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Over time, women experience a myriad of changes to their bodies due to several factors as they get older, including the natural aging process, hormone fluctuations and environmental effects. Physical changes to your outer appearance are often the first thing you’ll notice as the aging process sets in, especially considering how often we look at our own reflections daily. However, it can be easy to overlook the influence the aging process has on other more intimate areas of your anatomy, especially the areas you do not see regularly.

With age comes changes in the tone and elasticity of your skin — and that means all of your skin. The supply of collagen and elastin responsible for keeping your skin supple and youthful starts to naturally decrease with age, and the amount of drooping and sagging tissues on your body increases. The options available today for smoothing out wrinkles or firming up lax skin are a considerable part of the cosmetic industry, but what many women may forget is that if the visible areas of your body are beginning to show your age, so are the less visible areas, including your genital region.

For most women, having an open discussion with their doctor about skin laxity in their labial and vaginal areas as well as weakness in the muscles of the vagina can feel embarrassing or uncomfortable. However, rest assured, if you are struggling with these concerns, you most certainly are not alone. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), labiaplasty is among one of the fastest-growing surgical procedures with over 12,000 women choosing to undergo labiaplasty surgery in 2018 — nearly a 53 percent increase from the five years prior.

At Urogynecology Center NoVa, double board-certified Dr. Maria Canter understands that female sexual health can be a sensitive topic for many women, but offers her patients a safe and supportive environment where they can openly discuss their intimate concerns. Dr. Canter feels privileged to be able to care for women not only by keeping them healthy but by renewing their self-confidence and restoring their quality of life. If you have concerns about the aesthetic appearance of your vaginal area or any issues with reduced function or pain and discomfort, Dr. Canter and her all-female staff at Urogynecology Center NoVa are here for you.

What Is a Labiaplasty?

“Vaginal rejuvenation”, or cosmetic vaginal surgery, are terms that encompass a number of different procedures designed to address both aesthetic and functional concerns around the female genitalia. At Urogynecology Center NoVa, we offer a multitude of both surgical and nonsurgical vaginal rejuvenation procedures intended to improve both the look and comfort of the genitals. Labiaplasty is the most commonly performed vaginal rejuvenation procedure. A labiaplasty is a surgical procedure designed to reduce the length of either your labia minora (inner lips of the vulva), labia majora (outer lips of the vulva) or both depending on your concerns.

The size and shape of the labia vary significantly from woman to woman, and the range for what is considered a “normal” labia appearance is vast. However, there are two main factors that can contribute to the lengthening, sagging or other changes to the labia’s appearance — childbearing and aging. While the skin of the labia is incredibly elastic, multiple childbirths fatigue the vaginal muscles, meaning that each time childbirth stretches the labia, the more difficult it is for it to return to its original size and shape.

Diminishing amounts of the structural proteins in your skin known as collagen and elastin as you age also affects the labia, as the skin loses significant elasticity over time. These changes to the labia can cause women to experience physical discomforts, such as from twisting or tugging of the skin during physical activities or constant itching and irritation. It may also lead to self-consciousness in women who are embarrassed about their labia’s appearance, resulting in decreased intimacy with their partner and taking a toll on their sense of well-being. A labiaplasty will shorten the length of the labial skin surgically, relieving any pain or discomfort as well as restoring your confidence in the appearance of your intimate area.

Who is a Candidate for Labiaplasty?

The labia are a sensitive area, and longer labia may be more prone to irritation or pain. Sagging, stretched, overly large or misshapen labia can cause women substantial discomfort when wearing specific clothing or exercising, as well as interfere with their body-image and self-esteem. The following are some of the more common reasons you may wish to consider labiaplasty surgery:

  • You have moderate to severe sagging in labial tissues
  • Your labia is overly large, misshapen or asymmetrical
  • You experience discomfort when doing physical activities that add friction to the vaginal area, such as riding a bike
  • You experience uncomfortable or painful intercourse due to your labia
  • You experience irritation from certain articles of clothing, such as underwear, swimwear or tight pants
  • You feel emotional or psychological distress from the appearance of your labia

As long as you are in good overall health, do not smoke and have realistic expectations as to what labiaplasty can do for you, you are likely an ideal candidate for this procedure. During your initial consultation at Urogynecology Center NoVa, Dr. Canter will carefully assess your medical history, concerns and goals to make an expert recommendation as to whether labiaplasty is right for you.

