This procedure modifies the appearance of the labia minora - the thin lips just around the opening of the vagina.
The labia minora can be large in some people and protrude significantly beyond the outer folds (labia majora). Sometimes the labia minora may be asymmetrical since birth or from previous gynaecological surgery.
Many women requesting this surgery are unhappy with the appearance of their genitals, but more commonly is the need to reduce the ongoing discomfort when performing sport or during sexual intercourse.
It is important to realise that there is a huge variation in the appearance of the "normal" labia minora and majora. Just because someone looks different from the photos seen in magazines or on the internet does not mean they need surgery.
The surgery involves removing excess skin where necessary and reconstructing using fine dissolving sutures. The technique I use hides the scars at the base of the labia minora, leaving the normal appearing external edge un-touched. Older techniques simply cut off the outside of the lips leaving a sensitive external scar and distorted appearance.
The operation is performed under general anaesthetic and usually as a day case procedure. Local anaesthetic is injected at the time of surgery to minimise post operative pain. You will be discharged home with antibiotics and pain killers, as well as an antibiotic ointment to apply to the area twice each day. It is fine to shower / bathe from day 1 and then gently dry before applying the ointment. No dressings are necessary but it is advisable to use underwear liners as some bleeding is common for the first few days.
It is important to refrain from vigorous exercise until the incisions have healed (about 4 - 6 weeks after surgery) - especially bicycle or horse riding and sexual intercourse.
Bleeding can occur from the incisions but is usually minor. Heavy bleeding may require a return to the operating theatre.
Infection of the wound is a risk but minimised with the use of antiobiotic tablets, antibiotic ointment and good personal hygiene.
Delayed wound healing may be due to skin edge necrosis or the breaking of some stitches. This usually settles with time but occasionally a return to theatre for re-suturing is advised.
Asymmetry. Despite the utmost attention to detail, there will always be some slight asymmetry following surgery.