Most patients that come to see me for Labiaplasty have already decided they want the surgery before the appointment. Sometimes it’s a patient that hasn’t even reached the age of 18 accompanied by her parents. Sometimes it’s a patient that is well into her 40’s, post babies, who is embarking on a “mommy- make-over” and wants the procedure as part of the overall package. Sometimes it’s just a patient who, everything else aside, is just unhappy with the look and feel of her lady parts and has decided it’s time to do something about it. The one thing all three of these patients have in common is that they look at this procedure as being no different than any other elective procedure and it was their personal choice.
I have had some mixed feelings from current patients about me performing labiaplasties. I have been accused of genital mutilation, of trying to create the perfect “designer vagina” and that I am adding to this “have to be perfect” notion that females are plagued with constantly. This could not be further from the truth. Vaginal Rejuvenation or Reconstruction for functional reasons is indeed a necessary procedure for some women. Conditions such as genital prolapse and cases of urinary incontinence often require surgical measures to restore vaginal health.
Labiaplasty for aesthetic reasons is a legitimate GYN procedure for women. These patients, although they are coming from an aesthetic place, often have symptoms that are interfering with their sexual health. When the labia minora are severely elongated and exposed there can be discomfort during sex and the same discomfort when wearing yoga pants and skinny jeans. The trend in society of women being more exposed through waxing, laser hair removal and shaving has brought labiaplasty surgery more into the mainstream of cosmetic procedures. In fact it is the fastest-growing requested procedure. For most patients its not a quest for perfection, it’s about function and self-confidence. There are huge variations in anatomy in all areas of the body that are described as normal and they are normal but for those patients that were born with their labia out of proportion, coming of age in today’s world leaves them feeling exposed with low self-esteem and low self-confidence entering sexual relationships. They are not having symptoms yet are extremely embarrassed in the locker room. And minors can be brutal.
I discuss with my patients risks, benefits and alternatives. I have had tremendous success with MonaLisa Touch and ThermiVa for the patient with minor aesthetic needs combined with vaginal dryness and urinary incontinence. These are noninvasive, painless and safe procedures but for some this just isn’t enough and they need to go a step further with Vaginoplasty or Labiaplasty. It has been my experience that my patients who start with the nonsurgical options have better results in healing after surgery because of the increase in blood supply to the area. I support and educate women that come to me for these procedures. It’s my specialty as a GYN surgeon. Making my patients happy and improving their vaginal and sexual health is a win-win.
Duncan Turner, MD