1. Labiaplasty is a pornographic procedure
This is an understandable misconception perhaps, but could not be further from the truth. Unless you have lived for years with the discomfort and embarrassment of too-prominent labia, you might not realize how relieved a woman can be to have them permanently reduced in size. Labia size is mostly inherited, although childbirth can affect the labia. Our grandmothers would never have thought that anything could be done to relieve this very private discomfort — and they were right, as this surgery was shunned in those days. Now however, we have more choices and plastic surgery has taken dramatic strides forward in the sophistication of technology and techniques. Why not avail yourself of its offerings?
2. A woman with large labia has brought that on herself by having intercourse too often
This myth is probably the opposite of the truth. A woman with large labia has probably had intercourse less often because of the embarrassment and discomfort. Labia size and shape are inherited and there is no way to change what you have other than by plastic surgery. We do not approach this procedure with any moral judgments in mind. It's a medical procedure, performed to relieve a woman of private distress that is hard to talk about.
3. Labiaplasty is just a fancy name for some kind of genital mutilation
Genital mutilation does happen in some countries. Young girls have had the clitoris removed in some cultures, for example. But think of how standard a circumcision has long been for males. It has typically been done shortly after birth for reasons of future hygiene. A labiaplasty is done much later in life, which is inevitable at present, since it has only recently been developed as a plastic surgery procedure. Perhaps in future decades it will be an accepted procedure for female infants who clearly have over-large labia which will cause future embarrassment and discomfort.
4. A labiaplasty's purpose is to increase the woman's sexual stimulation
The procedure might in some cases have that result. Particularly if the labia are so large that they interfere with vaginal penetration or stimulation of the clitoris. If there is less labial tissue in the way, sexual intercourse would be less awkward or embarrassing for the woman, and increased enjoyment could well be a benefit of that. That is not the procedure's purpose however. The purpose is to reduce over-large or unsightly tissue which causes discomfort, shows too prominently through clothing, and perhaps hurts the woman's self-confidence.
5. A labiaplasty is just another cosmetic procedure designed to pander to a woman's vanity
Cosmetic surgery and plastic surgery are often the same thing, just done for different reasons. Plastic surgery is reconstruction of the body after an accident or trauma, or to repair an inherited defect — for example, nose reconstruction after a car accident or ear surgery to correct genetic asymmetry. A labiaplasty can be done for either cosmetic or functional reasons, and is usually done for a mixture of both.
Some women have what is known as "camel toe", meaning a prominent vulva which shows through clothing (not only through form-fitting clothing like tights, but also through shorts or straight skirts). When the labia are reduced in size, the woman's shape is made flatter and more discreet, so that she need feel no embarrassment in shorts or a swimsuit. She will also be freed of the abrasiveness and inflammation that can result from clothing rubbing against the labia. So her reasons for having the labiaplasty might be two-sided — both cosmetic and functional. If her self-confidence is boosted as well, that is surely a healthy thing psychologically.
Chicago Plastic Surgeon Dr. Placik is a strong believer in patient education. If you would like to understand labiaplasty more clearly, and learn whether it might be a good option for you, please feel free to call our office in either Chicago or Arlington Heights, to arrange for a personal consultation. Alternatively, you could send our Chicago Plastic Surgery office an email.