Will labiaplasty improve sexual sensitivity? And, other questions about labiaplasty

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I've always wondered about labiaplasty, so I went to the foremost expert in the San Francisco Bay Area to find out more about the procedure. I sat down with Dr. Usha Rajagopal to get my questions answered. 

Okay Dr. Rajagopal, let's start with the basics, what is labiaplasty? 

Labiaplasty is the reduction of the labia majora (outer lips of the vulva) or labia minora (inner lips of the vulva). The process involves reduction of elongated labia or the modification of asymmetrical labia. When labia and vagina are created where there are none, the procedure is called vaginoplasty. Hoodectemy is another type of surgery in which the clitoral hood is reduced or removed in order to increase sexual function in women who have trouble having orgasms. 

Why do women get labiaplasty? 

Women get labiaplasty for different reasons. In my experience, the number one reason for a labiaplasty is the desire to reduce pain or discomfort experienced while wearing tight clothing (such as jeans or yoga pants) or playing sports (especially bike riding or horseback riding) or engaging in other physical activities. The second most common reason for labiaplasty is shame or embarrassment about the way their genitals look and the desire to change their appearance. Other times, women want to increase sexual function-- a reduction of the labia or clitoral hood can provide greater exposure of the clitoris, allowing for increased stimulation. Occasionally, a woman's labia are damaged during childbirth, and the procedure is restorative. 

How did you get involved in labiaplasty surgery? 

As a women, I know that perhaps no part of our bodies is so closely tied to our self esteem. Elongated labia can cause shame or embarrassment with sexual partners and sometimes cause pain or discomfort. I appreciate the opportunity to help women overcome these problems in their lives. It can make a huge difference in a woman's life to feel better about the way her body looks. There also aren't many female plastic surgeons and given that many women feel more comfortable having this procedure performed by a woman, so I felt it was important that I offer this procedure in my practice. 

I'm going to ask the question that's on everyone's mind-- will labiaplasty reduce sexual sensitivity?

If tissue around the clitoris is reduced, it may improve access to the clitoris and sexual senstitivity. Keep in mind that surgical technique is critical for the tissues around the clitoral area to heal correctly. The American College of Gynecology states that in cases in which the procedure has not been performed correctly, the tissue around the clitoris appeared disfigured.

How should I choose a qualified surgeon?
Make sure to check their credentials, before and after photos, as well as how many times they have performed the procedure.
How many times have you performed the procedure?
Over the past 12 years, several hundred times. At least 500 times.

How risky is this procedure? 

Well, whenever you're going to have any type of surgery, of course you want to choose your doctor very carefully! In the hundreds of surgeries I've performed, I've never had any problems in my practice. Nation wide statistics report very low percentages of women who experience any complications with the procedure. The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis-- women can go home after their surgery. 

Dr Rajagopal, thank you so much for answering my questions today. 

No problem, I'm happy to help. Women who have more questions about the procedure are welcome to schedule a free consultation with me. 

Article by
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon