Over the past couple of years, I have seen more women seeking consultation for labiaplasty than ever before. Many people have speculated as to why there is increasing interest in these procedures, and explanations include social trends toward greater hair removal in the genital region thereby exposing the area more, as well as greater societal exposure to nudity. Patients seek out treatment for a variety of reasons and come from all walks of life. Some women feel self-conscious about the way they appear even if no one else sees the area. Others develop irritation and physical symptoms related to pressure from excessive or protrusive tissues. Specific reasons that women seek consultation include:
1) The desire to reduce the size or improve the shape of the labia minora or labia majora for cosmetic purposes. Many view the excessive and protrusive tissues as appearing “stretched” or excessive, and not youthful. As with other aesthetic procedures, correction can improve self-confidence.
2) The desire to reduce the labia minora size because of irritation, pressure, or pinching during sports, exercise or certain activities. There are also circumstances in which such individuals are uncomfortable during sexual relations secondary to traction and irritation.
3) Many women have an imbalance in size or an irregular shape that gives the appearance of an “abnomality” and can cause patients to feel self-conscious.
Although labiaplasty is offered by a variety of medical professionals, I believe that the well-trained plastic surgeon is ideally suited to handle this kind of operation with skill and finesse. While historically, many surgeons simply “cut off” the extra tissue and “sew it up,” such procedures can leave a lengthier scar at the edge of the labia and could result in increased sensitivity in that area. My own philosophy, on the other hand, is to bring the principles of plastic surgery to this arena and use smaller scars and avoid placing them along the labial edge when feasible. These techniques have proved very worthwhile.
I feel very privileged to be able to offer two options to patients at my center in Encino/Los Angeles, California. One option is the full labiaplasty procedure performed without the need for general anesthesia. Patients remain completely comfortable and pain-free while the correction is performed, but are able to be discharged in a short time, alert and awake, and without having the after-effects of anesthesia or the need to have bloodwork checked in advance. The total cost for this option is also lower, with fees that are some of the most affordable in plastic surgery. The other option is the use of general anesthesia, which provides the ultimate in ease for the patient experience. Patients who undergo labiaplasty under general anesthesia tell me that the procedure seemed to have taken “only a few minutes.”
Many patients begin their journey toward this procedure by reading reviews such as this one and gaining awareness of what is involved. The next step for interested patients is the scheduling of a consultation to assess each patient’s specific needs. At the first visit, I typically give my patients the information they need to understand the procedure and the risks, discuss the option of having it done with or without general anesthesia, and provide a copy of the aftercare instructions so that each individual is well-prepared in advance. The recovery is not very difficult, and often requires only a few days off work if one’s job is office-based.
For greater detail and real case analyses, you can find more detail at my web site: www.drberger.com.