any infection or complications. Your sutures will dissolve on their own within 3-4 weeks and a follow up appointment will be booked to ensure your healing process is going smoothly.
Dr. Ammar Nokari is a NYC physician and surgeon specializing in surgical vaginal rejuvenation. Dr. Nokari is an expert in both labiaplasty methods in New York City – the trim technique and the wedge technique. The best way to know which option is right for you is to schedule your no-obligation consultation at Labiaplasty NYC.