I was mortified that I looked so ugly in that personal area; it got worse as I got older. I was uncomfortable in underwear, I was uncomfortable sitting, I was uncomfortable exercising, I couldn’t wear jeans or some types of trousers because it not only hurt but I was afraid that people could see a bulge, and stupidly I was too embarrassed to go for smear tests.  I also felt unhygienic after using the bathroom - overall I felt ugly and disgusting.

Then, I had to have a series of gynaecological tests that led to an operation; this meant quite a few internal examinations. I mentioned the size of my labia to one of the consultants and he didn’t bulk or snigger, he took me seriously. This was the beginning of the development of the courage that it took to seriously explore the possibility of an operation. I had been single for the previous decade partly due to it and also plastic surgery seemed to be becoming more acceptable and accessible.

I did my research
It was quite a feat to find the right surgeon– most plastic surgeons that I researched (and there were quite a few) didn’t list 'genitals' at all and none that I found named it as their specialism. So I looked for consultants who had studied other woman’s procedures, such as breast augmentation, as I thought that they may have a specific empathy for females.  I found Spire online and choose Mr. Durrant after contacting some consultants' medical secretaries.

I met with Mr. Durrant for an initial consultation. His secretary Ann had already explained what I wanted and so when he said "You're here to discuss a labia reduction…?"  I was so relieved. I nearly didn't keep the appointment as I was dreading having to say it.

Mr Durrant examined me and then we sat at his desk. He explained the operation, he sketched it out on a pad so it was really clear. He told me the risks and that, like any operation, there would be scars.  I then went home to decide if I wanted to go through with it. Later that day I contacted his secretary and fixed a date!

Everyone was thorough, professional and kind
The next time I saw Mr Durrant was on the hospital ward on the morning of the surgery.  The nurses had taken care of me well and he came to see me pre-op. I also had a visit from the anaesthetist.

Everyone was thorough, professional and kind. I was booked in for one night.  I walked to the operating room with the nurse and the friendliness of the theatre staff helped me relax.  I was given a general anaesthetic, so peacefully slept through the operation.

I woke up in the recovery area and Mr Durrant came to see me to tell me that all had gone well.  I was then wheeled back to my room.  The nurses kept me comfortable with painkillers, water and I had some lunch. I felt sore but fine.

I had a visit from Mr Durrant the next morning and he checked that all was okay with the wound. He was pleased and said that I could go home. He told me how to take care of myself i.e. no running, vigorous exercise, how to keep the area clean and when to massage the scars etc.

Before I left the ward nurse made me an appointment to see the outpatient nurse for a wound check a week later.  All went well at my outpatient appointment and I had an appointment with Mr Durrant six weeks after that, where he signed me off.

Feeling more confident
The surgery has helped me feel more confident as a woman – I feel less ugly. I can now get in the car and sit down without having to adjust myself and I feel cleaner. Overall, I feel more feminine and less self-conscious. My labia are tidier and more in line with the 'usual'.  I realise that there is no normal and that everyone is different, but it’s good to feel in the 'usual' range.

Sarah's advice…
If you are uncomfortable, feel ugly or dirty because you have long or large or flappy labia, then have the surgery, it  gets rid of these feelings quickly and easily.  People sometimes have very high expectations and this can lead to disappointment. With this procedure you will end up with the same vagina, but smaller labia – no more and no less. If this is what you want and you have a realistic picture of your vagina then you won’t be disappointed.

*This is a genuine patient story; the patient’s name has been changed for privacy.

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