You can’t help but notice your labia have undergone some changes that aren’t altogether wanted. Sagging, loose, or excess skin are common effects of childbirth – and other moments in a woman’s life – but we have good news. Dustin C. Derrick, MD, the lead plastic surgeon at Cosmetic Surgery of DFW for Mommy Makeovers in Fort Worth TX, can perform a labiaplasty as part of your makeover to tighten loose tissues and restore labia contours.
What Is a Labiaplasty?
The female body is constantly in motion. Even when you’re simply sitting or lying, hormones are always fluctuating and tissues are always changing. This of course also applies to the labia minora, skin outside of the vagina, and around the clitoris that forms “lips.” The labia can grow at almost any time in a woman’s life, including during puberty, after pregnancy, following weight loss, and with age.
For many women, the appearance of their labia causes discomfort; they want this most intimate of body parts to look pert, youthful, and pretty. A labiaplasty provides exactly that: a smaller labia minora that is more proportionate to the size of the labia major, or outer component of the vagina. We can also perform this treatment in conjunction with a clitoral hood reduction to achieve a fully flush appearance.
How Does Labiaplasty Work?
This treatment can be important to women for a number of reasons. Some want to feel more comfortable with their bodies, others want to restore their confidence sexually, and still others want to wear tight clothing without fear of their genitals showing. Your reason is an important component in developing your treatment plan because it tells us what you hope to achieve. It is therefore one of the first things we’ll discuss with you.
A labiaplasty involves one of two approaches. The trim technique simply removes excess labial tissue. We then place sutures along the perimeter so this tissue is aligned with the labia major. In a second technique, the wedge, a pie-shaped portion of tissue is removed and sutures follow the labia’s natural contours.
The Trim Technique
The key factor in this is the removal of excess skin along the entire length of the labia minora. Widely considered the most popular technique, it improves symmetry between the lips and reduces overall length. This technique also eliminates hyperpigmented tissue to restore a pink hue to the labia’s visible edges. After treatment, women enjoy a revival of the overall appearance of their tissues.
The Wedge Technique
The goal of this method is to achieve a V-shape with the labia minora by removing a central wedge. The remaining front and back tissues are then joined together. Many find this to be ideal for achieving symmetry or eliminating excess tissue from the middle third portion of the labia. A downside with this technique is that it does not remove hyperpigmented tissues, but the overall outcomes are very natural looking.
The Benefits of Treatment
Demand for this therapy has increased by 200 percent since 2015, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. And it’s not limited to women of a certain age; those across the spectrum, from their 20s to their 50s, seek a labiaplasty because their anatomy has changed, they feel shy about their bodies, or they want to improve aesthetics.
While there is no standard labia, many women don’t like the way theirs looks. Media portrayals of perfectly rounded contours throughout the female body have some responsibility for this. But other contributing factors include Brazilian waxes, in which the genitals are exposed in a way that they previously were not, allowing women to better see themselves “down there.” Treatment can restore a more feminine shape and appealing color to tissues.
For some women, the motivating factor is physical comfort. The labia can be large enough to rub clothing in a way that is irritating, and a labiaplasty corrects this. An over-long labia can also cause discomfort during exercise, can go numb while riding a bicycle, or can interfere with sexual intercourse. By reducing tissue in this region, we make previously challenging activities much more enjoyable.
Once the excess skin is removed, we’re able to expose the clitoris more fully for sexual pleasure. Some women report this is the greatest benefit afforded by treatment, as it allows them to explore their sexuality in a completely new way.
Loose or sagging tissues in the labia are vulnerable to painful twisting and pulling caused by nothing more than sitting or lying down. Even walking can be painful in some cases. Treatment, in a sense, protects this sensitive area and helps women be less “aware” of their bodies. It also promotes hygiene by letting women cleanse more thoroughly, thereby reducing the risk of :
- Urinary tract infections
- Harmful bacteria growth
- Unwanted hair
- Irritating skin infections
More Wardrobe Options
A pronounced labia makes certain wardrobe options, like yoga pants and leggings, nearly impossible. Not only does it leave you feeling vulnerable to criticism, but it can also rub the skin in a way that causes chafing. Sometimes, the labia are large enough that they spill out of a bikini bottom. After treatment, you’ll be able to enjoy a wider range of clothing options without worry, including sexy swimwear and body-skimming dresses.
