Vaginal Labiaplasty On the Rise
Vaginal labiaplasty, sometimes referred to as vaginal rejuvenation, is one of the fastest growing procedures on the plastic surgery circuit. What is the latest on labiaplasty and why are more and more women choosing it?
A labiaplasty is a broad term for a variety of techniques used to remove excess labial skin (labia minora) for aesthetic and/or functional reasons. According to a 2008 report that included input from 131 women, 37 percent sought the procedure for aesthetic reasons only, 32 wanted it for functional issues (e.g., pain and discomfort), and 31 percent sought the surgery for both reasons.
More specifically, women seek a labiaplasty because
- Their labia become irritated because of athletic activities, tight clothing, or other irritants
- They do not like how their labia look (i.e., too long or large)
- They need repair due to damage that occurred after pregnancy and childbirth
In a 2014 press release, Michael Edwards, MD, then president-elect of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, noted that “I believe more women are also pursuing procedures like labiaplasty to correct labia-related issues that are interfering with their ability to perform sexually, to perform daily tasks such as exercise, or are merely causing discomfort.”
How popular is vaginal labiaplasty? The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery collected data showing that 5,070 procedures were performed in 2012, which was a 44 percent increase from 2011. Labiaplasty has been very common in Europe for decades, and it has become more popular in the United States over the past 5 to 10 years.
Recent study of vaginal labiaplasty
A team at Albany Medical Center recently published a report on the outcomes of vaginal labiaplasty. The review included data from 19 articles and nearly 1,950 women.
The reviewers found that the women had a satisfaction rate of 94 to 100 percent and that complication rates were low. The most common complications included discomfort, visible scarring, superficial infections, hematoma formation, flap necrosis, and wound rupture.
The review covered seven different surgical techniques used in labiaplasty, including composite reduction, deepithelialization, direct excision, laser labiaplasty, wedge resection, W-shaped resection, and Z-plasty. Women who seek labiaplasty should discuss the pros and cons of these approaches with their doctor to determine which is best for their needs and situation.
The reviewers pointed out that while vaginal labiaplasty is rising in popularity, there is an absence of clinical studies and literature on the procedure. They recommend that “future studies should establish or propose uniform practices to optimize patient management” and that “clinical studies should be performed to validate current practices.”
American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. . ASAPS 2013 Cosmetic Surgery National Data Bank statistics
American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery press release 2014
Motakef SM et al. Vaginal labiaplasty: current practices and a simplified classification system for labial protrusion. Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery 2015 Mar; 135(3): 774-88