Miss Victoria Rose, plastic surgeon at Spire Manchester, explains more about 'designer vagina' procedures: labioplasty and vaginoplasty - procedures aimed at improving the aesthetic appearance and the function of the female genital area.
What is labioplasty?
Labioplasty is also known as labia reduction, vaginal lip reduction or labia rejuvenation. It refers to a group of operations performed to reduce the size of the labia minora. It is indicated if a woman has labial hypertrophy.
What is labial hypertrophy?
Labial Hypertrophy is a term used to describe an enlargement of the labia minora, or inner vaginal lips, that protrude beyond the labia majora, or outer vaginal lips. Historically, if the labia minora measured more than 4-5cm when measured horizontally from the midline under minimal tension then it was considered to be hypertrophic. However, nowadays symptoms from enlarged labia minora are considered far more important than measurements. Enlargement of the labia minora can affect one side, unilateral hypertrophy, or both, bilateral hypertrophy.
Who gets labial hypertrophy?
Some women are born with protruding labia minora. In other women, hypertrophy of the labia develops later in life and has been attributed to a multitude of causes. Childbirth can sometimes cause enlargement particularly if there has been vaginal trauma at the time of delivery. Chronic irritation is also a factor and this may be due to dermatitis or urinary incontinence.
What are the symptoms of Labial Hypertrophy?
Symptoms can be functional or psychological. Some women may want to improve the physical appearance of their labia.
Functional problems include discomfort due to labia catching in clothing and during intercourse. It can sometimes limit some forms of exercise, such as cycling and there can also be difficulties with personal hygiene.
The aesthetic and psychological indications for surgery are becoming increasingly common, perhaps because of the increased availability of images of the female genitalia through modern media. Women are now able to compare their own genitalia to idealised versions. Consequently enlarged labia can lead to adverse effects on self-esteem and sexual relationships. However, the most common aesthetic complaint is that of the hypertrophied labia minora being noticeable through tight clothing and swim wear and this in itself can severely restrict social activities.
Surgery is the treatment for labial hypertrophy. The aim is to reduce the size of the labia to produce an aesthetically more acceptable appearance without any obvious or disfiguring scars. There are several techniques available to do this. The best one depends on the degree of labial hypertrophy present. The surgery can be performed under local (awake) or general (asleep) anaesthetic, normally as a day case.
The wounds normally heal within the first 2 weeks but it is advisable to avoid sexual intercourse and physical activity for 6 weeks.
Complications are not common and because of the excellent blood supply healing is normally rapid. Bleeding and infection can occur as can asymmetry, over correction and under correction.
Sometimes revisional surgery may be necessary.
What is vaginoplasty?
Vaginoplasty is the term used for reconstruction of the vaginal vault.
In patients with abnormal vaginal development or vaginal loss following cancer removal this normally refers to total reconstruction of the vaginal cavity and can require extensive surgery.
Cosmetically, vaginoplasty refers to tightening or repair procedures that are used following childbirth when the vaginal muscles are stretched or damaged. The aim is to repair the stretched tissues by decreasing the diameter of the vagina. This can improve vaginal competency.
Am I a candidate for vaginoplasty?
This type of tightening procedure is only recommended in older women who have completed their family.
What does vaginoplasty involve?
In the UK the procedure is normally performed surgically, under a general anaesthetic, by tightening the posterior wall of the vagina.
What is the recovery time?
The area normally heals in 6 weeks but sexual intercourse and the use of tampons are discouraged for 6 weeks.
What are the risks?
You need to be properly assessed by a gynaecologist prior to embarking on this type of surgery to ensure that there are no other causes for your symptoms.
Infection and bleeding can occur following surgery and scars can occasionally be tight and painful.
Contact our team about cosmetic and plastic surgery at Spire Manchester Hospital
For more information on vaginoplasty or labioplasty please call 0161 232 2303 or complete our online enquiry form.