What You Should Know About Labiaplasty

Featured Speaker

Elizabeth (Liz) Renaker-Jansen, DO

Elizabeth (Liz) Renaker-Jansen, DO

Elizabeth (Liz) Renaker-Jansen, DO Areas of Special Clinical Interest include Breast reconstruction surgery, breast and body cosmetic surgery and skin cancer/facial rejuvenation.

About this Podcast

Elizabeth (Liz) Renaker-Jansen, DO Areas of Special Clinical Interest include Breast reconstruction surgery, breast and body cosmetic surgery and skin cancer/facial rejuvenation.

You have probably heard of breast lifts and tummy tucks but may not be familiar with a procedure called labiaplasty According to the American Society of Plastics Surgeons, labiaplasty procedures are on the rise.

So, what is labiaplasty? Labiaplasty is considered a vaginal rejuvenation procedure where excess labia minora tissue is trimmed or shortened so that it does not hang below the labia majora. This procedure may be done for cosmetic or functional reasons.

Women may be self-conscious and concerned that the excess labia tissue may peek through their underwear or swimsuit. In addition, some women experience physical discomfort when doing physical activities like riding a bike or during sexual intercourse. Labiaplasty can relieve the discomfort and may improve sexual pleasure. After the procedure, many women feel more comfortable wearing yoga pants and other work-out gear. Multiple studies report labiaplasty is a safe and effective procedure with patient satisfaction rates over 94%.

Labiaplasties are performed in an outpatient setting so you are able to return home the same day. The entire procedure takes about an hour. There are two different approaches: trim labiaplasty and wedge labiaplasty. Trim labiaplasty involves trimming the tissue and stitching it back together. The wedge labiaplasty is performed by removing a wedge section of the tissue and stitching the edges back together.

Not everyone is a candidate for labiaplasty. You must be in good health prior to having the surgery. The plastics surgeon will perform an initial evaluation to determine if you are a candidate for labiaplasty and help determine which is the best approach for you.
Most health insurance plans don't cover labiaplasty, or other plastic surgery that's elective rather than medically necessary. Only occasionally, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, is labiaplasty medically necessary, such as with labia hypertrophy (overgrowth) caused by excess testosterone, congenital conditions, or chronic irritation.


Caitlin Whyte (Host): Welcome to Aspirus Health Talk. I'm Caitlin Whyte. You've probably heard of breast lifts and tummy tucks, but you may not be familiar with a procedure called labiaplasty. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, labiaplasty procedures are on the rise. So, today we're talking with Dr. Elizabeth Renaker-Jansen, a Plastic Surgeon with Aspirus about this procedure. So, Doctor start us out here with some basics. Just what is labiaplasty?

Elizabeth (Liz) Renaker-Jansen, DO (Guest): Labiaplasty is a surgery involving excising the excess tissue that females feel that they have along their external genitalia or, you know, our labia. So, it's just the removal of that excess tissue.

Host: Now what would cause a woman to have this extra tissue in the vaginal area? How do I know if I have extra?

Dr. Renaker-Jansen: Some people feel like they've always had extra. So, some women are born with it. So, we do see a population of patients who are in their early twenties, who, you know, they've known it's always been there. And so they would like it excised. Then there's also some women who, after having children or as we get older in age and things tend to age as well, they will notice that they have excess skin along their labia and they will kind of come seek our consultation. A lot of times with those population of patients, they feel that their labia, they don't just know that their labia are little bit bigger, but they feel like even in clothing, people can see it or they feel irritation down there. So, they, you know, seek us to see if there's a way to correct the excess.

Host: Well that kind of leads me into my next question. What are some reasons that women get this procedure done?

Dr. Renaker-Jansen: So, women want to have this procedure done typically because of this excess skin. And they're kind of embarrassed by it. They don't think it "looks normal." And so they want it removed so that they can feel like their external genitalia looks like I just said, "normal." But some people actually come to me with like functional problems, meaning their labia, maybe stick together.

So, when they try to use the restroom, it's not always the easiest or that when they do use the restroom, they feel like they're, when they void the urine kind of runs down their leg. So, maybe it gets in the way. And I do have a subset of patients who I think have a hard time wearing clothing because of their labia either kind of bulge in certain pants or when they wear other pants, it rubs on it and causes chronic irritation.Host: So, then tell us a bit more about the procedure. What does it look like? What's recovery time like? Just the gist of the whole thing.

Dr. Renaker-Jansen: Yeah. So, the procedure's pretty basic. I can usually do it here in the office under local. Most women really tolerate it just being done under local, you know, local injection, which kind of surprises us. Cause we always think it's kind of sensitive down there, but I've never had a patient not tolerate it well. So, in the office, we, like I just said, we numb everything up to make it nice and comfortable. And then I mark out the excision of where we're going to remove the extra, extra tissue. There's two different ways to do it. There's something called a trim labiaplasty where it's almost like trimming the side of everything or you can do a wedge where you're almost taking, you know, a piece of tissue in a wedge pattern out. Either way is totally acceptable.

It's just based off of your each patient's individual anatomy as to which way we do it. And the procedure takes usually about two hours since it's, you know, an hour a side to excise everything and then get it closed up. The downtime, I think is the most cumbersome for people. Because even though it's a small area, they feel that things should be back to normal within a week.

But unfortunately we have a lot of swelling down there and you don't want the incision or where I put the sutures to open up. So, there's restrictions of like pelvic rest for about a month after surgery. And sometimes we have to give you medications to make sure you don't get yeast infections and that kind of stuff.

Host: Now it sounds like there's a range of reasons that women come in, but are you seeing a certain age that wants this done?

Dr. Renaker-Jansen: You know, I don't think there's a certain age. Like I said before, I think some of my patients are, you know, in their twenties when they feel like this doesn't look normal to them. So, they kind of want to be examined and reviewed and we can talk about what's the standard of normal, but then I also have my, I wouldn't say older population, but the population that's in like their forties or their fifties. And they just feel the same thing that it used to look different. And now that they've had kids, or as they've gotten older, that, that's now kind of "stretched out." And so that's kind of those two shifts of patient populations I see.

Host: So, as we wrap up here, Doctor, who would you say is a good candidate for this surgery?

Dr. Renaker-Jansen: You know, I think everybody needs to be evaluated, honestly, because some people think that they have extra skin. And then when you look at the whole, their anatomical external genitalia, everything does look normal. So, I think if patients feel that they want an examination and see if this is normal or abnormal, they are always more than welcome to come in. As a whole, most patients are a candidate, if we find that the excess along that skin margin.

Host: Great. Well, doctor, is there anything else about labiaplasty that we didn't touch on that you want women to know?

Dr. Renaker-Jansen: No, but more just kind of about yourself that, you know, it's normal for everybody to look a little bit different and then we shouldn't all be just trying to fit some norm of what we think they should look like, but more of doing this, so we feel more comfortable about ourselves.

Host: No, absolutely. I love that. Always a good reminder. Thank you for joining us today, Doctor, you know, I had never heard of his procedure before today, so I'm so glad I learned about it with you. For more information about labiaplasty head to aspirus.org/renew or call 715-870-2162. That's 715-870-2162.

Please also remember to subscribe, rate and review this podcast and all of the other Aspirus podcasts. For more health tips and updates, follow us on your social channels. I'm Caitlin Whyte. Stay well.