I’ve got a fine relationship with my vagina. To be honest, before this article I had not given it much thought. It’s there, it does what it needs to do, and I carry on with my life. But for some women, how their vulva looks and feels causes them major stress. That’s where labiaplasty comes in. For some people, when they hear about a labiaplasty, they think (logically) “okay, yeah, plastic surgery for your labia.” For others, when they hear it, their first reaction is “WTF.” But whether you’ve heard about a labiaplasty before or not, I’m sure you have some questions and probably some misconceptions that I plan to debunk. But let’s get one thing straight: labiaplasty is NOT a millennial-geared surgery to promote altering your body for purely aesthetic reasons to look like a Victoria’s Secret Model or porn star. It can be done for aesthetic purposes, but there are also legit medical reasons for this.
I Spoke To An Expert
For this taboo and rarely-spoken-about topic, I called in the big guns, Dr. Lara Devgan. She is ranked as the #1 female cosmetic surgeon in New York on Rate MDs, and tbh, that’s good enough for me. But, according to her website, she is also a “board-certified, Yale-educated, Johns Hopkins Medical School-instructed, and Columbia/ New York Presbyterian Hospital-trained plastic & reconstructive surgeon.” Dr. Devgan is everything my Jewish parents wished I’d grown up to be, but here I am, writing about vaginas on the internet. Sorry, mom and dad. Did I mention she’s Kim K’s plastic surgeon?
WTF Is Labiaplasty?
Dr. Devgan explains labiaplasty as “cosmetic rejuvenation of the female genitalia.” Put simply (thanks Google), a labiaplasty is “plastic surgery performed to alter the appearance of the labia, typically the labia minora, or to construct labia.” So at this point in your life, if you don’t know the difference between your labia minora and labia majora, we’ve got an issue. Go back to health class, then come back to this article. Just kidding! I’ll tell you. The labia minora are the inner lips, and the majora are the outer lips.
Why Would Someone Do This?
Dr. Devgan explains that this surgery is performed for functional and/or cosmetic reasons. Many women who opt for this surgery are either unhappy and self-conscious about how their genitals look or they experience friction or discomfort from exercise, clothing, or sex. Furthermore, the excess tissue that may hang below the rest of the vulva can mess with the vagina’s normal flora and cause frequent yeast infections. Dr. Devgan says that this is one of the fastest growing plastic surgery procedures in the US and one of the more common surgeries she performs.
How Does The Surgery Work?
Because every woman is different, it really depends on the individual needs of the patient. Dr. Devgan explains that “the exact maneuvers we do in surgery depends on a woman and her unique anatomic characteristics and concerns.” However, most surgery is performed under local anesthetic (you are awake and your vajayjay is just numbed) and takes about 30 to 45 minutes. For some in-depth diagrams to explain the surgery, check out Dr. Devgan’s website.
The Recovery Time
Labiaplasty tends to be minimally painful—think less than painful than watching Colton confess his love for Cassie and her leave. But don’t worry, the doc still gives her patients pain meds just in case. Dr. Devgan says that most of her patients take 4 to 7 days off work, although she has had women go back to work the next day. She recommends taking the first 3 days to ice the area with pelvic elevation. Dr. Devgan recommends no sex, tampons, or strenuous activities for at least 6 weeks. The scars are v minimal and usually disappear to be almost invisible, to the point where your gyno or SO won’t notice them.
How Will It Impact Your Life
For women who have lived their lives feeling self-conscious of how they look, it can be a life-changing surgery. Dr. Devgan says, “patient satisfaction for this procedure is extremely high.” For Dr. Devgan, it is “one of the most gratifying procedures” and she commonly hears, “wow, I should have done this sooner” from her patients. Patients can wear jeans and won’t be uncomfortable or feel that they constantly need to re-adjust themselves. They can wear bathing suits without feeling embarrassed that someone can see their labia. Dr. Devgan explains that it will not interfere with giving birth vaginally in the future, with orgasms, arousal, or using the restroom. But it can make sex more comfortable and enjoyable.
The Bottom Line
As Dr. Devgan said, a labiaplasty is not a “sexy surgery” nor is it a “porn surgery.” In fact, a small study published in 2016 found that women who had undergone labiaplasty were just as likely to have done so for improved appearance and sexual performance as they were for “practical” reasons, like physical discomfort. (But honestly, who’s to say that wanting to feel more secure about your appearance isn’t practical?) This surgery might seem weird to talk about, but it shouldn’t be. Let’s be real, if men had a similar issue, it would not be such a taboo topic. Dr. Devgan says, “if some meaningful percentage of the male population had an issue where skin on their testicles was impeding on their abilities to conduct their normal lives, it would be a front and center topic that was totally acceptable and totally covered.” The bottom line is, if you’re considering getting labiaplasty, you shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about it with a trusted surgeon. And if you’re perfectly happy with your lady parts and don’t want to change it, that’s great too.
Images: Andre Maliik / Unsplash; laradevganmd / Instagram; Giphy (2)