labiaplasty patient

Many changes happen to a woman’s body over time. Some are immediately visible and difficult to disguise, while others occur in the most intimate and private areas. Excess skin on the labia minora often occurs after childbirth, weight fluctuations, hormonal variations or the aging process. In other women, enlarged labias occur naturally and may be a lifelong source of anxiety or discomfort.

Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure designed to address both cosmetic and functional problems affecting the appearance and comfort of the inner and outer vaginal lips. As a female plastic surgeon practicing in Virginia, Dr. Roberta Gartside is uniquely equipped to understand the delicacy of this procedure and appreciate its necessity. She welcomes an opportunity to meet with you to discuss your concerns, cover your options and help you determine if a labiaplasty procedure is right for your needs.

To schedule your labiaplasty consultation with our board-certified plastic surgeon, please contact New Image Plastic Surgery Associates online or by calling 703-742-8004 today. We have offices in Reston and McLean to better serve women living throughout Virginia, as well as those who live in nearby areas of Washington D.C. and Maryland.

What Is Labiaplasty?

Labiaplasty is a female genital plastic surgery procedure in which issues with the labia minora (inner vaginal lips) and labia majora (outer lips) are corrected. This procedure can change the size, shape or thickness of the labia by making them smaller or addressing issues with asymmetry between them.

Removing excess labia tissue can be desirable for both cosmetic reasons and functional reasons. Women with cosmetic concerns are unhappy with the physical appearance of the vulva, often due to uneven or protruding labia minora. They may feel embarrassed during intimacy with a partner or self-conscious in snug-fitting clothing and swimsuits. Women with functional concerns related to an enlarged labia may experience pain during intercourse or while participating in activities like cycling or horseback riding. They may also deal with unpleasant symptoms like chafing or have difficulty maintaining proper hygiene.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), labiaplasty has seen a significant rise recently, with a 39% increase and over 12,000 procedures across the U.S. in 2016.

Benefits of Labiaplasty

Labiaplasty is a wonderfully effective way to restore comfort and form to your vagina without impacting sensitivity or sexual ability. Dr. Gartside understands the concerns you may have regarding this sensitive area and works with you to address your unique situation so that you can feel good and look good.

There are many reasons why women may consider having a labiaplasty procedure. Whether it’s because of physical difficulties or emotional and cosmetic dissatisfaction, Dr. Gartside will be happy to answer any questions you may have about this procedure and to help you better understand how it can assist you in regaining the confidence and comfort you deserve.

The benefits of the labiaplasty procedure include:

  • Decreasing discomfort when exercising or participating in sports
  • Addressing diminished sexual stimulation, including excessive clitoral covering
  • Addressing concerns with frequent irritation brought about by protrusion
  • Fixing hygienic difficulties
  • Giving the vulva a more youthful appearance
  • Helping with the embarrassment when wearing form-fitting clothing or a bathing suit
  • Addressing emotional discomfort when around intimate partners

Candidates for Labiaplasty

Many women who wish to undergo the labiaplasty procedure do so to address physical and emotional discomfort in their genital area. Like all surgical procedures, it’s important to understand that certain factors may determine your eligibility for treatment. During your initial consultation, Dr. Gartside will go over your current health status as well as your medical history to make sure that this procedure will be safe and effective for you.

Candidates for labiaplasty generally include women who:

  • Are in good physical health
  • Are fully developed
  • Have enlarged, drooping or asymmetrical vaginal lips
  • Feel self-conscious about the size, color or shape of their labia
  • Experience tugging or chafing when wearing clothing that fits close to the groin
  • Experience discomfort during activities like cycling, running or sex
  • Do not smoke or drink, or who can commit to stopping both for a time prior to and after the procedure
  • Are not on some medications such as aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and blood thinners, or can stop these prior to the procedure

It’s important to note that labiaplasty surgery is not designed to enhance sexual pleasure or satisfaction. It also does not address loose vaginal muscles. Labiaplasty focuses solely on improving the outer appearance of the labia. If your goal is to increase sexual satisfaction or tighten the vaginal canal, talk with Dr. Gartiside about other procedures and options.

Labiaplasty vs. Nonsurgical Vaginal Rejuvenation

Labiaplasty is very effective at recontouring and resizing the labia. Although it is the most common form of vaginal rejuvenation, it is not the only option. Dr. Gartside is also happy to provide a less invasive procedure called ThermiVa® which can be discussed as an alternative to labiaplasty and can address other issues apart from the ones mentioned above.

ThermiVa® is a nonsurgical, in-office procedure that uses radiofrequency energy to tighten the labia, as well as the vaginal canal. Treatment sessions are painless and generally last about 30 minutes with no recovery period afterward. For best results, three ThermiVa® treatment sessions over a course of three months is recommended.

Both of these treatments are effective. There is no “better” option for all patients, but there will likely be a better choice for you based on your individual anatomy, lifestyle and personal goals. Dr. Gartside will guide you through the decision-making process to help you select the procedure that is best-equipped to give you your desired results.

