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Labiaplasty - By Dr. Greg Owens Cincinnati and Liberty Township, Ohio

Labiaplasty is a surgery to create a more appealing and functional labia. Primarily it is done on the small inner lips around the vagina (labia minora) but can be done on the large outer lips (labia majora), and the clitoral hood. Over the past decade these surgeries have become more requested as women are taking charge of this aspect of their health and appearance.

Labia minora can be an issue if they are too large and protrude well beyond the majora. Large labia minora stick to clothing, cause discomfort with activities such as running, biking or horseback riding. They can make sitting uncomfortable or even certain clothing unpleasant to wear. They can cause problems with intimacy by getting caught and pulled with intercourse. Ladies can feel self-conscious and that they are not attractive due to the asymmetric or elongated labia minora. Enlarged labia minora can deflect the urine steam causing spraying and making hygiene more difficult. Enlarged or sagging Labia majora and the clitoral hood can also become issues. Sagging of tissues can make hygiene more difficult or cover the clitoris leading to a lack of stimulation.

The question arises as to why labia are the way they are. Labia minora can be asymmetric and or elongated as a part of natural development or become distorted with childbirth and aging. Weight loss, genetics or aging can lead to sagging of labia majora and clitoral hood as well.

Surgery to correct labia minora asymmetry or create a more functional and appealing labia can be done either by trimming redundant tissue or removing a wedge of tissue and tucking the remainder. The method used depends of the anatomy and the desired outcome. Labia majora and clitoral hood surgery entails incisions along the natural creases, removing the excess skin, and closing the incision so that it is hidden. Care must be taken in order to avoid exposing the clitoris too much which can result in unwanted and unpleasant stimulation.

Surgery can be accomplished in one to two hours depending on what is needed. These are done on an outpatient basis. Work and activities may be resumed in as little as two weeks, but varies with the extent of the surgery. Intercourse should usually be postponed until six seeks after surgery.
With any of these surgeries, realistic expectations are essential to the process. A woman considering these surgeries must understand that while the surgery can certainly improve aspects of her life, it will not be a substitute for a wholesome sense of self. Additionally, women should consider postponing the surgery until childbearing is over.