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15th May 2015

Labiaplasty: Would you put your not-so-private-anymore bits under the knife?

Aisling Loy

Luscious lips are not just a concern for Kylie Jenner. Many women secretly worry about their lady bits especially when pregnancy and birth make everything look altogether different down below.

The labia consists of two “lips” the inner, smaller, labia minora and the outer, larger, labia majora. Like all parts of the body, these can come in many different sizes, shapes, textures and colours. With the prevalence of pornography, the expectations of many women and men as to how labia should look is sometimes quite unrealistic.

Some women may worry that their labia is abnormal because of extra skin, differences in length or because the inner lips protrude outside of the outer lips, but these are all normal variations.

During pregnancy, the labia can change in many ways, and as pregnancy progresses they can become more swollen and change colour to reddish/purple as the baby puts pressure on the genital area.

Vaginal childbirth may also lead to stretching and tears. Many women are left with pain and discomfort though for most this will heal over time. While stitching post birth can rectify most cosmetic issues some women, however, can be left dissatisfied with their altered appearance.

Learning to love your body with all its quirks is always the aim but if the cosmetic concern is becoming an issue the best option is to speak to a GP or gynecologist. They will be able to assess whether the issue would be considered a normal variation or not. Also communication with partners who, let’s face it, rarely worry too much about the look of their partner’s vulva, can often improve body image and confidence in the bedroom.

While kegal exercises are vital to maintaining and improving the pelvic floor muscles they do not change the cosmetic appearance of the vulva and some women may opt for surgery on the labia called labiaplasty. This is usually performed by a gynecologist or occasionally a plastic surgeon. Labiaplasty is an invasive operation and is not without risks and discomfort. There can also be clinical reasons for undergoing labiaplasty such as if there is pain, discomfort or incontinence issues post birth.

It is important to note that occasionally rashes, lumps, bumps, warts, and discreet areas of colour change on the labia may require examination by your GP or a Genito-Urinary Medicine Specialist.

Dr Aisling Loy is a consultant in sexual health, and medical director of Himerus Health.


sexual health