Dr. Alexis Parcells is a board-certified, celebrity plastic surgeon and founder of SUNNIE Skincare.
She first came to Poosh to see if we had any interest in writing an article about labiaplasty, which you all know piqued our interest. But before speaking with Dr. Parcells, none of us Pooshies really understood what labiaplasty is and why so many women are doing it.
To address the elephant in the room, labiaplasty is basically what it sounds like—an elective surgery that treats the external appearance and also the function of a woman’s labia (aka the skin of the vulva surrounding the vagina).
For example, some women notice excess skin has developed along their labia minora (inner lips of the vagina) and hangs beyond the labia majora (outer lips of the vagina). For some, this is something that has always made them self-conscious (even though all vulvas are perfectly normal and beautiful as is). And for others, this is a change that occurred and resulted in them feeling less like themselves.
Dr. Parcells performs hundreds of these procedures in her office each year, mostly seeing patients in the 18 to 45 range. She sees the rising demand as a result of multiple factors, but she wants women to understand that this specific insecurity is a common concern with a straightforward solution.
Just think about all the things that can impact the shape, growth, or contour of our life-giving centers of the universe.
Is it the rise in tight-fitting athleisure wear for indoor cycling? Most of us are familiar with chafing.
What about those super tight 501’s that make our ass look incredible? Hello, constriction lines and swelling.
Perhaps oral contraceptives have warped the growth and development of the vulva, so we experience extreme self-consciousness or even pain during sex…that’s a hard stop.
This is when, we, ehem I, decided to take matters into my own hands—well—firsthand. I’m going to remain anonymous as I tell this story.
First of all, this is not an episode of Nip/Tuck in a bright, fluorescent-lit room with eight people scrutinizing your crotch. This is an in-office procedure using local anesthesia. Patients are awake—there is more privacy because of that, and it’s basically a 30-minute procedure from start to finish.
Dr. Parcells started by shipping me a heavy-duty numbing cream that I applied 60 minutes before driving (I had someone drive me) to meet her on the day of the procedure. By the time I arrived and she began injecting the stronger numbing medicine, I didn’t feel a thing—not even one prick (lol).
We chatted throughout the entire procedure, which I really appreciated. She is so sweet and comforting. When finished, she injected me with a long-lasting numbing agent, placed me in
compression underwear with a giant maxi pad, and I was waddling on my way.
I know what you’re thinking, but believe me when I say that healing wasn’t horrible. Recovering from a surgery is never all kittens and rainbows, but I had virtually zero pain—just some discomfort with dryness. I took Tylenol for a day or two, and I bled for the first two days. I took it easy for an entire month and spent the first week laying on my sofa and icing my vagina, as one does.
Regardless of how long I let my body rest though, I still got both a yeast infection and a bacterial infection during my first couple of weeks of recovery…both not uncommon, and yet, both incredibly annoying. At the end of the day, they are both easy to treat, and I regret nothing.
I put together a few major tips that I think are absolute key to know before deciding if this procedure is right for you:
– Do your homework! Make sure your plastic surgeon is board-certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Ask to speak to a recent patient of the practice who has had this procedure done. Women will usually talk on a first-name basis to preserve HIPAA compliance.
– There is no sex for 4 to 6 weeks. I don’t know about you, but that’s a long time for me. I’m in Week 4, and I have my next consult in two days. I’m hoping and feeling like I’m going to be good to go ASAP (fingers crossed).
– I got my period during week two of my recovery, and it was too soon for me to use tampons. Using pads for me was quite the experience. I would HIGHLY recommend scheduling this procedure on Day 3 of your period, because you will be in pads and bleeding for the first two days anyway. By the time you have your next period, you will most likely be ready for tampon use. That being said, Dr. Parcells assures me that the surgery is safe to perform at any time during your cycle, even when you are on your period.
– I’m not a big elective surgery person, so I just assumed I’d snap back and be out and about after one week…this was NOT the case. This procedure should be taken seriously and please know that the more you rest, the quicker you will heal. But like any surgery, anticipate a mellow and slightly altered life for one month at least.
Dr. Parcells warned me not to look “down there” for a couple weeks at the end of my procedure. Obviously, I lasted a day before I needed to thoroughly inspect. While this was what Netflix might categorize as the Body Horror genre, just know whatever you may encounter down there (there’s really not a name for it) is all normal, and nothing is going to look quite right for at least three weeks.
I’ve been very open about this surgery with friends and family. In fact, I’ve pretty much told everyone that I’m close with…and then some. A major takeaway for me is that “wow,” most women I’ve discussed this procedure with have thought about or are already interested in labiaplasty themselves.
I found it so interesting that so many of my friends had thought about this but never discussed it openly with anyone before. From 2015-2019, there has been a 73% increase in this procedure.
Why the stigma?
My GREATEST share for all of you is how happy I am with my decision. This wasn’t a huge insecurity of mine, but when it came across the table, I was curious and excited to self-improve in any way that I could. The recovery hasn’t been easy, but it also hasn’t been hard. I am SO happy with my results, and I am beyond excited and thrilled that I made this choice.