Embarrassed by the appearance of your female anatomy? You’re not alone.
People just started warming up to the idea that Botox and boob jobs are becoming a social norm, and now an even more intimate procedure is throwing a wrench in people’s plastic surgery comfort zones. For most people just saying the word labia makes them red in the face, so the idea that you can enhance their appearance is bewildering. But labiaplasty (Worth It rating 80 percent) is becoming more and more requested in plastic surgeon’s offices across the country, because women want to feel better naked — and that means more than just their breasts, stomachs and legs.
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But what makes one vagina more attractive than another? And why are women so interested in achieving vaginal beauty? After scouring through the RealSelf community, I discovered that hundreds of women from their 20s to their 60s are insecure about the way they look downstairs and it affects their self confidence and their sex lives. For some women, their labias even cause them serious pain and discomfort. To find out more about this private procedure, I spoke with a pioneer in the field of female genital surgeries Dr. Gary Alter about how it’s done and why more and more women are doing it.
RS: What common complaints do women have who are interested in labiaplasty?
Dr. Alter: The majority of women who see me who are interested in labiaplasty don’t like the appearance [of their labia minora], they think it’s too large and are somewhat embarrassed by it. However most of them also have some discomfort either with clothes, exercise, or even sexual intercourse.
RS: Do you see mostly mothers, or is a procedure for women of all ages?
Dr. Alter: The labia reduction isn’t really related to childbirth, they can stretch a little bit after childbirth, but it’s related more to genetics. It’s just kind of the way your born. I’ve done the procedure on girls as young as 12 or 13, so it’s just how your born basically. They can get larger sometimes if a woman takes body building hormones.
RS: What do women want their labias to look like?
Dr. Alter: They don’t want their inner lips as large, they’d rather have it so that when they stand up the inner lips do not go past the outer lips.
RS: What is the procedure like?
Dr. Alter: Majority of doctors do the trimming method, but I don’t do it because I personally think that the wedge technique is superior. I invented the wedge technique, and I’ve been doing them for 17, 18 years. What I do is reduce the size of the inner lip by taking a triangle, or wedge, from the part that sticks out the most. That disconnects the top from the bottom and then I suture it together, so it makes the lips smaller but maintains the natural contour and natural labia lips because the suture goes from the inside across the edge and then along the side on the outside. In addition when I do that I will often remove some excess folds from the clitoral hood. I usually do it under general anesthesia, but I can do it under local anesthesia too.
With the trimming method you use a knife, a scalpel or a laser it’s just kind of trimming the entire edge of the labia so the scar goes across the entire length of the labia. So instead of having a normal labia edge, you have a scar basically.
RS: What is the recovery like?
Dr. Alter: You can go back to work, depending on what you do, in a couple of days. It’s not very painful and exercise in three to four weeks, have sex in sex weeks.
Real stories from the community
“Since I was a child, my inner labia have always been somewhat stretched looking. They sort of hang exterior of the labia majora when standing with my legs together…Now, I look much better (no hanging skin), and I feel more confident to share how I look intimately (with my partner). I’m no longer afraid of what a new sexual partner will feel when they put their hands down there for the first time — a fear I have had since I first became sexually active. No one has ever said anything to me. But, I knew there was room for improvement. It has always been a nagging feeling that prevented me from being confident intimately or when naked. I believe it has affected my entire sex life. (I’m now 43.)”– Jaxhook
“I had my vaginal lips reduced several years ago and my only regret was that I had not done it sooner. I never liked the way they looked or felt as they were too damn big.” — Jennygirl
“I had always had discomfort from my large lips and also felt insecure about their appearance. Being a model who has done some nude shots, I had heard a lot of comments from photographers that brought down my self esteem, like “Your a gorgeous girl but your vagina looks like it belongs to a 70 year old”! So i decided to get the surgery. I love the results and feel more complete as a woman and all my insecurities about myself “down there” are definatly gone.” — Tbaby17
“I have wanted to get this done since I was about 22. All the sudden one day- it didnt look like I remembered, I dont know if it was hormonal changes or what- but all I know is that it bothered me. I was self conscious. The final straw was when a lover said” Your vagina is screaming at me.” I broke down after that.” –SarahB
“I have wanted this done since I was 12 years old and have been embarrassed about the size of my labia my entire life to the point where it has always interfered with my relationships. Now my sex life is so much more comfortable with my boyfriend as I am not self conscious anymore about the appearance of my vagina.”– anonymousclient
“I am a 20 year old girl, and ever since I could remember I have been unhappy with the experience with my inner vaginal lips. I got the courage to tell my GP that I was unhappy whilst I was having a Papsmere approximately 3 months ago, and was told every woman is different and don’t be embarrassed by it and was told it would cost thousands. I went home and told my boyfriend who is very supportive. I honestly hated having sex with him because I have never had the big O, because there was to much awkward skin and was just uncomfortable always constantly pulling my labia out, lube-ing up and re-arranging myself. The sex was painful but I did not want my boyfriend to know that.”–Perth
Have YOU had labiaplasty? Share your story with the labiaplasty community here.
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