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  • Your labia
  • Thinking about cosmetic surgery?

Thinking about cosmetic surgery?

Female genital cosmetic surgery refers to any surgical procedure that aims to change the look or function of the vulva or vagina. The most common form of this surgery is labiaplasty, which is a procedure to alter the labia.

People may seek this surgery for different reasons. But, most commonly, it is because they are unhappy with the way their labia look. There are a lot of social and cultural pressures that can make people very anxious about the appearance of their labia. 

If you are feeling this way, it may be useful to think about what’s influencing how you see your labia – is it a relationship, cultural norms, or something else? Addressing where these pressures are coming from can help you deal with how they impact you. This SHIPS Psychology article is a useful resource to support this.

Things to consider

If you are thinking about having cosmetic or plastic surgery, particularly labiaplasty, here are a few things to consider:

About your labia
  • There is not one ‘standard’ or ‘normal’ version of labia. There is incredible diversity in the way vulva and labia look. Everyone is unique

  • Most people’s labia are not ‘neat’ or ‘tidy’ and they don’t need to be. Labia are there to protect your vagina and provide you sensation during sex.


  • Labioplasty does not improve hygiene or lead to a reduced incidence of thrush. To look after your hygiene, it’s important to wash your vulva daily with warm water or mild soap, but you should never scrub or use a douche or antibacterial wash.
About female genital cosmetic surgery
  • Professional bodies such as the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists advise that there is not enough evidence to show that cosmetic vaginal procedures are safe or that they are effective at improving body image, sexual satisfaction or self-esteem.

  • Risks of labiaplasty include things like scarring, numbness, pain, permanent disfigurement and discolouration of the labia. The procedure can also affect sensation during sex. The labia minora have an important sensory role in sexual arousal and it’s not clear how this is affected by cosmetic surgery.

  • If you’re doing research on the internet, don’t believe everything you see. Sometimes content creators airbrush or digitally retouch pictures of labia. As a result, what you see may not be attainable through surgery, even after repeat procedures. If you want to view real, unmodified images of labia, check out our Labia gallery.


  • Plastic and cosmetic surgeons spend a lot of money on advertising to make people feel insecure about their bodies and they get paid a lot to ‘fix’ issues with surgery. If you do have concerns about your labia, talk to a doctor who specialises in women’s health or a gynaecologist. They see vulvas every day and they don’t have a financial interest in suggesting that you have surgery.

  • There is no guarantee that you will be satisfied with the results of labiaplasty or other genital cosmetic surgeries. There are many ways of performing these surgeries and the outcomes will largely depend on who your surgeon is. Your idea of an ideal labia may also be different to that of your surgeon, so it’s important to talk with them about exactly what it is you’re looking for.   

For more information, check out the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency Cosmetic Surgery Hub and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Resource for general practitioners and other health professionals on female genital cosmetic surgery.

View our Labia gallery

Unedited photographs of labia and vulvas to show just how different they can be. 

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