Last updated on October 30, 2023
Labiaplasty, the reduction of the inner labia, has been a niche surgical procedure for years. But in recent times, it’s become more mainstream — and less taboo — as more women openly discuss their own experiences with overly large or unusually shaped labia.
In fact, marketing statistics show that labiaplasty is one of the fastest-growing cosmetic surgical procedures today. In response to this trend, we have seen a proliferation of “Mummy Makeovers” that is designed to tighten loose skin and reduce excess fat following childbirth.
The treatment typically includes procedures such as liposuction, a mini-abdominoplasty, and an uplifting of the inner thighs (often referred to as “inner-thigh lifts”). This rise in popularity seems like good news for body image and self-esteem.
After all, many women who undergo any type of plastic surgery do so because they feel more confident with smaller or slimmer features. However, there is always the potential for negative consequences when procedures become too popular.
What Is Labiaplasty?
Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure designed to reduce the size of the labia minora, the inner lips of the vulva. It can also be used to reshape the labia if they are unusually large. The procedure is often done as part of a “Mummy Makeover” after childbirth.
The outer labia (labia majora) are usually left untouched. Labiaplasty can be performed via several different methods, but the most common is a type of “surgical scissors” that cut and reshapes the labia. Other methods include laser therapy to destroy and shrink the tissue, or simply piercing the labia and manually pulling it out.
The type of method used depends on the experience of the surgeon and the desired results of the patient. Labiaplasty is generally performed under local anaesthesia in a daycare centre or hospital.
It is a relatively quick procedure, taking less than an hour. Patients can go home the same day and can expect some swelling and bruising in the days following the operation.
The Demographics of Labiaplasty
Labiaplasty is one of the fastest-growing cosmetic surgical procedures. In fact, it is now one of the most popular genital cosmetic surgeries. The trend has grown so much that there is even a National Labia Awareness day in the UK to encourage women to embrace their natural appearance and not feel self-conscious about their private parts.
However, there are concerns about labiaplasty becoming overexposed. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) reports that the number of labiaplasty procedures performed in the US almost doubled between 2015 and 2016 – from 5,200 to 9,200.
In 2017, almost 10,000 procedures were performed again – an average increase of 40 percent each year since 2014.
Labia Shaving Vs. Labia Tucking
Although “shaving” and “tucking” are often used interchangeably when discussing labiaplasty, the two procedures are actually quite different. “Shaving” is actually the removal of labia tissue generally by “trim technique”, while “tucking” involves repositioning the labia to create a more youthful appearance which can be the “wedge technique”.
Labiaplasty is a procedure designed to reduce the size of the labia. It is often done as part of a “Mummy Makeover” and should be done by a certified plastic surgeon. Labia tucking is done using stitches that pull the labia minora in and up to create a neater, smaller appearance.
Why Are So Many Women Choosing to Have Labiaplasty?
There are a variety of reasons that women may choose to have labiaplasty. Some women are simply born with large labia, while others notice that their labia become larger during pregnancy.
Other times, excessive friction during intercourse can cause the labia to swell and become irritated. In some cases, women are experiencing pain due to a condition known as “labial hyperplasia,” which is when the labia become swollen and enlarged due to an autoimmune reaction in the tissues.
Some women also choose to have labiaplasty because they feel self-conscious about their labia during intimacy with a partner. However, these issues can be resolved through therapy rather than surgery.
Negative Consequences of Labiaplasty Becoming Too Popular
As is often the case with procedures that become too popular, there is a risk of it becoming “overdone.” Overly conservative surgeons may be more inclined to perform the procedure.
Other medical professionals may feel pressured to recommend labiaplasty when it’s not truly necessary. As a result, patients may end up having the procedure done for the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, overdoing a cosmetic procedure can lead to negative consequences for both the patient and the surgeon.
Patients might be left with overly tight labia that are unable to be repositioned. They may also experience a loss of sexual sensitivity that could negatively impact their sex life.
How Can We Prevent This From Happening?
When deciding whether or not to have labiaplasty, it is best to be absolutely certain that you need the procedure. While it can provide significant benefits, the procedure is also permanent. Therefore, it should be a last resort for dealing with issues related to labia size. Be mindful of the language used by cosmetic surgeons when discussing the procedure.
Touchy-feely terms like “tweaking” and “tidying up” are subjective and open to interpretation. This means that you may look down at your labia after the procedure and wonder, “Is this what they meant?”.
When seeking out a cosmetic surgeon, make sure that they are on the GMC specialist register. This ensures that they have undergone extensive training in the field and have proven themselves to be experts in their respective fields.
As with any growing trend, it’s important to keep an eye on labiaplasty. If it becomes too popular, it may end up causing more problems than it solves. However, for many women, there is a real and legitimate benefit to having this procedure done. It can help improve self-esteem by eliminating the anxieties associated with a lifetime of living with large labia.
It can also help alleviate feelings of embarrassment during sexual intimacy by reducing the size of the labia. However, it is important for women to know that this procedure is not for everyone. It is best for those who have decided that they have had enough of living with large labia.