What is Labiaplasty?

A Labiaplasty, commonly referred to as Labia reduction, is an aesthetic surgery for the female genitalia, which involves reduction of the labia. Wikipedia describes the average length of the labia minor (inner labia) of females between the ages of 18-50 to be 61 mm. However, longer lengths were recorded up to 100 mm. Patients request the surgery because their labia either hangs, or appears to be too long. Some patients complain of discomfort when wearing tight undergarments.

What problems does Labiaplasty address?

My labia shows thru my clothes

-a Maryland patient

Most patients have the labiaplasty to reduce the length of the labia because they either experience discomfort or pain or are simply unsatisfied with the way their labia looks. Some women have always been this way (congenital), whereas others develop the problem after childbirth or as they age. Those with full fatty mons (vaginal lips) can safely undergo liposuction of that area.

Candidates usually have these signs or symptoms

  • Long, or 'hanging' vaginal lips
  • Labial discomfort, pain, or irritation,
    particularly during certain activities or while wearing certain clothes
  • Embarrassment during intimacy

How popular is the surgery?

I have performed over 100 labiaplasty procedures. To help the general public learn more about this procedure I have appeared on WBAL TV in Baltimore, as well as published articles. My article,"Something to Talk About", which discusses who is a candidate for the procedure, appeared in PlasticSurgeryProductsOnline.com, which is a magazine distributed to other Plastic Surgeons.

What are the Pre-Operative requirements?

During your consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon it's important to listen to all of the pre-op instructions your surgeon gives and discuss all of the surgery and outcome concerns you have.

Your procedure should be performed by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in an accredited surgery center. The most highly recognized accreditation agencies are Medicare, AAAASF, and JCAHO. Be sure that your facility is accredited by at least one of these organizations! In many cases, a facility will have accreditation from Medicare, and either AAAASF or JCAHO. Our surgery center is accredited by both Medicare and the AAAASF.

Pre-Operative preparations

  • Quit smoking 2 weeks prior to surgery
  • Stop taking multivitamins, herbals, and aspirin prior to surgery
  • Have an Physical examination (H&P) and CBC (anemia detection) to clear you for surgery
  • NPO after midnight before surgery

How is the Labiaplasty procedure performed?

This procedure should be performed by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon at either an accredited out patient surgery center or a hospital. Although Labiaplasty is an elective cosmetic procedure, my experience with vaginal reconstruction while teaching in the Yale Plastic Surgery Department gives me unique qualifications for performing this procedure. During my Plastic Surgery residency I published a chapter on "Vulvar Reconstruction with SEPA flaps" in Obstetrics & Gynecology, the scientific publication for gynecologists.

There are two basic surgical techniques used in Labiaplasty surgery, the trim method and the wedge method.

Trim Method

trim and wedge labiaplasty methods diagramThe trim method, also sometimes referred to as the strip method, is the most commonly used method for reducing the length of the labia. It basically takes excess labial skin away along the length (edge) of the labia minora. I prefer this method as it is less likely to cause complications and produces the best results for patients looking to remove the darker, longer edges of the labia.

Wedge Method

The wedge method removes a wedge-shaped portion of the unwanted labium to reduce the bulk of the labia minora. I never use this method for labiaplasty as it is unwarranted given patients' goals.

Labiaplasty is an out-patient procedure that typically takes 1 to 2 hours. During the procedure you will be in a light twilight sleep. After the procedure, you will wake up as soon as the IV is removed from your wrist. You should have little or no nausea following the procedure and patients typically go home within one hour after the procedure is finished.

What type of anesthesia is used?

The credentials of your surgeon, anesthesiologist, and the surgery center are all important. I perform this procedure under IV sedation with a Board Certified Anesthesiologist. My Surgical Facility is AAAASF accredited and Medicare Certified. I do not recommend doing the procedure while you are awake.

What is Labiaplasty Post-Op recovery like?

After Labiaplasty surgery there will be some discomfort and swelling. You can expect 80% of the swelling to subside by the end of the first week. The remaining swelling should be gone by 6 weeks.

Post-Operative recovery instructions

  • First week: Off of work
  • First week: Daily epson salt soaks
  • First 3 weeks: No sexual intercourse
  • At 4 weeks: Return to normal activities

In order to make sitting more comfortable, you will be given an inflatable donut cushion. Our office will also provide you with a sitz bath for therapeutic soaking in the immediate post operative period. You will have swelling in the first 3-4 days, and it will gradually disappear over the next couple of weeks. Most patients can resume sexual relations in 3 weeks.

Will everything look and feel normal after my procedure?

Yes. The scars are very fine and hidden within natural skin creases. It is very difficult to spot them even up close. Sensation is often improved since there are no flaps of extra skin in the way.

What are the risks and possible complications?

As with any surgery, there are risks and possible complications associated with Labiaplasty. The most common complications include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Change in sensation
  • Ongoing pain

Finding out if Labiaplasty is right for you

If you are considering labiaplasty, you'll need to set up a consultation with a Board Certified plastic surgeon who is experienced in vaginal rejuvenation surgeries. Be sure to view their patient before and after photo galleries, discuss your specific goals, and ask a lot of questions during your consult to ensure the benefits of Labiaplasty outweigh the risks.

How much does Labiaplasty cost?

Total cost for the Labiaplasty procedure is $3,400 to $3,700. This includes the surgeon's fee, operating room fee and anesthesia fee. Financing is available.

We will discuss possible risks, potential complications, and our methods for dealing with risks and complications associated with Labiaplasty from your initial consult through your recovery.

Before and After Photos

before and after labia reduction surgerySee our gallery of actual patients before and after their labiaplasty procedures.  All of the patients featured in our gallery had their surgeries here in Baltimore.

Please note that all of the patients featured in the gallery have given written consent for their photos. We are very grateful to their generous participation in patient education.

Having Your Labiaplasty in Baltimore, Maryland

Contact UsMany of our surgical patients come from out of town. Baltimore is only 30 miles from BWI airport and we are only 20 minutes from the downtown Amtrak train station. Give us a call at +1-410-494-8100 or Contact Us online. We'll be happy to schedule a time for you to visit our offices or participate in a virtual consultation.

If you live near Baltimore you can go home right after the surgery. Out of town patients normally stay overnight in one of our recommended hotels and can drive home the next day. If you are traveling home by airplane, we recommend a two night stay so that you can more comfortably move around on the trip home.

doctor's signatureUpdated July 1, 2015
Ricardo L Rodriguez
Board Certified Plastic Surgery