Labiaplasty: What it is designed to do

I get many requests for Labiaplasty, and it always surprises me how many different types of women contact me in my Baltimore practice. Whether it is a young single woman who has not had children, or an older person who is finished with childbearing, it can be difficult to find a surgeon who is experienced with the procedure.

Labiaplasty changes length of labia

A photo of a patient's labia, showing how they are before and after a labiaplasty.

One question I always clarify is what the labiaplasty procedure is designed to do. Does it enhance sexual experience, improve the appearance of the vagina, or both? Since the procedure is a type of ‘vaginal rejuvenation’ there is a lot of confusion from the media as to why exactly the goal of the procedure is. Furthermore, many gynecologist equate vaginal rejuvenation mainly with sexual enhancement. However, for most plastic surgeons, the purpose of the Labiaplasty is to improve appearance only. The Labiaplasty procedure addresses the patient complaint that the labia is too long or that it bothers them with tight clothing.

Let’s review the media sound bites about the procedure from both gynecologists and plastic surgeons.

Is the procedure performed for function or aesthetics?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has come out with an official statement against “vaginal rejuvenation” procedures. Therefore, many gynecologists, who are the first health professional a woman would typically ask, are either not familiar with the procedure, or will not endorse it. Shortly after the ACOG issued their statement, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) was asked to issue an opinion, and despite some internal debate the decision was made to support the ACOG.

Because of my experience with the Labiaplasty procedure, I was asked for an opinion by the media. My opinion was that “Vaginal rejuvenation surgery” can be divided into Reconstructive Surgery, whose purpose is to restore some functional problem, and cosmetic surgery, whose purpose is to improve how something looks.

The problem with reconstructive vaginal procedures such as tightening or enhancing the “G spot” is that sexual function is is as dependent on the brain as on the sexual organ. I don’t perform these procedures because I don’t think I am helping the patient. On his I agree with the ACOG position.

On the other hand, a cosmetic procedure such as Labiaplasty does what it’s supposed to do, which is just to change the length of the labia. On this, I disagree with the ACOG position. My patients love the result because they get what they want. Some women’s labia are larger than others and seem to “hang” beyond the vagina. The tissues are very thin and wrinkly. In addition, the labia are usually darker than the surrounding tissues, so they are very noticeable. I think the problem is noticed nowadays more because a lot of women shave the vaginal mound, so the labia are more noticeable. The procedure is extremely effective in eliminating the extra tissue and giving a “clean” look.

Who is qualified to perform Labiaplasty?

When looking for a surgeon to perform this procedure, make sure he is a board certified plastic surgeon. The question to ask is “Are you a member of the American Board of Plastic Surgery?” A lot of surgeons will say they are “board certified”, but in may be in something other than plastic surgery. You should also make sure he is experienced with the procedure and performs it often. I enjoy doing this procedure because the results look really good, patients are very happy, and I have never had a major problem. I just wish more people knew this procedure can help them.

By Dr. Ricardo L. Rodriguez MD
Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
Cosmeticsurg Baltimore, Maryland
Ricardo L Rodriguez on American Society of Plastic Surgeons

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19 thoughts on “Labiaplasty: What it is designed to do”

  • kerry says:

    i am 17 i do not have the money for surgery but i have always been embaressd about my large labia i , it gets in the way dure in intercourse i carnt were certain underwear it rubs i wondered if i could get this done on the nhs but i have doubts if i had the opp that i wudnt wake up or it would go wrong please helpppppp
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Kerry: I have a lot of respect for the NHS. I worked at the Royal Marsden during my training. Don't worry about this procedure, it is very minor and can be done under very light sedation. Just make sure whomever is doing it has experience with the procedure, and ask them details on how they do it. Good Luck!
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Dorkas: We do this procedure quite a bit. Contact Kelly at kelly@cosmeticsurg.net, she'd be more than happy to help you.
  • Shannon says:

    Im also 17. Uhm, ive been embarassed by this problem since i was about 12 yrs old. It first started bothering me bEcause i didnt like the bulging appearance when i wore bathing suits. It hasnt helped that ex boyfriends have made comments to the affect of i have unusually long "lips." also, i cannot wear many kinds of underwear due to pain it causes. Do you have any idea of surgeons and/or prices/financing in the charlotte metro area because this is a procedure i would be interested in...
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Shannon: I have no idea about who does it in Charlotte. We get plenty of patients from out of town and we'd love to help you if you decided to come to Baltimore. By the way, anybody who truly cares for you would not care about these issues, or comment on them. It may cause pain with certain types of clothing as you say, and cause a bulge, but it luckily it can be corrected. It is the type of procedure that you would need approval from your parents since you are 17. You can contact Kelly at kelly@cosmeticsurg.net for more info on pricing. Hope this helps!
  • Leslee says:

    Dr. Rodriguez performed this surgery on me and I couldn't be happier! I waited years and years to get this done because I didn't know this surgery existed. Dr. Rodriguez and his staff were wonderful and I would highly recommend this practice. I assure you you will not be disappointed. Thanks Dr. Rodriguez!! : ))
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Keti: For info on pricing, contact Kelly at kelly@cosmeticsurg.net She can give you a lot of information. We're looking forward to hearing from you!
  • Ashley says:

    Hi, my names ashley im under age but i have this problem and i was wondering whats the price range for this? :)
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Ashley: I know it's probably a sensitive problem to talk with your parents, but if you are underage we will need an adult to provide consent for you. Contact Kelly at kelly@cosmeticsurg.net and she'd be happy to help you with info on price.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Ashleyna: We can definitely help you. I'll get Kelly at kelly@cosmeticsurg.net to contact you with info on cost, details about surgery, and any questions you feel like asking. And thanks for the smiley, they are always welcome :)
  • Stephanie says:

    Hello, I have the same problem except it actually hurts me during sex and certain cloths, Would love to get some information about cost and stuff? Thanks.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Stephanie: Thanks for contacting us. I will put you in contact with Kelly at kelly@cosmeticsurg.net
  • Tiabird says:

    Hi, I was in the hospital and had kidney failure, and because of that my body started to hold all this water and I ballooned up to like 3x my original weight. When I first stood up I didn't realize till I went to use the washroom but my vaginal area had also retained A LOT of water it looked so scary,because of all the water my labia majora and labia minora were now almost down to my knees, it was like they were big water balloons. Now my labia's are both looser than they were and longer, It's just so embarrassing and with all the leakage, I seriously thought it was a cleanliness thing. well I'm somewhat happy to learn that all the excess fluid is not entirely my fault just wondering is it legal to preform this surgery in Canada? Because I just keep on hearing of it in the U.S??
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Tiabird: I really do not know if this is being done in Canada. You may want to ask your gynecologist, they may know somebody who does it. We have many patients from overseas and Canada, so you have that possibility to consider.
  • Bertha says:

    I was wondering too if I can get helped with coverage for this. I have very loose lips and my cloritos hood is very big. I have vaginal bleeding in history and got sent out to stop it, now I've been discharging for 4 months now and its getting to bother me with all those loose skin its getting to be. I'm 23 and have 1 child and was born a 3 pound.
    • Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez says:

      Bertha: Before doing anything else you should see a gynecologist again. Discharge for 4 months is not normal. I do not think labiaplasty is covered by any type of insurance.