Labiaplasty is a type of surgery performed on the vulva, focusing on the labia majora (outer labia) and labia minora (inner labia), the folds of skin surrounding the vulva and vaginal passage. A labiaplasty is often done to remove what is considered to be excess skin on the lips of the vulva. There are a number of reasons a person may want this kind of plastic surgery, but like most surgeries, labiaplasty cost and whether insurance will come into play is always a consideration.
The Labiaplasty Procedure
A labiaplasty is performed under local or general anesthesia, depending on the surgeon's preference. The surgery involves swelling the tissues of the labia and vulva, then clamping and removing the desired folds from the labia itself. There are a number of methods a doctor can use, and the actual operation will depend on each individual case and the severity of the excess skin.
Labiaplasty is normally a quick operation, and most patients will be able to leave the hospital on the same day; recovery involves cleansing and an antibacterial ointment, and while it's recommended to take a week off of work, healing is unlikely to require more than a few days.
Labiaplasty Medical Reasons
According to News-Medical.net, there seem to be two central concerns among individuals who look into labiaplasty: cosmetics and comfort. Some individuals may be self-conscious about their vulva, especially if they feel it doesn't appear to be "normal;" this can interfere with emotional self-image and a person's sex life. However, the doctors at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons explain that most labiaplasty procedures are performed to combat issues of physical discomfort.
For example, individuals with longer labia can experience pain during physical exercise like riding a bike or playing sports in tight-fitting undergarments. Elongated labia can also cause pain during sexual activity, including intercourse, and can in some cases lead to chronic urinary tract infections and irritation of the vulva.
Labiaplasty is a fairly straight-forward surgery, but the removal of labial tissue can cause damage and deaden the nerves in the area, so it's best to be aware of potential complications.
Does Insurance Cover a Labiaplasty?
The answer to this will depend on your insurance coverage and your situation. Most insurance companies will not initially move to cover a labiaplasty, especially if the reasons for the surgery are more cosmetic than medically necessary, explains the team at Restored Plastic Surgery. This is because most insurance companies won't cover elective procedures (like most plastic surgery or even laser eye surgery) that are being performed because an individual wants that surgery, rather than as the result of a medical need. Your first step is to determine why you want this surgery and work with your doctor towards achieving your goals.
If you and your doctor can show labiaplasty medical reasons, you have a chance of convincing your insurance provider to cover a portion of the surgery. You'll need to submit a letter from your doctor detailing the reasons they believe you need to have labia plastic surgery, and why they deem this procedure medically necessary. You may want to document opinions from multiple doctors, not just a plastic surgeon, in cases where physical discomfort, mental health or other health reasons are the initiating factors. Proving you have an ongoing medical issue that labiaplasty would alleviate is key in getting the insurance company to accept your application for coverage.
If your insurance company rejects your application, you can appeal your decision and have your doctor resubmit their application for insurance coverage. You'll want to open a case with your insurance company and discuss with an agent assigned to your case to see what further information is needed.