The Purpose of Treatment
It’s important to know that treatment does not seek to restore labia to a medical ideal. These body parts come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. What we do want is to improve your relationship with your body as a whole. The vagina is a common and often unforgiving source of worry for women. More specifically, we tend to feel vastly insecure about our labia. Are they too big…too small…too protruding…a funny color?
Some of this fear is rooted in the silence that surrounds the labia. Discussions about them simply don’t exist, even when we’re in the company of our doctor. Even worse, no woman ever wants to ask her partner if these intimate parts are attractive. We therefore have no idea if our labia look “normal” or not.
Forget About the Concept of Normal
The answer is that a normal standard doesn’t exist. The only factor our office takes into consideration is how you feel about your labia both emotionally and physically. Although the average length of these tissues is approximately 1 inch from base to tip, variations of all kinds exist. Candidacy for treatment, then, is based on how you feel about your labia appearance. Other factors we take into consideration include:
- Your age (you must be 18 years or older)
- Your current health status
- If you have a positive attitude toward treatment
- Whether you experience discomfort with physical activities because of your labia
- If your labia’s appearance makes you self-conscious
The Importance of Self-Image
The relationship you have with your body is crucial to a positive self-image, which is how you see yourself as both a person and a physical body. A healthy image means you’re comfortable in your own skin and look at sex, which comprises a piece of the self-image whole, in a healthy, vibrant way. Choosing to have treatment does not mean something is necessarily wrong with your labia but that you respect yourself enough to want to look and feel your best.
As women change, their self-image can diminish because their bodies also change. Society interferes with this concept by perpetuating the notion that women who have given birth or are in menopause have lost their sexuality. Just the opposite is true; women start to come into their own later in life, after they’ve blossomed from motherhood and their careers start to flourish. This means all women should feel free to express themselves as sexual beings.
What Treatment Can Accomplish
Treatment can help you walk with a lighter step, help you lift your face just a fraction higher as you navigate daily tasks. What we’re saying is that it can restore confidence to your soul. Tissues that are shorter, tighter, pinker, and more symmetrical will help you feel rejuvenated as you learn your body is a machine that deserves love.
Is This the Same As a Vaginal Rejuvenation?
Speaking of rejuvenation, many women wonder if labiaplasty is the same as vaginal rejuvenation. The answer is no, as the latter refers to treatment that focuses on the vaginal canal. The goal is to restore tightness and strength to the vagina, helping undo the effects of childbirth, aging, and hormonal fluctuations. This is achieved by removing excess vaginal skin and lifting the bladder and bladder neck.
What You Need to Know About the Labia
Females are born with two sets of labia, both of which can be found on the vulva. The outer labia are larger and referred to as the labia majora. Filled with fat, these tissues serve a biological function in that they protect the smaller and more delicate labia minora. Medically, all labia are known to have “normal variation” because they differ so significantly in terms of appearance. That is to say, your labia probably look different from any other woman’s.
Together, both sets of labia protect the opening that leads to the urethra and vagina. This is important to keep out harmful bacteria and to serve as a barrier between fragile organs and the external world.
As explained earlier, these lips (labia is Latin for lips) can change at any time because they are influenced by so many different factors. This means the labia appearance you have today likely isn’t what you had years ago. We can correct this with treatment, which even works to give life to flat or deflated lips that seem to have lost their previously plump beauty.
In talking about the years to come, now is the right time to mention that labiaplasty results are permanent. While they may be slightly altered with childbirth or aging, you’ll enjoy your new appearance for many years to come.
When Is the Right Time for Treatment?
It is almost always better to have treatment now than to wait. It simply doesn’t make sense to prolong the physical and emotional stress you might otherwise continue to have. Treatment takes just about an hour, and visible improvements will begin to develop in just one week.
Keep in mind your full results will be seen within about three months. Recovery doesn’t last that long, however. Most patients return to work within five to seven days, although you will need to wait between four and six weeks to resume sexual activity and vigorous exercise. This gives your body the time it needs to heal.
The Makeover You Need
This treatment can help you look and feel younger while also improving your body image. What are you waiting for? To schedule your Mommy Makeover consultation with Dustin C. Derrick, MD, at Cosmetic Surgery of DFW in Fort Worth, TX, call us today at (817) 562-7979.