Naturally, women, vaginas vary in size and shape, but some women are
dissatisfied or distressed about the appearance of their labia, even
when they are classified medically as perfectly normal. But women who have cosmetic surgery on their vagina are obsessed
with the latest beauty trend or having porn-star like genitalia.
But some women have surgery to reduce the size of their labia – the
inner ‘lips’ of the vagina – because they suffer problems ranging from
pain and tearing to extreme psychological distress. There are inner
labia – the labia minora – which are thinner, and the outer labia – the
labia majora, which have more tissue and fat.
NHS figures for 2010 show a five-fold rise since 2001 and one
London-based surgeon has seen an 80 per cent rise in labiaplasty
procedures between 2013 and 2014.
The surgery involves reducing the size of a woman’s labia minora to make
them more symmetrical and smaller than the labia majora. This is done
by cutting away the ‘excess’ skin with a scalpel, or possibly a laser,
and stitching up the loose edge with dissolvable stitches, until it
heals.Mr Miles Berry, a consultant plastic and aesthetic surgeon at the
Weymouth Street Hospital, London, chalks the rise in operations down to
an increase in awareness and availability of the procedure. While many
people believe these women are simply seeking a ‘designer vagina’, he
says most are having the procedure for functional reasons or because
they have been traumatised by having labia that are misshapen or
A labiaplasty is a surgical procedure to reduce the size of the labia
minora – the flaps of skin either side of the vaginal opening. Most
labiaplasty operations are done by private clinics as cosmetic surgery,
to change the appearance of the female genitals.
Occasionally, there may be a medical need for the operation (for
example, because the tissue is affected by disease), in which case it
might be covered by the NHS. However, the NHS doesn’t routinely provide
It’s natural and normal for a woman to have noticeable skin folds around
the vaginal opening and, in most cases, this shouldn’t cause any
problems. A labiaplasty involves shortening or reshaping the vaginal
lips, a bit like shortening a hem on a dress. It is usually performed by
a gynaecologist or plastic surgeon.
It can be carried out using either a general anaesthetic or local
anaesthetic with sedation, and the whole procedure takes about one to
two hours. However there is a lack of research investigating how
effective this procedure is. This means there’s no guarantee it will
achieve a long-lasting desired effect, and there are short- and
long-term risks to consider.
Some will never enter into a relationship for fear of a partner seeing
their genitalia, while others cannot undress in public or wear a bikini.