Preparing for Your Labiaplasty

When you meet with Dr. Gartside for your initial consultation, you will discuss your particular concerns and your expectations for the labiaplasty procedure. Dr. Gartside understands that this can be a very sensitive and private conversation. She approaches every consultation with the utmost discretion and personal concern, and strives to make New Image Plastic Surgery a welcoming, considerate and judgment-free space. Due to its intimate nature, consultations for labiaplasty are one-on-one with Dr. Gartside only.

This meeting is the time for you to ask questions and learn more about labiaplasty from an expert surgeon. It’s important to be as open and honest with Dr. Gartside as possible. This allows her to determine the best treatment option for your unique circumstances. Based on what she learns during your consultation, she will build an individualized surgical plan and provide you with a list of preparatory instructions to follow leading up to your procedure.

Labiaplasty Technique Options

There are two main surgical techniques to address oversized labia minora: the edge technique and the wedge technique.

The edge or trim technique is the original approach for labiaplasty and is still widely used by surgeons. In this procedure, excess tissue along the outer edge of the labia minora is removed and sutured, reducing protrusion and creating a smoother, more proportionate edge. The incision and resulting scar runs along the length of the edge of the labia minora. This is the simplest and least invasive technique.

The wedge technique is a newer approach. In this procedure, a V-shaped wedge is removed from the thickest part of the labia minora and the remaining tissues are sutured together. This technique leaves the outer edge intact, preserving the natural shape and color of the labia minora. Wedge labiaplasty is a more complex surgery, but more tissue can be removed with this technique and it leaves a smaller, less conspicuous scar.

Complementary Procedures

It is not uncommon for patients to undergo more than one procedure during the same surgical session. Some of the procedures our Virginia patients choose to pair with labiaplasty include:

Clitoral Hood Reduction

Some women struggle to be sufficiently stimulated during intercourse when there is excess tissue surrounding the clitoris. Clitoral hood reduction removes the excess tissue, uncovering more of the clitoris for improved sexual sensation. The redundant skin can also be trimmed to improve aesthetics in this area.


Due to aging or weight gain, the area over the pubic bone (mons pubis) may become enlarged or saggy, resulting in an embarrassing bulge and discomfort. Liposuction can be utilized to remove excess fat and achieve a flatter, slimmer, better proportioned pubic region. This procedure can be completed quickly and with minimal scarring.

Mommy Makeover

“Mommy makeover” refers broadly to a set of procedures sought out by women who wish to address some of the undesirable effects motherhood can have on the body. Labiaplasty is a natural fit for mommy makeover surgery, given that it improves an area of the body that can be profoundly affected by childbirth.

Labiaplasty Procedure and Recovery

Because each woman is unique, the circumstances for the procedure may differ from patient to patient. Generally, labiaplasty is an outpatient procedure that is comfortably performed in our private office under local anesthesia. The procedure is usually completed within two hours.

The surgery consists of using a specialized laser, scalpel or scissors to trim larger or uneven the inner labia. The incision location depends on various factors, including the arrangement, thickness and size of the labia. The closure of the trimmed areas is usually done with dissolvable sutures.

After the procedure, Dr. Gartside recommends taking a week off of work to manage pain and allow time for swelling to reduce. Oral pain medication and loose clothing can help keep you comfortable during the early stages of your recovery. You will be able to wear tampons and have sex generally within four to six weeks. While the majority of swelling is usually gone within six weeks, there may be residual swelling that lasts up to six months.

Dr. Gartside will meet with you during the healing process to monitor your progress and address any concerns that arise. She will also give you additional instructions for your recovery that are personal to you.

Life After Labiaplasty

According to the ASPS, labiaplasty surgery has a 90% satisfaction rate among women. Many patients call it “life-changing.” After labiaplasty, women report feeling more comfortable with their appearance, more satisfied in their sexual life and a greater sense of freedom and femininity. Removing excess tissue from the labia can significantly reduce physical discomfort and embarrassment, and give you the confidence to engage in intimate moments and wear clothing you may have avoided previously.

Labiaplasty does not affect your ability to become pregnant or have a vaginal delivery, nor does it affect sexual sensation or the ability to have an orgasm. The excess labial tissue will not return, although the remaining tissue could stretch out over time due to weight fluctuations, aging or having another child.

Contact a Virginia Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon Today

While many of the most popular cosmetic procedures focus on visible areas of the face and body, there are also solutions for women’s most intimate areas. Vaginal rejuvenation is one of the fastest-growing fields of plastic surgery in the United States. Whether you have never been comfortable with the appearance of your vulva, or you have noticed changes over time, Dr. Roberta Gartside can help.

Dr. Gartside is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and makes it her mission to help you reach your aesthetic goals by using the most advanced techniques and technologies. At New Image Plastic Surgery, we understand that issues with your labia are a sensitive topic — that’s why you can feel comfortable knowing that as a woman, Dr. Gartside appreciates your concerns and works with you every step of the way to make the experience comfortable, safe and effective for you.

If you are considering labiaplasty or wish to learn more about the procedure, please call us at 703-742-8004 today. Dr. Gartside welcomes women from Washington D.C. and all areas of Virginia at our Reston and McLean locations.