At What Age Can Women Begin Labiaplasty Surgery?

By: James Nachbar, MD, FACS


The labia are a set of skin folds that surround the opening of the vagina. Age, genetics, and childbirth can affect the appearance and size of the labia, which may cause discomfort during routine activities. A protruding or misshapen labia may cause pain while wearing tight clothes, exercising, and participating in sexual intercourse. At Scottsdale Plastic Surgery, double board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. James Nachbar (certified by both the American Board of Plastic Surgery as well as the American Board of Surgery) works with women near and throughout Scottsdale, AZ, providing innovative and complex labiaplasty surgery. He specializes in the “wedge” labiaplasty method to produce long-lasting, desirable outcomes.

What is labiaplasty?

Labiaplasty is an invasive surgical procedure used to correct abnormalities of the labia. The labia is made up of two types of folds: the labia minora (inner, smaller lips) and the labia majora (outer, larger lips). Over time, these folds may protrude or sag, causing pain or discomfort during routine activities. At Scottsdale Plastic Surgery, Dr. Nachbar develops a tailored surgical plan to address each patient’s unique concerns and personal goals.

Types of labiaplasty surgeries available

Dr. Nachbar typically uses two types of surgical procedures, depending on patient goals and his professional recommendations:

  • The Wedge procedure: This approach preserves the labia minora folds while tightening the front and back tissues, aesthetically improving the labia. Most often, the Dr. Nachbar combines the wedge excision of labia minora tissue with tightening of the clitorial hood area, because most patients want to reduce the appearance and exposure of labia minora tissue between the labia majora.

  • The Trimming procedure: Used for protrusion of the labia minora, this method is an amputation technique that can be performed by a gynecologist. While some patients may find this method suitable for their needs, Dr. Nachbar performs the trimming procedure in rare circumstances since this can still leave excess skin..

  • The "More Complete" or "Barbie" labiaplasty: This involves the removal of additional labia minora tissue to produce a flatter appearance. An occasional patient will request reduction of the covering the head of the clitoris, which can also be done.

  • Labia Majora Reduction: The "outer lips" or "labia majora" can also be reduced for patients with excess or loose tissue there. This can be done in combination with the wedge procedure or by itself.

Benefits of labiaplasty surgery

Women can experience numerous benefits from labiaplasty surgery, including:

  • Improved overall aesthetics of the intimate areas

  • Enhanced sensitivity for sexual pleasure

  • Reduced chafing and pain during exercise and wearing normal clothing Highly-customized surgical approach

  • Long-term cosmetic outcomes

  • Increased self-confidence

At what age can women begin labiaplasty surgery

It is recommended that women wait until they are at least 18 years or older to participate in labiaplasty surgery. Surgical procedures of the intimate areas for females younger than 18 should only be considered if the goal is to correct a more serious problem, such as when the excess labial tissue interferes with activity, and the pediatrician or family physician recommends treatment. Consult with Dr. Nachbar to address your unique concerns and personal goals to ascertain when a labiaplasty is right for you.

Ideal candidates for labiaplasty surgery

Women may be excellent candidates for labiaplasty surgery if they:

  • Are in good, general health

  • Are 18 years or older

  • Have protruding, sagging tissue

  • Want to improve the aesthetic look of their labia

  • Notice that the excess labial tissue gets caught in clothing or interferes with exercise or sexual activity

  • Need to correct a labiaplasty or trimming procedure that did not turn out well

  • Have enlarged labia due to genetics, age, or childbirth

  • Experience discomfort or pain in the intimate areas

Dr. Nachbar will assess your medical history and listen to your personal concerns to help you determine if you can safely participate in a labiaplasty. Once you’re approved for surgery, Dr. Nachbar will ascertain which labiaplasty approach is appropriate for you.

What the surgical process looks like

Each surgical process is different depending on the unique needs of each patient and the selected labiaplasty method. For most patients, the procedure is performed using general anesthesia so the patient can sleep throughout the entire process and so that Dr. Nachbar can produce optimal results the first time. Excess tissue is carefully removed without harming the clitoris (which is responsible for increased sensitivity in the intimate areas) and the urethral opening (for urination). The use of general anesthesia at a real surgery center allows Dr. Nachbar to use excellent lighting and surgical telescopes for ideal visualization of this compact and delicate area. Once your surgery is completed and you are approved for discharge, you may return home to begin your recovery.

Is there a recovery period after labiaplasty surgery?

Patients typically experience some swelling, bleeding, and discomfort after labiaplasty surgery. Bleeding from the labia tissue for several days is normal and can be managed with pads. Dr. Nachbar recommends the following tips to optimize healing:

  • Avoid sexual intercourse for at least eight weeks

  • Avoid activities and attire that press on the labial tissues, such as cycling and wearing tight-fitting pants or leggings

  • Ice the surgical area intermittently: 15 minutes on, 15 minutes off for the first few days to ease the swelling and discomfort

  • Don’t use tampons during the recovery phase so that the vaginal tissue can heal properly

Will a labiaplasty affect sensitivity?

Since correctly performed labiaplasty surgery does not change the clitoris, patients should expect to retain the sensitivity of the intimate areas. Dr. Nachbar does not make any incisions directly over the clitoris and does not operate where the clitoral nerves run. Additionally, tightening loose or protruding labial tissue can enhance sensitivity and improve sexual pleasure.

Learn more about qualifications for labiaplasty surgery

If you reside in or near Scottsdale, AZ, are 18 years or older, and are living with protruding or misshapen labial tissue that causes you daily pain or discomfort, contact us at Scottsdale Plastic Surgery and schedule a consultation today. Dr. James Nachbar will work with you to create a customized labiaplasty surgical plan that helps meet your unique needs and personal goals.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.