Labiaplasty Surgery Side Effects: Surgery, Recovery & What To Expect

The Labiaplasty Surgery Side Effects, a critical aspect requiring thorough consideration, come under scrutiny as labiaplasty gains increased attention. Labiaplasty involves meticulous alterations to the labia minora or majora, aiming to enhance symmetry and alleviate discomfort. While generally safe, the surgical process is not without potential complications.

Surgical risks include infection, bleeding, or adverse reactions to anesthesia. Surgeons, leveraging their expertise, navigate these nuances delicately to ensure optimal outcomes.

Understanding your anatomy is integral. The labia consist of two folds of skin around the vagina opening—outer folds known as labia majora, which are larger and protect external genital organs, and inner folds known as labia minora, which safeguard the urethra and vagina opening. Pubic hair covers the labia majora after puberty.

Labiaplasty Surgery Side Effects
Labiaplasty Surgery Side Effects | Stock Photo

What Is Labiaplasty?

Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure to reduce or increase the size of your labia. People usually get this procedure to reduce physical discomfort or as part of gender-affirming surgery. Sometimes, you might want it for cosmetic reasons, but there’s a wide range of normal labia. Everyone’s labia are unique and there’s no ideal or “normal” way for them to look.

Your labia are the folds of skin around your vagina opening. You have two folds of skin there. The outer folds are called the labia majora, which means large lips. These are the larger fleshy folds that protect your external genital organs. They’re covered with pubic hair after puberty. The inner folds are called the labia minora, which means small lips. These skin folds protect the opening of your urethra (where your pee leaves your body) and vagina.

During a labiaplasty and depending on why you’re having it, your surgeon either:

  • Removes some tissue from your labia to reduce its size.
  • Injects a filler material or fat into your labia to enlarge it.
  • Reconstructs your labia from other tissue.

Why Would Someone Get A Labiaplasty?

There are three reasons why someone might get a labiaplasty: cosmetic and functional.

Cosmetic reasons

  • Women may feel self-conscious about the appearance of their labia minora and want them to be smaller or more symmetrical.
  • They may believe that their labia minora are abnormally large or out of proportion to their other genital features.
  • They may have been teased or ridiculed about the appearance of their labia minora, which has led to emotional distress.

Functional reasons

  • Women with large, pendulous labia minora may experience discomfort or irritation during activities such as walking, running, or wearing tight-fitting clothing.
  • They may also experience discomfort during s*xual intercourse or tampon use.
  • In rare cases, large labia minora may interfere with urination or defecation.

Gender-affirming reasons

Transgender women who are undergoing gender-affirming surgery may have labiaplasty as part of their overall transition process.

Other reasons

  • Women with certain medical conditions, such as lichen sclerosus, may experience pain or discomfort from their labia minora. Labiaplasty can help to relieve these symptoms.
  • Women who have had previous surgery on their genitals, such as a cesarean section or a hysterectomy, may experience changes in the appearance or function of their labia minora. Labiaplasty can help to restore their appearance or function.

It is important to note that there is a wide range of normal labia minora size and shape. If you are considering labiaplasty, it is important to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon to discuss your options and determine if the procedure is right for you.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind about labiaplasty:

  • Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure and carries some risks, such as infection, bleeding, and scarring.
  • The recovery period for labiaplasty can be uncomfortable and may require up to two weeks of downtime.
  • The results of labiaplasty are typically permanent, but there is a small risk of the labia minora returning to their original size or shape over time.

If you are considering labiaplasty, please do your research and talk to your doctor to make sure that the procedure is right for you.

What Causes A Labium To Become Oversized?

The exact cause of enlarged labia (also known as labial hypertrophy) is not fully understood, but it is likely due to a combination of genetic and hormonal factors.


Some people may be more prone to developing larger labia due to their genes. This may be due to the amount of collagen and elastin in their skin, which can affect the labia’s elasticity and size.

Hormonal factors

Hormonal changes can also affect the size of the labia. During puberty, estrogen and testosterone levels increase, which can lead to increased growth of the labia minora. Estrogen levels can also fluctuate during pregnancy and menopause, which can also affect the size of the labia.

Other factors

A number of other factors may also contribute to enlarged labia, including:

  • Friction: Regular friction from activities such as cycling, running, or wearing tight-fitting clothing can irritate and stretch the labia, leading to enlargement.
  • Genetic conditions: Certain genetic conditions, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Marfan syndrome, can affect the elasticity of the skin, which can contribute to enlarged labia.
  • Irritants: Exposure to irritants, such as soaps, detergents, or perfumes, can cause inflammation and irritation of the labia, which can lead to temporary swelling.
  • Chronic conditions: Certain chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, can increase the risk of skin changes, including enlargement of the labia.

