The American Society of Plastic Surgery reports that labiaplasty procedures have increased by 400 percent between 2011 and 2015. According to the ASPS, other female genital surgery procedures have also gained popularity, too, as more women are learning about and talking about these genital plastic surgery procedures.
Labiaplasty procedures alone jumped 39 percent in 2016, as over 12,000 women seeking this surgery last year. Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure that reduces the size or reshapes the labia. In most cases, the surgery is performed on the labia minora, or the inner labia, to its length. Some women are born with labia minora that protrude beyond the labia majora, or outer labia, but some women experience labia minora stretching during childbirth.
The labiaplasty procedure can also be performed on the labia majora, in a procedure called a labia majoraplasty. The procedure removes excess tissue from the outer labia or resculpts the outer labial tissue to achieve the specific look the patient wants.
Some women also experience their labia becoming misshapen or elongated because of age and gravity. Additionally, the fatty tissue of the labia can atrophy with age. This lost fatty tissue can be replaced with fat from another part of the body, collected via liposuction and injected into the labial folds to replace lost tissue.
Women who choose to have the labiaplasty procedure often cite reasons that they are uncomfortable with the appearance of their genitals, are self-conscious in swimwear or other tight fitting clothing and experience pain with intercourse or exercising.
"Women looking into labiaplasty and other genital surgery procedures are often tired of being uncomfortable in their clothes or with their partners," Dr. Mona Alqulali, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., said.
Alqulali is a Clinton, Iowa, OB-GYN who performs the labiaplasty procedure.
"Women are also becoming more aware of the size and shape of their labia because waxing and other grooming trends have become more popular," Alqulali said.
Labiaplasty surgery typically takes one to two hours, with a recovery time of about a week to 10 days. Patients are restricted from exercise and intercourse for several weeks after their surgery. The labiaplasty procedure is performed under general anesthesia.
Another procedure gaining popularity with women is the vaginoplasty procedure. The vaginoplasty procedure is for women who experience vaginal laxity, or a feeling of "looseness" after childbirth. Women with vaginal laxity may make some women feel self-conscious with their partners.
Another benefit of the vaginoplasty procedure to that it helps treat stress urinary incontinence, a condition that frequently occurs because of pregnancy and childbirth.
During the vaginoplasty procedure, muscles that were stretched to accommodate childbirth are stitched back together, decreasing the diameter or the vagina and strengthening the vaginal walls. Vaginoplasty and labiaplasty procedures are often combined. Recovery from the vaginoplasty procedure takes one to two weeks, and patients are placed on restriction from intercourse and exercise for up to 12 weeks.
Some women are also choosing the monsplasty, or public lift, procedure to reduce the size their mons pubis. The mons pubis is a small pad of fat that covers the public bone. The mons pubis area may bulge or protrude for some women, leaving them self-conscious or uncomfortable in tight fitting clothing.
The monsplasty procedure surgically removes extra skin and fatty tissue. Some physicians also offer liposuction as a way to reduce the mons pubis and some others are beginning to offer noninvasive, skin tightening options like Thermage, that use radiofrequency energy to tighten the skin and shrink the area. Recovery from the mons plasty procedure usually takes a week, but patients are restricted from exercise and strenuous activity for several weeks. Women interested in genital surgery procedures should consult a qualified provider to learn about their options.
Health, Why Thousands of Women Are Getting Surgery Down There, 1 March 2017
American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Understanding Female Genital Plastic Surgery Procedures, 30 March 2017