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Labiaplasty, The Cosmetic Procedure Not Being Whispered Anymore

While many Labiaplasty procedures are still performed for health and comfort reasons, there is a growing trend amongst women to undergo the procedure for purely aesthetic reasons, often citing the desire of increased self confidence with their own body image as the main catalyst to undergo labiaplasty cosmetic surgery

To write this article the Cosmetic Tourist collaborated with Montreal based plastic surgeon and labiaplasty specialist, Dr. Genevieve F. Caron, MD who was generous enough to take time out of her busy schedule to co-author this article and share her expertise, and views on cosmetic labia surgery

Labia Surgery; What Exactly Is Labiaplasty?

The term labiaplasty comes from the procedure itself, which is performed to reduce the size of the labia minora, or inner lips. For most patients, the goal is to get the labia minora “tucked in” inside the labia majora which not only minimizes the hanging appearance, but also the pulling, and discomfort. Labia surgery is one of the most commonly performed intimate rejuvenation procedures, especially for aesthetical cosmetic surgery.

The labia minora are a pair of thin folds that, whilst not fully cutaneous (skin related), are part of the external female genitalia. Labia minora often show a considerable amount of variation in length, width, shape, and coloration between individuals. Some women develop longer labia during puberty, while others experience stretching with childbirth or age.

Dr. F. Caron points out that no matter their appearance or size, labias are a normal anatomic structure and protect the vaginal opening; “Consequently, during the labiaplasty surgery we don’t want to remove them entirely but we can certainly adjust their size and shape to offer the patient a more cosmetic look..”

Surgical Techniques Of Labia Minora Surgery

Labia minora surgery can be performed using various surgical techniques; Trim or edge excision, wedge excision, extended wedge excision and central de-epithelialization. All of these procedures reshape and resize the labia to reach the desired result, which would have been discussed in detail with your plastic surgeon beforehand.

Dr. F. Caron’s expertise allows her to tailor the procedure to the exact needs, and goals of each of her patients. Most commonly, she uses a extended wedge technique (popularized by American surgeon Gary Alter, MD) to remove the excess tissue, while still preserving the normal edge of the labia. Using this technique results in a very natural look, whilst also giving her the option to reduce the clitoral hood with an additional procedure that can be performed at the same time.

Main Reasons For Undergoing Labiaplasty Cosmetic Surgery

With such an intimate cosmetic procedure there are many personal reasons why women opt to undergo labia surgery. Some are bothered by the feel, or appearance of their labia minora hanging beyond the labia majora. Other women simply don’t like the appearance of an extended labia, particularly with today’s trend of waxing and hair removal that draws extra attention to the genital area. Dr. F. Caron also mentions the growing roles that social media and advertising can play (Read more about social media’s relationship with cosmetic surgery here).

More functional reasons for labiaplasty are the rubbing and itching that can be caused by the twisting, tugging of the labia through various physical activities. Larger labias can be uncomfortable in bathing suits, yoga pants, bike seats or horseback riding. Intercourse can also be uncomfortable if the labia are long or loose.

According to Dr. F. Caron, the majority of women’s main reasons for labiaplasty are based on the following goals; To correct the labia minora hanging lower than the majora, to have a more regular color and texture, and to have less folds and redundancy around the clitoral hood.

How A Plastic Surgeon Relates To Pre-Op Labia Surgery Patients

Because most cosmetic based labia surgeries are being performed to improve the overall look of the labia (and entire genital area) it is important to reassure each patient that It is not about what is normal or not, explains Dr. F. Caron; “When women ask their gynecologists about the anatomy of their labia, they are often told that it’s normal and they shouldn’t worry.”

She continues “As plastic surgeons, we need to reassure them, it is a normal variation in most cases, but there are treatments that can help them feel more comfortable with their body.”

Whilst a pre-op patient might find this situation confusing, Dr. F. Caron says the role of a plastic surgeon is “to be confident about operating on normal anatomy and explaining to the patient what they can expect! As plastic surgeons, we are already doing surgery on normal anatomy for many other procedures as breast augmentation, breast lift, rhinoplasty and more.”

The Aesthetic Happiness Factor Of Labiaplasty

For many who elect to undergo labia surgery, it is because of a general unhappiness with their appearances in that anatomic region. The surgery performed to alleviate these personal frustrations usually ends up with the labia minora becoming the cosmetic focus of the labiaplasty procedure.

