Risks and limits of surgery
Is it painful?
Labiaplasty is uncomfortable in the first few days, but there are things that you can do to minimise this:
- Shower the area daily and apply the supplied ointment to your labia to stop the wound from becoming too dry.
- Ensure that you minimise swelling by not doing too much and avoiding vigorous exercise or anything that rubs on the area.
- Take the prescription painkillers that I will provide for you.
When can I resume sexual intercourse?
You can resume intercourse when your wounds are healed, your labia not swollen and it feels right for you. Typically this is around 4 weeks after surgery.
Will I swell and bruise?
Bruising can occur and if it occurs is expected to settle in the usual time for all bruises, 7-10 days. Swelling occurs in all patients and may not reach a peak until you are at home (around 48 hours after surgery), so you will need to expect that your labia will seem larger during this time. Usually it lasts for 7-10 days. Ensuring that you do not overdo it and not spending too long on your feet at a time will help to settle it as quickly as possible.
What are the risks?
Like any operation labiaplasty carries some risks including bleeding, infection, and sensitivity.. These will be discussed with you in detail at your consultation with me.
A labiaplasty is an operation to reduce or tidy the inner lips of the vagina, known as the labia minora. Labia vary widely in size and shape and women may choose to have this procedure for a number of reasons.
The commonest reason that I encounter in my clinic is that my patient is simply unhappy with the cosmetic appearance of the labia and may have been self conscious about this from a young age. Sometimes this is because of asymmetry, sometimes it is the result of stretching or elongation that may occur with childbirth or the natural ageing process.
In other patients there may be discomfort with tight clothes or during intercourse and in others irregularities of the labia may divert the urine stream.
Whatever the cause, problems with the labia can cause affected women considerable distress and can affect their lifestyle and confidence in relationships.
I understand that this is an embarrassing request to make to your surgeon, but do not feel alone – many women have treatment for their labia and labiaplasty is a relatively common procedure. You will be treated with sensitivity, discretion and confidentiality.
Labiaplasty can be carried out alone or in combination with other procedures such as lifting or shaping the pubic mound or treatment to the outer vaginal lips (labia majora).
There are different labiaplasty surgical techniques. With simple labial excision, the excess tissue is removed leaving a neat or contoured edge. Alternatives are removal of a wedge of tissue and modifications of this. The technique that I use is tailored to your individual needs and I will go through this with you at your initial assessment.
Typically labiaplasty takes between 40 and 60 minutes and can be carried out under local anaesthesia. If you prefer or are embarrassed you can be put to sleep for your surgery.
Normally the surgery is carried out as a daycase and at the end of the operation I ask you to stay for an hour or two to check all is well before you are discharged.
Once we have established a surgical plan for you, I will go through all aspects of the procedure itself, recovery time for healing, return to work, childcare and exercise. I will also go through potential complications and risks specific to you if you have any medical conditions.
If you decide to go ahead with surgery we will arrange a date for this and you will receive confirmation by letter, with detailed instructions about what you should and should not do before surgery.
On the day of surgery I will meet you on the ward and go through the surgical plan with you again. If you are being put to sleep my anaesthetist will also see you and to ensure that your anaesthetic is smooth and discomfort minimised.
At the end of the operation some ointment is applied to the labia and you will be supplied this to use at home. There are no dressings, rather a pad is used and you can change this as required. You stitches are dissolving.
It is helpful to bring non-tight underwear and jogpants to wear after your operation.
Each patient will have a recovery plan tailored to their situation, but as a general guide:
- You will be able to go home on the day of surgery.
- You should be able to carry out light work after 1 -2 weeks
- You may drive short distances after 1 week
- I recommend that you restrict exercise to walking in the first 3-4 weeks. Thereafter you may carry out general light exercises and gradually build up to vigorous exercise over the next 3-4 weeks.