Labiaplasty surgery is a potentially life-changing procedure that can transform the appearance of the vagina. Whether it’s for purely cosmetic reasons, to address discomfort, or improve self-image, the procedure can greatly impact your self-confidence and overall sexual health.
Even though results are seen immediately after the labiaplasty surgery, full healing and final result take time. Like any other surgical procedure, women will require some downtime to recover after a labiaplasty. The recovery process will vary from woman to woman. However, most will follow a basic timeline after surgery. Knowing what to expect can prepare you for the challenges to come, ensuring a smooth and safe recovery process.
Recovery During the First Week
Directly after a labiaplasty surgery, swelling is common. The labia minora and labia majora are very vascular and increased blood flow and a rush of repair cells to the surgical area occurs after the repair. This is the natural body’s healing process and this flow of blood to the area of surgery results in swelling.
This response is completely normal. Surgeons may recommend using a cold compress for up to 15 minutes at a time. Not only does this help to reduce swelling, but it can alleviate any pain or discomfort. Limit the compress to no longer than 15-minute intervals, as prolonged use could lead to skin irritation.
The swelling will continue throughout the first week of recovery. It may increase in the days following the labiaplasty surgery, but it will eventually subside as the incisions heal.
Surgeons often prescribe medications and topical ointments. Medications might include supplements to alleviate swelling and bruising. Pain medications, numbing agents, and antibiotic ointments might come into play as well. Use these products as directed, paying close attention to the condition of the surgical site.
Significant discharge of fluid after the surgery is also very common. The discharge usually has a yellowish consistency and is often tinged with blood. This is also a normal reaction of our body and is part of the healing process and later on, in the healing process, it occurs as the sutures dissolve.
It’s important to wear loose-fitting underwear and take things easy during the first week. Excessive friction can irritate the wounds and slow down recovery. Washing with water and then dabbing dry is sufficient in the first week after the surgery. Follow your surgeon’s cleaning instructions for the best results.
Dr. Tahery uses sutures in his repairs of the labia that are very thin and delicate and they create minimal scarring. It is important to avoid manipulation and excessive pressure on the suture line.
When urinating, it’s normal to feel slight stinging. Typically, surgeons recommend spraying clean water onto the incision to dilute the urine and lessen the stinging. Urine is usually acidic and may irritate the incision. Drinking more water helps dilute the urine and helps with any discomfort.
Labiaplasty Recovery in the 2nd and 3rd Week
At this point, the healing process is well on its way. While things will be easier moving forward, there is still lots of repair that is going to happen.
At this point, most women can return to work and continue doing many activities. Swelling may still occur, but it is likely less noticeable than the days following the labiaplasty surgery. Women should still take their prescribed anti-inflammation and bruising medicines to promote continued healing.
In terms of pain, slight tenderness may occur with pressure. However, it should be manageable and not require much pain medication. Some slight itchiness and mild discomfort are common as well as the process of healing is occurring. But again, both issues are manageable and easy to address with proper care and hygiene.
By the third week, the incisions start healing. Absorbable stitches will start disappearing as the vagina slowly improves.
4th to 6th Week Recovery
These are the final weeks of recovery. Chances are, you’ve met with your surgeon a couple of times since the labiaplasty surgery. They should be able to monitor your recovery and make recommendations based on your needs.
By the 4-week mark, things are almost back to normal. It’s the final stretch of healing. The incisions aren’t quite 100 percent just yet, so avoiding strenuous activity is paramount. Steer clear of tampon use and sexual activity until after the full six weeks pass, and you get the all-clear from your surgeon.
These final weeks will see the vagina’s swelling die down. The outcome becomes more apparent as the incisions heal and the lips start to look normal again.
If any extreme pain, significant discharge, or foul odors occur at any point during the recovery process, make sure to contact your doctor for assistance.
Recovering from labiaplasty surgery is a relatively straightforward process. While bacterial infections and complications are possible, usually very unlikely and most women heal without any problems. The key is following your doctor’s recovery plan and monitoring the process. If any issues occur, notify your doctor as soon as possible.
To learn more about labiaplasty surgery and the recovery process, contact Dr. Tahery’s office to schedule your consultation. Dr. Michael Tahery is a urogynecologist with over two decades of experience performing vaginal reconstruction and cosmetics procedures.