What is labiaplasty?
Surgical creation of a vulva and labia (external female genitals).
It's also known as Cosmetic vulvoplasty.
What does labiaplasty do?
- Lower body
Creates a vulva
Who can have labiaplasty?
You must have had 12 continuous months living as your gender identity
You must have had 12 continuous months of HRT, unless you’re unable to
You must have capacity to consent for this treatment
If you have significant medical conditions, these need to be “reasonably well-controlled”
Under 18s cannot have this but can be referred at 17
You typically need a BMI of less than 30
How long does labiaplasty last?
The effects are permanent and cannot be reversed.
What should I be aware of?
The penis and scrotum are completely destroyed in the process of labiaplasty, as the labia are normally surgically constructed out of tissue that has been taken from the penis and/or scrotum.
How do I get labiaplasty?
In order to be eligible for labiaplasty, you will normally need to meet the following conditions:
- persistent and well-documented gender dysphoria
- capacity to make fully informed decisions and to consent to treatment
- if significant medical or mental health concerns are present, they must be reasonably well controlled
- two medical opinions, usually at least one from a gender clinic, that surgery is appropriate
- 12 months’ continuous endocrine treatment as appropriate to the patient’s goals (unless the patient has medical contraindications or is otherwise unable to take hormones)
- at least 12 months’ living continuously in a gender role that is congruent with the gender identity 1.
NGICNS maintains a list of NHS surgery providers providing various gender-related surgeries. At the moment, all of these surgeons are based in England, so you will have to travel if you live in another part of the UK. If you have decided to pay for your own surgery, rather than using NHS funding, there are additional options available to you. For more information about these private surgery options read our private surgery page.
Labiaplasty is a major surgery and has a significant recovery time. You should expect to spend around 10 weeks time recovering before you are ready to resume work or study. When you are discharged from hospital, your surgeon should provide you with a sick note to give to your employer.
For some people, labiaplasty can provide a significant improvement in mental health. There is overall agreement in medical studies that after gender confirming medical interventions, rates of psychiatric disorders and psychiatric symptoms reduce considerably 2, p.181. However, as with other major life changes, you may find that counselling before and after surgery may be helpful.
Where can I learn more?
You can read more about vaginoplasty surgeries in these booklets from the NHS Gender Dysphoria National Referral Support Service:
You can also read more about vaginoplasty in these booklets from Parkside Hospital who are a UK provider of vaginoplasty surgeries:
How do I get ready for surgery?
Doing some preparation in advance can help make sure everything goes smoothly during your hospital stay and recovery. To help you avoid forgetting to do or buy something we have created a Getting ready for gender surgeries page.
How much will it cost?
A operation in the UK to perform labiaplasty and clitoroplasty costs around £15000.
If you have a formal diagnosis, the NHS will usually provide funding for labiaplasty and penectomy, orchidectomy, clitoroplasty and/or vaginoplasty.
If you're receiving certain benefits, or are on a low income, you may be able to get help with the cost of travel for NHS treatment. Further information about help with travel costs can be found:
- on the NHS website
- on the Welsh Government website
- on the NHS Scotland website
- on the Northern Ireland government website
What else might I want?
Normally clitoroplasty (surgical creation of a clitoris) is carried out as part of labiaplasty. Some people also undergo vaginoplasty (surgical creation of a vagina), while other people opt to avoid vaginoplasty because they do not want a vagina or to reduce the risk of complications, reduce recovery time, or avoid the need to dilate 3, p.268.
- 1.Royal College of Psychiatrists (2013) “Good practice guidelines for the assessment and treatment of adults with gender dysphoria.” Link
- 2.Arcelus, Jon and De Cuypere, Griet (2017) “Mental Health Problems in the Transgender Population: What Is The Evidence?,” in Bouman, W. P. and Arcelus, J. (eds.), The Transgender Handbook: A Guide for Transgender People, Their Families and Professionals, Nova Science Publishers Inc, pp. 173–188. Link
- 3.Selvaggi, Gennaro and Andreasson, My (2017) “Genital Reconstructive Surgery for Transgender Women,” in Bouman, W. P. and Arcelus, J. (eds.), The Transgender Handbook: A Guide for Transgender People, Their Families and Professionals, Nova Science Publishers Inc, pp. 265–275. Link
This page is illustrated using a photograph by Павел Сорокин available at Pexels.
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