Whilst evaluations of the entire female genitalia will aid a plastic surgeon’s assessment of what aesthetic alterations can help each individual, it is commonly reported by doctors and their clinics that women who undergo labiaplasty report a very high satisfaction rate with their cosmetic surgery results, with websites such as Realself.com having 95% satisfaction results.

Dr. F. Caron adds that many of her patients also comment after the surgery that the only regret they have it is not to have done it sooner.

Specific Risks Related To Labiaplasty

Whilst the risks associated with labia surgery procedures include those of other invasive cosmetic surgical procedures, such as bleeding, hematoma, infections, and unsightly scarring, it is widely viewed that labiaplasty has lower complication rates than many other procedures.

The most frequent question patients ask about the post op results is if they will lose sensation, sexual desire, or if sexual enjoyment will decrease or increase.  Dr. F. Caron tries to reassure her patients “by saying that anatomic study demonstrated that the clitoral nerves run very deep and are not in the surgical field”.

She also like to reassure with medical facts, such as those that enjoy general agreement amongst eminent plastic surgeons from the US and beyond;

● “Edge trim/ lateral clitoral hood resection does not result in diminished sensation” (Placik, PRS 2016)
● “Clitoral nerve injury is not a side effect of a properly performed clitoral hood contouring procedure with or without labiaplasty.” (Dr Marco Pelosi)

However, as with any cosmetic surgery, it is always vitally important to talk through all potential risks with your plastic surgeon/provider, so you fully understand all possible results before you decide to undergo the procedure.

A Plastic Surgeon’s Notes On The Labiaplasty Recovery Period

Dr. F. Caron says that “Recovery after labiaplasty is usually quite simple.” Whilst the first 2-3 days are more painful, the pain then begins to recede. Everyone should avoid any exercise for 2 weeks, and sexual activity (and tampon insertion) for 4 to 6 weeks after their surgery. The doctor says that most women are back at work after 4- 5 days respite. Most often the incisions heal quickly and will leave scars that are not very apparent in the fold.
Final Thoughts From Labiaplasty Specialist, Dr. Genevieve F. Caron.
Most women are very tolerant of this procedure under topical anesthesia and local infiltration. They usually listen to music, watch Netflix TV or movies for entertainment during the intervention which lasts approximately 60 to 90 minutes.

It is important for patients considering labiaplasty to consult a board certified plastic surgeon specialized in labia surgery. Your surgeon should put you at ease and listen to your concerns as well as inform you of options for getting the desired result, as well as possible complications. It is important for patients to understand the technique used, its advantages and disadvantages, and to be comfortable asking questions to their surgeon.

You may hear the controversy around this procedure. Some groups are against it because according to them it is not necessary and purely aesthetic. Dr. F. Caron explains to her patients that the decision is their personal choice in the same sense that a patient with a lump on her nose can plans a rhinoplasty or a patient with small breasts desires breast implants. All these conditions are normal variants of the anatomy and do not require intervention, but patients should feel free and not be ashamed to choose whether they wish to live while being inconvenienced or insecure or to act.

Meet Dr. Genevieve F.Caron

Dr. F.Caron is a Canadian board-certified plastic surgeon certified by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. She completed her medical studies in Quebec City in 2010. She then completed her training in plastic surgery at the University of Montreal and did a fellowship in Edmonton, Alberta to subspecialize in complex reconstruction and scar treatment. She started her practice in Montreal and is an Associate professor for the University of Montreal’s Plastic surgery division, where she shares her expertise with the residents. Dr F.Caron went back to Alberta for a second fellowship in cosmetic surgery with the world renown Dr Hall-Findlay in 2017.

She is a talented and skilled surgeon offering cosmetic surgery for the breasts, genital, body and skin. Dr. F. Caron has trained and is experienced in breast surgery, mommy makeover, liposuction and intimate surgery. She is a caring, compassionate physician who strives to create natural results for her patients.

Dr F.Caron is fluent in both English and French and has given numerous national and international presentations on cosmetic surgery.

As a female plastic surgeon, Dr F.Caron has a mission to help other women achieve their functional and aesthetic goals, whilst ensuring their safety, health and well being. She provides all of her patients a very personalized and open approach.

Dr F.Caron is an active member of many associations and she keeps her credentials current and her knowledge up-to-date by actively participating in international meetings.