What effects does it have?
- Lower body
Creates a vulva
What is it?
Surgical creation of a vulva and labia (external female genitals).
It's also known as Cosmetic vulvoplasty.
How long does it last?
The effects are permanent and cannot be reversed.
Labiaplasty involves surgically constructing labia, normally out of tissue taken from the penis and/or scrotum. The penis and scrotum are completely destroyed in the process.
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 1.
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. However, as with other major life changes, you may find that counselling before and after surgery may be helpful.
Preparing for a surgical procedure
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.
Cost and funding
A operation in the UK to perform labiaplasty and clitoroplasty costs around £11-12000.
If you have a formal diagnosis, the NHS will usually provide funding for labiaplasty and penectomy, orchidectomy, clitoroplasty and/or vaginoplasty. 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 3.
- 1 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.
- 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.
- 3 Royal College of Psychiatrists (2013) “Good practice guidelines for the assessment and treatment of adults with gender dysphoria.” [online] Available from: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/docs/default-source/improving-care/better-mh-policy/college-reports/college-report-cr181.pdf
Errors and omissions
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Page last updated: April 2019