Labiaplasty is a cosmetic procedure that involves altering the appearance of the labia minora and/or majora. Cosmetic gynecological surgeons use several techniques to perform this procedure.
The wedge labiaplasty technique is a specific method of performing a labiaplasty in which a wedge or V-shaped portion of tissue is removed from the middle third of the labia minora. The edges from the upper and lower third are then apposed, resulting in a shorter and narrower-appearing labia minora that is more cosmetically appealing.
Who Can Opt for a Wedge Labiaplasty?
The wedge labiaplasty procedure is suitable for patients
- Who want to maintain the natural edging and shape of the labia minora
- Desirous of shorter scars and less scar sensitivity
- With adequate labia minora length for the procedure
Also, it is important to take into consideration the requisite skills and expertise needed for the procedure on the surgeon’s part.
The Wedge Labiaplasty Procedure
For a safe and successful outcome, adequate preoperative, intraoperative and postoperative measures must be ensured.
- The procedure starts with proper consultation and detailed clinical assessment to provide realistic expectations. The procedure and possible complications that could arise from the procedure are also discussed.
- The surgery ideally should be carried out after menstruation.
- Shaving of the perineum preoperatively is essential.
- Photographs of the labia minora showing any asymmetry or defects might be necessary.
- Preoperative antibiotics may be recommended.
The procedure can be performed under local, regional anesthesia or light sedation as a day procedure. The patient is positioned in a lithotomy position, and routine cleaning and draping are done. A marker is used to divide the labia minora is divided into 3 equal parts and mark out a wedge or V section in the middle third of the labia minora that will be removed.
The area or portion to be removed may be infiltrated with a local anesthetic mixed with adrenaline to help reduce bleeding. A scalpel, cold knife or laser may be used to excise and remove the wedge on the middle third of the labia minora. The upper and lower edges are brought together using absorbable 3-0 sutures. The exact process is repeated on the other labia minora. The edges are then brought together with extreme care to avoid undue tension, as this can lead to wound breakdown from postoperative swelling.
Post-surgery, the labiaplasty surgeon recommends:
- Avoiding prolonged standing as this encourages swelling of the surgery site
- Applying ice packs to the surgical site to help reduce swelling
- Elevation of the operation site
- Using a squirt bottle to help keep the perineum clean and dry
- Not inserting tampons for about 8 weeks following surgery
- Abstaining from sexual intercourse or exercise until 4 weeks after the procedure.
Advantages of the Wedge Labiaplasty Procedure
- When executed correctly, a wedge labiaplasty procedure helps preserve the critical nerves and arterial supply to the labia minora hence reducing the risk of decreased sensitivity or loss of sensation in the area.
- It does not alter the natural contour of the labia minora lips, giving it a natural-looking appearance.
- Once healed, the suture sites are undetectable.
- It allows for a smooth transition from the labia minora to the clitoral hood
- Reduced risk of complications like bleeding, hematoma and infection since minimal tissue is removed
- Faster recovery timeline.
Disadvantages of the Wedge Labiaplasty Technique
It leaves behind the hyperpigmented outer portion of the labia minora, thereby maintaining the normal appearance of the labia minora. Many women who want a labiaplasty want this part of the labia minora removed to give it a lighter and more appealing appearance.
It is essential to communicate and explain appropriately before the procedure to avoid unsatisfactory results that may require labiaplasty revision later on.
Risks/Complications Associated with Wedge Labiaplasty
As with any other type of surgery, the wedge technique for labiaplasty has its risks and complications. Although very rare, it includes the following:
- Hematoma formation resulting in pain, swelling and discomfort
- Scarring, although this is less likely with the wedge technique
- Temporary or permanent changes in sensation around the labia minora
- Risk of asymmetry in the labial appearance
- Poor wound healing, wound breakdown and separation may occur following a wedge labiaplasty
- Unsatisfactory cosmetic outcomes that may fall short of the patient’s expectation and may require a revision.
Recovery Timeline Following A Wedge Labiaplasty Procedure
The recovery timeline for all vaginal rejuvenation treatments varies depending on several factors, such as the rate of healing, the patient’s overall health status prior to the surgery, age and the extent of the procedure. The general timeline for recovery is as below:
- First Week: during this period, swelling, bruising, pain and discomfort are subsiding, and as such strenuous activities are to be avoided. Good hygiene and avoiding tampons or sexual intercourse are advised.
- Second to Fourth Week: after the first week, patients can return to work, although they may require sitting on donut pillows if prolonged sitting is required. By the end of this time, most of the swelling and pain have subsided, and patients can resume activities like cycling, sexual intercourse and the use of tampons.
- After Six Weeks: patients can go about their normal activities. It is expected that after this period, barring any complications, adequate healing should have occurred.
The Importance of Finding the Right Labiaplasty Surgeon
While any certified labiaplasty surgeon can perform the labiaplasty procedure, it is essential to get it done by someone highly experienced. Dr. Mona Hardas is a reputed labiaplasty surgeon with high experience and expertise performing different labiaplasty techniques, including the wedge technique.