Most women have a normal-sized labia minora, which is the inner lips of skin covering the vaginal opening. The labia minora is not visible when the woman stands with her legs together because it is tucked inside of the labia majora, or the outer set of lips.
However, some women have larger-than-normal labia minora, or asymmetrical labia minora in which one portion is larger than normal. The large labia minora protrudes from within the labia majora, and in some cases it can be seen when the woman wears a bathing suit or form-fitting clothing. In addition to these problems, large labia can be chafed by tight clothing, cause painful sexual intercourse, or cause embarrassment during intimate moments.
Labia Reduction Surgery
Labia reduction surgery is a procedure that trims the labia down to a normal size. This procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis, and in many cases, a local anesthetic is sufficient to numb the area for surgery. The procedure typically lasts less than one hour, and the patient is allowed to return home after a brief recovery period.
Methods for Labia Reduction
Physicians use different methods for labia reduction, depending on the size and thickness of the labia and the physician's preferred method for surgery. One method is the edge resection technique in which the surgeon trims the excess skin at the edges and sutures the incision shut. Another method used in labiaplasty is the central wedge resection technique. This method removes a wedge from the tissue, which may create a more natural appearance after the surgery for some women. Finally, some physicians use the de-epithelialization technique, which cuts the epithelium and reduces the amount of excess vertical tissue.
No matter which technique the physician chooses, the recovery time for a labia reduction surgery is relatively quick compared to many other gynecological procedures. Women with jobs that are not physically demanding can typically return to work within three to four days, and most women can have sexual intercourse again within four weeks.
Like any surgery, labia reduction surgery does present some risks. Although rare, the largest risk of the procedure is infection. In rare instances, some women develop scars at the incision site, or experience damage to the nerves in the labia.
Most women experience less pain and chafing after the labia reduction surgery. In addition, because the surgery reduces the size of the labia, it should no longer be visible when the patient stands with her legs together or wears form-fitting clothing. Finally, many women report an increase in confidence during intimate moments and an increase in sexual pleasure because the labia no longer become chafed during sexual intercourse.