LABIAPLASTY with Mr Paul Banwell - Sussex, UK

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Over the last few years, I noticed that things...

Over the last few years, I noticed that things were not as they had been down there. Nothing abnormal, just no longer so neat, a bit asymmetric, a bit tired looking and too 'visible'. Also, I work out regularly, and I was noticing some discomfort after long runs or aerobics classes. I'm in my 40s, married for 18 years and never had children (due to choice). I run my own company and would consider myself a feminist. One's sexual identity is such a fragile thing, and as much as I tried to resolve my thoughts about things, I just couldn't. I decided to find out about Labiaplasty. It may be true that more social awareness about how women's genitals are 'supposed' to look and how they do look, take us into tricky territory as far as gender politics go, and if we lived in an egalitarian world perhaps these things wouldn't matter. The sad fact is that they do. The procedure is available and having previously had the most wonderful result with a rhinoplasty, I decided to investigate this procedure to see if it could alleviate my anxiety about this issue also. But that does not mean I believe anyone who has 'different' genitals to what is the proscribed aesthetic ideal should consider it. It's just that it was bothering me so much that I just thought I'd 'get rid' of the 'problem'.

I saw a couple of surgeons before settling on Mr Paul Banwell. Mr Banwell was friendly, cautious, respectful and it was clear that he had a great deal of expertise in his field. He listened very carefully to my issue with things, and was confident that he could 'neaten things up'. He said he tended to 'under correct' as he didn't believe in over doing things. But we were both realistic about what what could be achieved, and confident that I would end up with a result that would ameliorate my stress about the area. It was incredibly embarrassing for me to talk about it. But I was as comfortable talking about it with Mr Banwell as I could hope to be talking about it to anyone. It is probably the time to say here that I had told absolutely no-one else about my issue, not my husband who remained completely unaware that I had any issue, or any of my very close girlfriends with whom I would discuss anything at all apart from this. It was just a very private and personal thing and I kept it utterly to myself.

I had the procedure on December 14th 2013 at the McIndoe Surgical Centre in Sussex - Mr Banwell consults in Harley St, but this is where he operates. It was a fantastic hospital and the staff were kind and so efficient. I have to say I thought they might be contemptuous of someone in for such a 'silly' procedure, but they were nothing but respectful and looked after me wonderfully. As did all of Mr Banwell's support team at Harley St, and his Sussex office.

So the procedure and the result... I came around from the anaesthetic with a little discomfort, but no real pain. And when I was allowed to go home - they allowed me to go home the same day, although Mr Banwell who errs on the side of cautiousness, usually likes his patients to stay overnight, as there are small risks with bleeding in the first 24 hours as the stitches he uses are very, very small.

I had minor discomfort - I took only 1 dihyrocodeine tablet post-operatively and then I just didn't need any pain killers. I did take it very easy for 3-4 days staying in bed, and this will probably make most people laugh, my husband just assumed this was a 'gynae' thing and still has no idea I had the procedure done, and neither do any of my friends! It is still my secret! I walked up the road to get some shopping on day 5. There was some itching as the stitches started to 'rub out', and some spotting but all this was alleviated with a spot of anaesthetic Germolene cream. I wore nothing more robust than slim sanitary pads. By day 8 I could wear jeans again without much discomfort and could return to relatively normal activities, although I didn't work out until about 3 weeks afterwards, and then I was cautious. It is near the end of February now and everything feels nearly normal - the scars are invisible but still feel a little 'hard' but this gets less all the time.

So how does it look? Well I don't want you to think I spent hours gazing at things before. I was just aware that things were not as they were and when I looked, I felt a bit disgusted and dismayed, none of which made me feel very sexually attractive any more! After the procedure, I didn't check how things were until a few days because I didn't want to freak myself out. When I did, although I was a bit swollen, the difference was immediately clear. At that point I was happy, it was all neat and symmetrical and nothing 'showed' in the untidy way it had before. In short, it was for me, quite 'perfect' now, and more resembled how it had been when I was younger, and for the majority of my life as a adult woman. It has only got better as things have healed. I am absolutely delighted with the result. I no longer have this thing which sat in small part of my mind and disgusted me about myself. Maybe it was representative of something more psychological and significant than a mere flap of skin. All I know is that now is has been 'corrected', (and I use that word carefully not meaning I was in any abnormal before, because I was totally within the margins of 'normality'), I no longer am disgusted with this thing, and in fact am quite happy if I think about it all. For me it was more like getting rid of a large blemish like a mole, or a spot - it might not bother some people, but it did me. And if that makes me shallow in some respects, well then so be it... but the only other procedure I've had was rhinoplasty and I was similarly delighted with the results of that. I no longer have any issues with my self that I would seek surgery to correct. And I did not undertake either of these 2 procedures lightly.

It has improved my confidence, even thought no one knows and my husband, bless, has not even noticed. But I know, and I feel nothing but huge relief that such a ridiculous thing that distressed me so much has been dealt with.

Any advice I would give is this: Think long and hard about whether you really need this done - if you can't deal with the issue in your head alone, then having the procedure done can certainly help, but only if this is not about any other underlying issue like body dismorphophobia or self hatred, or God help us all if a women should think about doing this to 'please' a man or men in general!

If you decide that you want to go ahead, be very careful who you discuss it with - as a gender politics topic it is a hot potato and do you really want to be known among the people you know as 'the woman who had her flaps done' as one unkind woman I know referred to another poor woman as who was unwise enough to share this with her friends - and these are women in their 30s and 40s not teenagers!

And then take care choosing the very best surgeon in this field. If someone tells you this is a 'simple' procedure, it isn't, it just isn't, you need a skilled surgeon, who is aesthetically gifted, and who is professional and respectful.

Finally, do not be attempted to make the choice according to cost - a surgeon who is cheap, is just that and will give a poor result - this is your body and even if it stretches your finance, it is worth buying the very best you can.

I've never had a moment's regret about either of my 2 procedures, and as I said do not want any more cosmetic surgery, and the 2 things I was distressed about are simply gone. I do also think this is because I was realistic in my expectations, and didn't have any ludicrous notion of the 'perfect' look, I just wanted to be a better me. It has boosted my confidence, but it hasn't changed my life - as I don't believe cosmetic surgery can do that unless one is 'deformed' from an accident or from a birth defect and then it is a different thing entirely. So if you do this, don't rush into it. Think long and hard about it. Choose the very best surgeon and do your research, and should you go ahead with the procedure really look after yourself before and after surgery...
London Plastic Surgeon

See the review above - Mr Paul Banwell is a gifted cosmetic surgeon, especially knowledgeable in this area. His is kind, cautious and respectful, but a very pleasant man. He put me at ease and I felt comfortable talking about this embarrassing subject with him.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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