Cosmetic procedures of various types have become extremely popular in the U.S. People undergo plastic surgery procedures to correct minor imperfections, such as protruding ears, or major concerns such as tummy-tucks, liposuction, and breast augmentation/reduction. Two fairly new procedures that have become increasingly popular are vaginal rejuvenation and labiaplasty.
What Is Vaginal Rejuvenation and Labiaplasty?
Vaginal rejuvenation, while often a catch-all term for the various cosmetic surgeries involving female genitalia, is actually a surgical procedure that involves the tightening of the vaginal canal, which can become lax and stretched due to childbirth and aging. The surgery restores lost sexual pleasure, mitigates urinary incontinence, and increases muscle control.
Another popular procedure, known as labiaplasty or labioplasty involves the external folds of the female genitalia. The labia majora, or outer lips, and the labia minora, or minor lips, of a woman’s external genitalia may develop stretching and become bulky as a result of childbirth, weight gain, or aging. The procedure reduces the size and aesthetic appearance of these folds, enhancing the look of the vulva and possibly increasing sexual pleasure.
Who Needs These Procedures?
Women suffering from a stretched vaginal canal or vaginal prolapse caused by childbirth or the normal aging process may opt for vaginal rejuvenation. For these women, the stretched vaginal canal may greatly reduce sexual pleasure for her and her partner. If you feel reduction in your sexual pleasure due to a lax vaginal canal, ask your OB/GYN about the options available to you. In many cases, Kegel exercises, while helpful, cannot correct the loss of elasticity and muscle control that occurs due to childbirth or aging. The surgeon can perform the surgery in conjunction with a labiaplasty procedure. Women with vaginal prolapse may also have urinary incontinence, which the surgeon can correct at the same time.
As a cosmetic procedure, most women do not actually need labiaplastic surgery for health reasons; although, for some the bulky labia can cause irritation, chafing, embarrassment, painful intercourse, and promote yeast infections, it is purely an elective procedure. If your bulky labia cause embarrassment when wearing a swimsuit or other tight clothing, or if they cause irritation or other undesirable issues, talk frankly to your gynecologist about the procedure and your concerns. He or she can help you decide if the procedure is right for you.
Who Performs Vaginal and Labial Surgery?
Many OB/GYNs have taken specialized training courses in the procedures and have earned certification in labiaplasty and vaginal rejuvenation techniques. Others choose to refer their patients to plastic surgeons for the surgery. Ask your local OB/GYN to see before and after photos, if he does perform the surgery, and about what you can expect to experience post-surgery.
What to Expect With Labiaplasty
Surgeons usually perform labiaplasty by a procedure called direct excision and reduction. With this method, the physician cuts a lengthy strip of the labia minora from the inner labial fold, leaving a long incision along the edge of the structure. Less commonly, the physician removes a V-shaped portion of the labia minora to eliminate the bulkiness, thus avoiding an incision along the outside edge. Labia majora reduction requires liposuction and liposculpting by the surgeon to reshape the outer lips and remove excess bulkiness.
Doctors usually give patients only local anesthesia and a sedative for relaxation as the procedure often takes only about 30 minutes. While patients may resume mild activities within one week after the surgery, they should avoid running, jogging, biking or horseback riding, lifting heavy objects, and sexual intercourse for at least four to six weeks post-surgery.
What to Expect With Vaginal Rejuvenation
Vaginal rejuvenation involves the internal tightening of the vaginal canal. If the patient has vaginal or bladder prolapse or other issues with the internal genitalia, the procedure may require a hospital stay of one to two days and a longer recovery time than the much simpler labiaplasty procedure. Physicians may use a sling or other medical device to correct bladder prolapse and the tightening portion of the surgery requires internal stitches up the length of the vaginal canal. The surgery is performed under general anesthesia and patients must refrain from physical exertion, including sexual intercourse, for six to eight weeks.
Your OB/GYN – Your Partner in Female Genital Health
If you have any concerns about vaginal or labial size, painful intercourse, reduced pleasure, or urinary incontinence, make a list of these and discuss them freely with your physician. Think of your OB/GYN as your partner in health. He or she can discuss these and other concerns objectively with you and offer options that fit your lifestyle and health status.