What to Expect From Your Labiaplasty Procedure

Labiaplasty surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, meaning you should be able to return home after your procedure. General anesthesia or local anesthesia with intravenous sedation can be utilized depending on your specific treatment plan. Dr. Canter will make small incisions in the labia majora, labia minora or both and remove any excess tissue to create the desired aesthetic results. The remaining tissue is tightened and reshaped to restore symmetry to the region, and the incisions are then closed with small sutures.

Types of Labiaplasty Procedures

Labiaplasty surgical techniques are relatively straightforward, safe and offer minimal risks for complications. Depending on your individual aesthetic concerns for your surgery and the results you hope to achieve, there are several techniques used to perform labiaplasty. Dr. Canter will help you to determine which approach will yield the best results for your unique case, but the two most common types of labiaplasty procedures used at Urogynecology NoVa include:

  • Edge Resection – Edge resection, also known as the trim technique, is the most commonly used surgical technique used in labiaplasty procedures. In this approach, Dr. Canter will create an incision that removes the outer edge of the inner labia, trimming away any excess skin along the labia to make the inner labia tissue even with the outer labia tissue. Once the excess skin is at a length that sits neatly tucked within the labia majora, Dr. Canter will carefully stitch the area closed with small sutures.
  • Wedge Method – The wedge technique is a newer alternative to the trim technique in labiaplasty procedures, and is designed to reduce any excess bulk from tissues in the labia minora to allow them to sit neatly within the labia majora. In this approach, Dr. Canter will remove a V-shaped wedge from both sides of the labia and stitch the remaining edges together using small sutures.

Regardless of the surgical technique used for your procedure, a labiaplasty will reduce the appearance of an enlarged labia to reveal a smoother and more comfortable look and feel to your intimate area. While labiaplasty surgery is often performed alone, you may also wish to undergo other complementary procedures for comprehensive vaginal rejuvenation results. Patients will often elect to have vaginoplasty, a procedure that repairs loose muscles of the vaginal wall, in conjunction with their labiaplasty to address all vaginal concerns after aging or childbirth. Patients may also be interested in Viveve, which is a gentle, nonsurgical treatment designed to reduce vaginal laxity or atrophy.

Recovering after Labiaplasty

Recovery following labiaplasty surgery is not extensive, but there are still a few restrictions. It is essential that you follow any post-operative instructions provided by Dr. Canter to ensure that your healing process goes as smoothly as possible. We recommend that you take a few days off from work (usually between three to five days), as there is often discomfort and swelling during the first week of your recovery. These side effects are temporary and can be managed easily with ice, elevating the area and over-the-counter pain medications.

It may take as long as six weeks or more for all residual swelling to recede. Still, most women are able to comfortably resume sexual intercourse with their partners, wear tampons and resume their regular exercise routine within four to six weeks of their labiaplasty procedure.

Possible Risks or Complications

As with any surgical procedure, labiaplasty does have some risks, but they are minimal. Most side effects after surgery are temporary and may include bruising, swelling or light bleeding. However, because every woman is different, other complications may include:

  • Asymmetrical results
  • Over-resection
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Loss of sensation
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Vaginal dryness

It is important to keep in mind that serious side effects are rare, and at Urogynecology Center NoVa, you are in expert hands. Dr. Canter is board-certified in both Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery as well as Obstetrics and Gynecology and is one of the first surgeons in the country to be board-certified in both specialties. Her education, experience and passion for caring for women ensure that your procedure will be safe and effective, and provide you with the best possible results.

Labiaplasty Results

As every woman heals at different rates, your body will need some time to recover from your labiaplasty procedure before your final results are revealed. Most patients will begin to see their results emerge over the weeks and months following their procedure as swelling gradually reduces and incision lines start to fade. Once fully healed, you will observe a shorter labial region that hangs at an aesthetically-pleasing length and no longer causes irritation and discomfort.

Patients are usually very pleased with both the aesthetic and functional enhancements provided by their procedure. According to several studies, labiaplasty has a very high patient satisfaction rate of over 90 percent due to the relief women find from any discomfort. The results of labiaplasty are also designed to be long-lasting. While your labial tissues will never be immune to the effects of time and the natural aging process, any changes experienced in the region will be mild compared to what you would experience without the procedure.

If changes to your labia are causing you to experience embarrassment, discomfort or pain, it might be time to learn more about what labiaplasty surgery can do for you. Dr. Maria Canter has served women from all walks of life in the Northern Virginia area for over 12 years and prides herself on helping them renew their confidence and restore their quality of life.

The information about labiaplasty was reviewed by Dr. Maria Canter. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us using our contact form below.

Call Urogynecology Center NoVa today to schedule a consultation.703-293-5239