Normal labia appearance
There is a very wide spectrum of what a "normal" vagina looks like, and that normal spectrum is not always portrayed in the media, making many women self conscious of their own appearance. So please keep that in mind. However, if the appearance of your labia makes you uncomfortable or lack confidence, then you should absolutely consider a labiaplasty. I always tell my patients that any plastic surgery procedure is about helping them feel their best! If a labiaplasty is going to make you feel your best, then why not? Just make sure you undergo the procedure with a board certified plastic surgeon who has a lot of experience with labiaplasty procedures.
Is this normal?
Thank you for sharing your question and photograph. There is a wide spectrum in a female's genital anatomy and your labia are well within normal. The darkening of the edges of your labia minora are due to hormonal changes, while your genetics plays a role in the size and appearance of the tissues. Your concerns are similar to women who elect to undergo a labiaplasty and I would recommend speaking to a labiaplasty surgeon to discuss possible treatment options that would help you attain an appearance you are after. Best wishes.
Darkened labia. Is this normal?
The picture you have posted show a normal variation in both color and size of your labia minora. Darkened edges to this tissue are very common. Also, the redundancy that you have to the labia is a common appearance that I often see in women who consult for labiaplasty. If this bothers you on a physical or appearance level, then a consultation to discuss possible labiaplasty would be appropriate. Be sure to find a surgeon with experience in labiaplasty as it is a delicate procedure.
I reviewed your photo. Your labia minora are enlarged. Since you are self conscious, a labiaplasty is a good idea, but it must be performed by a surgeon with experience. One of the two most common techniques is the central wedge technique, which I invented in 1995 and published in the plastic surgery textbooks. It is also known as the "V" or wedge technique. Gynecologists and most plastic surgeons perform a labioplasty very differently. They essentially trim the labia minora (inner vaginal lips) and leave a long suture line instead of the normal labial edge. Their technique is the same whether a scalpel or a laser is used. In contrast, the central wedge removes triangles of tissue and bring the normal edges together. Thus, the normal labial edges, normal color, and normal anatomy are preserved, but the darkest labial tissue is usually removed. If you have extra tissue on your clitoral hood, it can be reduced it at the same time. No matter the technique, an inexperienced or unskilled surgeon can lead to a high rate of complications, chronic scar discomfort, labial deformities, and further surgery.
Gary J. Alter, M.D.
Beverly Hills, CA - Manhattan, NY
Is this normal?
Thank you for your question and photo. Your anatomy is normal. We do labiaplasties due to cosmetic concerns, which you have, or reasons from irritation from clothing, exercise and sex. You are a good candidate for labia minora reduction and clitoral hood reduction. I prefer the wedge resection technique which removes the darkest colored skin, but leaves a normal un-scarred labial edge. This surgery I do in the privacy of our certified in office operating suite under local anesthesia with minimal oral sedation. Patients experience zero pain and most doze off during the procedure. See a board certified plastic surgeon or gynecologist with extensive experience in female genital cosmetic surgery for an in person consultation/evaluation. Good luck.
Indication for Labiaplasty
Your story and concerns are in good company with almost ever other patient that undergoes labiaplasty and/or clitoral hood reduction (aka hoodectomy). Based upon your photos, your anatomy is very typical of someone who seriously considers having these procedures and experiences a major boost in (sexual) self-confidence and pleasure thereafter.
Labiaplasty, which most commonly involves surgical reduction of the labia minora (inner/thinner lips) but not infrequently trimming or tucking of the labia majora (outer/thicker lips), has become a relatively common procedure over the last ten and even more so last five years. Most commonly it is done under light sedation (aka twighlight sleep) with local anesthesia, in which case the patient should feel no pain during the operation. Whether the surgery is done using a laser, scalpel, or scissors does not really matter but what does matter is "symmetry". Symmetry is the most important aspect to the final aesthetic result. Most women, just like yourself, prefer to have as much of the darker pigmented edges removed as possible. Also, it's not how much tissue is removed but how much is left remaining because a certain amount is necessary to maintain proper form and function - typically ~10 mm or so of the dry part of the labia. To achieve these three most important elements, I have found that the "Trim Method" satisfies best. It is extremely important to consult with a board certified plastic surgeon that specializes in this operation (does at least 1 - 2 per week). It may cost you a bit more but it is this type of result you will want to live with for the rest of your life. Typical (all inclusive) fee at my office/surgery center is $4500.
Although there is no guarantee, women frequently do seek clitoral hood reduction (Hoodectomy) to improve exposure of the clitoris and hence better stimulation during sexual activity. By removing some of the excess &/or redundant skin concealing the clitoris, it becomes more readily exposed to sexual stimulation and hence a heightened sexual experience/orgasm is possible. Sometimes I recommend adding hoodectomy to labiaplasty to better harmonize the aesthetic outcome. Again, the key is seek consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon or gynecologist who performs this procedure regularly (>2-3 x/month) so that just the right amount of tissue is removed and just the right amount remains such that the clitoris is not constantly exposed and rubbing on clothing, etc... Typical fee for a hoodectomy is ~$3000 but reduced to about half that price if done along with a labiaplasty.
Now for recovery, because the labia tissue is so robust with blood supply it has an amazing ability to heal relatively quickly. Most patients are sore for 4-5 days before things start to get a lot better from there. Some patients can resume work before this time depending upon their occupation. No exercise for two weeks, no baths/jacuzzi or swimming for 3 weeks, and no sexual activity for typically 4 weeks. My patients are given an oral pain medication such as Vicodin or Percocet but icing the area for the first 48 hours and applying some custom made take-home topical local anesthetic cream seems to work the best. Glad to help.
You are a candidate for a labiaplasty. There are several different techniques to doing labiaplasty. I would suggest you discuss this with several different cosmetic surgeons who do the different techniques so you could decide on the best course of action for you. I prefer the modified posterior wedge technique discussed on my website (click on the link below). Good luck
It's normal for the skin around the labia to be a little darker. There may be a little excess skin, and if so you would need a labiaplasty to excise that skin which should help improve the aesthetic and functional aspects. A PS in your area will be more than capable of doing this for you. Usually it's fairly quick and done as an outpatient