If you are concerned about the size of your labia, it is important to talk to your doctor. They can help you determine if your labia are normal or if there is an underlying medical condition that is causing them to be enlarged. If your labia are causing you discomfort or pain, you may also want to discuss treatment options with your doctor.

Why Would Someone Get A Labiaplasty?

There are medical reasons for labiaplasty. There  are also physical, cosmetic and emotional reasons. Sometimes, labiaplasty is part of gender-affirming surgery.

Labiaplasty Surgery Side Effects
Labiaplasty Surgery Side Effects | Stock Photo

Medical and physical reasons

  • To reduce the size of your labia minora so they don’t protrude beyond the edges of the labia majora. Excess labial tissue can twist, turn, get pinched or tugged, and cause physical discomfort and irritation during exercise, physical activities (like bike riding or jogging) and intercourse.
  • To improve hygiene and health since excess tissue can make cleansing more difficult and can harbor bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Cosmetic and emotional reasons

  • To reduce asymmetry (uneven shape) of the labia minora or labia majora when one side is longer or shaped differently.
  • To improve comfort, confidence and s*xual well-being about the appearance of your genitalia during intimate contact. Keep in mind that people have a variety of lip sizes and shapes, and there’s no labial appearance that’s considered normal.

Gender-affirming surgery

If surgery is part of a gender-affirming process, your surgeon can create labia using existing genital tissue. You may also have labiaplasty before or after other reconstruction surgeries.

What Causes A labium To Become Oversized?

  • Puberty can cause a growth spurt in your labia.
  • Menopause or other hormonal changes can thin the tissue of your labia majora.
  • Pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Changes in your weight.
  • Genetics.

What Is The Average Age For Labiaplasty?

The average age for labiaplasty can vary depending on the reason for the procedure, but it typically falls within the range of 18 to 50 years old.

Here’s a breakdown of the age groups and their common reasons for considering labiaplasty:

  • 18-25 years old: This age group often seeks labiaplasty for cosmetic reasons, such as wanting to reduce the size or asymmetry of their labia minora. They may also experience functional difficulties, like discomfort during exercise or irritation from tight clothing.
  • 26-35 years old: Women in this age range may still have cosmetic concerns, but they might also be motivated by functional issues that become more noticeable with age or after childbirth. Additionally, some women in this group may be exploring their gender identity and consider labiaplasty as part of their gender-affirming journey.

  • 36-50 years old: In this age group, functional concerns often take precedence, with women seeking relief from discomfort caused by larger labia minora. However, some women may still have cosmetic concerns, especially if they’ve experienced changes in their genital appearance due to hormonal fluctuations or childbirth.

It’s important to note that labiaplasty is not solely age-dependent. Some teenagers may require the procedure for functional reasons due to medical conditions, while older adults may choose it for cosmetic reasons or to address discomfort caused by age-related changes.

Ultimately, the decision to undergo labiaplasty is a personal one that should be made in consultation with a qualified healthcare professional. They can help you understand your options, weigh the risks and benefits, and determine if the procedure is right for you.

What Are The Risks And Complications of Labia Surgery?

While generally safe, carries certain risks and complications you should be aware of before making a decision. Here’s a breakdown:

Short-term risks:

  • Bleeding: Mild bleeding is common after labiaplasty and usually subsides within a few days. However, excessive bleeding can be a serious complication requiring immediate medical attention.

  • Infection: Any surgical procedure carries the risk of infection, which can manifest as redness, swelling, pus discharge, and fever. Early detection and treatment with antibiotics are crucial.

  • Swelling and bruising: Swelling and bruising around the surgical site are expected and typically subside within a few weeks. Applying ice packs and elevating the area can help manage these discomforts.

  • Pain: Discomfort and pain are common after labiaplasty and can be managed with pain medication prescribed by your doctor.

Long-term risks:

  • Scarring: While scarring is inevitable after any surgery, the extent can vary. Keloid scars, which are raised and itchy, are a rare but possible complication.

  • Reduced sensitivity: Damage to nerves during the surgery can lead to decreased sensitivity in the labia minora, affecting s*xual pleasure.

  • Asymmetry: Achieving perfect symmetry in the labia minora may not always be possible, potentially leading to dissatisfaction with the cosmetic outcome.

  • Unsatisfactory results: In rare cases, the results of labiaplasty may not meet the patient’s expectations, requiring further surgery.

Recovery And Outlook

Is labiaplasty really painful?

You may experience swelling, discomfort, and pain, but these symptoms are typically manageable with over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or prescription drugs for a short duration. If the recommended medications do not effectively alleviate your discomfort, reach out to your surgeon for further guidance. Additionally, home remedies, such as applying a cold compress or icepack to the surgical area (over a cloth undergarment) in 20-minute intervals, can help reduce pain and swelling. Many individuals report only mild pain or tenderness lasting a few days.

Sea shell in the form of female genitalia, vagina, inscription on the sand labiaplasty. female beauty concept — Stock Photo, Image

To prevent infection, your healthcare team may prescribe an oral antibiotic or provide a topical antibiotic for your surgical wound.

During the healing period, opt for loose-fitting pants and undergarments. Avoid tight-fitting clothing, as it may cause friction against the wound, potentially impeding the healing process.

How do I wash my labia area after surgery?

Use lukewarm water exclusively (without soap) to cleanse your wound. After urination, gently wipe or pat the area dry without rubbing the surgical site.

Your surgeon may prescribe medication or suggest a specific diet to prevent constipation, reducing the risk of straining that could potentially stretch or break your stitches.

Adhere to all postoperative instructions provided by your healthcare provider, including guidance on:

  • Urination and bowel movements.
  • Maintaining cleanliness and preventing bacterial contamination in the surgical area.
  • Allowing the surgical site adequate time to heal.

How long do the results of labiaplasty last?

Labiaplasty, when performed as a reduction surgery, is intended to be a single, enduring procedure. In the absence of complications, there might be no necessity for a repeat surgery. However, enhancement labiaplasty, involving the injection of fat or fillers, may require occasional “touch-ups” over time.

It’s important to be aware that deciding to have children after undergoing labiaplasty may impact the results. Many individuals opt to postpone labiaplasty until after completing their families.

What Experts Say

Dr. Lauren Sundy, OB-GYN and vulvovaginal surgeon:

“Labiaplasty is generally a safe procedure, but it’s important to be aware of potential side effects, both short-term and long-term. These can include bleeding, infection, swelling, bruising, and pain. Less common but more serious risks include nerve damage, which can lead to decreased sensitivity, and keloid scarring. It’s crucial to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience in labiaplasty to minimize these risks.”

Dr. Christine Greves, urogynecologist and expert in female pelvic health:

“While labiaplasty can address functional concerns like discomfort during exercise or hygiene, it’s important to remember that it’s a cosmetic surgery and shouldn’t be solely based on aesthetics. Patients should be realistic about their expectations and understand that perfect symmetry or complete elimination of discomfort might not always be achievable. Open communication with your doctor is key to ensure informed decision-making and manage potential side effects effectively.”

Dr. Jessica Shepherd, board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of The Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery:

“The decision to undergo labiaplasty is a personal one, and patients should weigh the potential benefits against the risks and complications. It’s important to have realistic expectations and understand that the healing process can take several weeks. Following your doctor’s post-operative instructions carefully is crucial to minimize risks and ensure optimal recovery.”

Dr. Elizabeth Stewart, clinical psychologist and expert in body image and s*xuality:

“The psychological impact of labiaplasty can be significant. Patients considering this procedure should explore their motivations and address any underlying body image concerns. It’s important to remember that labiaplasty may not necessarily solve all emotional or s*xual issues, and seeking psychological support before and after the procedure can be beneficial.”

Key Takeaway

Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure addressing aesthetic and functional concerns related to the labia. The surgery involves altering the labia minora or majora to enhance symmetry and alleviate discomfort. While generally safe, it is not without risks, including infection, bleeding, and reactions to anesthesia. The decision to undergo labiaplasty is personal, and individuals may choose it for cosmetic, functional, or gender-affirming reasons.

It’s crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare professional, follow postoperative instructions diligently, and be aware of potential risks and complications associated with the procedure. Additionally, recovery involves managing symptoms with medications, maintaining cleanliness, and allowing sufficient time for healing. Labiaplasty results, especially in reduction surgery, are intended to be long-lasting, but enhancement procedures may require periodic touch-ups. Considerations such as childbirth after the procedure may impact the results, prompting some individuals to wait until completing their families.

Also Read: Understanding 3 Different Types Of Labiaplasty Techniques: Everything You Should Know

Note: This article is written based on scientific evidence found by the team. Sources are duly referenced with keywords hyperlinked to source websites and are clickable for reference.