Are you planning to have labiaplasty surgery, or do you know someone who is, and you’re curious about Labiaplasty recovery timeline?
In this article, we will look at labiaplasty surgery and tell you all you need to know about it.
What Is Labiaplasty?
A labiaplasty is a surgical procedure that modifies the size and/or shape of the labia or the lips of the vulva for cosmetic or functional reasons. This is a type of vaginal rejuvenation surgery that is usually done for cosmetic reasons rather than for medical reasons.
This procedure may also be included in gender-affirming surgery, which consists of a number of procedures performed to align a person’s physical gender with their gender identity.
When a person reaches puberty, hair grows naturally on the outer skin folds called labia majora. The labia minora are smaller, hairless folds of skin that sit directly beneath the labia majora. Both are visible without the need for an invasive medical exam.
A labiaplasty can involve the reduction or expansion of any part of these folds by:
- Removing a portion of the labia
- Reconstruction of a section of the labia
- Injecting a material into the labia to temporarily fill it out
Excess tissue can be removed using surgical cutting tools or radiofrequency, which uses heat energy.
Clitoral hood reduction is frequently performed concurrently with labiaplasty.
Labia are created from existing genital tissue as part of a comprehensive gender-affirming process. Other surgeries, as well as hormone therapies, may be performed before or after labiaplasty.
A plastic surgeon will perform this procedure under local anesthesia with or without monitored anesthesia sedation while you are awake.
While general anesthesia is rarely used, it may be used if you are having a labiaplasty as part of a more complex procedure such as vaginoplasty, the creation of a vagina and/or orchiectomy, which is the removal of testicles.
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Precautions Before Having a Labiaplasty
If you have got a vaginal or bladder infection, you must postpone the surgery until the infection clears.
Previous vaginal surgery or surgery near the labia may result in scar tissue, making you more vulnerable to complications from a labiaplasty.
If you have such scarring, you and your doctor will need to discuss the risks and benefits of the surgery to see if it is right for you.
Some factors may impede healing or change the potential benefits of this surgery, and the procedure might not be recommended for you if you are not prepared for/willing to accept these circumstances.
Smoking can lead to complications like delayed wound healing and should be avoided four weeks before surgery.
You must be prepared to refrain from strenuous exercise and sexual activity for four to six weeks following surgery.
If you were to become pregnant and give birth vaginally after a labiaplasty, your labia may change appearance, affecting the surgery’s results.
- The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, ACOG, states that labiaplasty in patients under the age of 18 is illegal under federal law unless a physician believes the surgery is “necessary to the patient’s health”.
- In some states, labiaplasty is illegal in certain circumstances (minors and adults)
Risks of a Labiaplasty
Complications associated with surgery and anesthesia are possible with this procedure. Furthermore, labiaplasty can result in specific problems that arise after the procedure.
Among the risks are:
When urinating or having a bowel movement, you may experience pain.
Pain from sex
A result that differs from what you expected
Complications can sometimes be managed with medical or surgical treatment, but these issues can cause long-term distress.
Reasons for Labiaplasty
Labiaplasty is typically regarded as a type of genital cosmetic surgery performed at the patient’s request rather than as a medical treatment.
People seek labiaplasty for a variety of reasons. They may include the following:
Vagina Symmetry: If you want to reshape the uneven sides of your labia, you should consider this surgery. Experts, on the other hand, consider labial asymmetry to be normal and do not recommend surgical correction unless the variation has a negative impact.
Protrusion: The labia minora might not be larger than the labia majora or may protrude from the larger lips for a variety of reasons.
Atrophy of the labia majora, which can occur as a result of menopause or other hormonal changes, and labia minora hypertrophy which is a rare condition in which the labia minora is unusually large, are two causes of such protrusion.
Other cosmetic concerns: Some people may want to change the way their labia appear under clothes, such as swimsuits or tight pants, or when they are naked.
Concerns around the appearance of the labia: This can arise at any time in a person’s life, either as a result of the natural development of the labia or as a result of physical changes, such as childbirth.
Irritation, tenderness, or bleeding of the labia minora during sex or athletic activity is common in adults and adolescents if the labia minora extends beyond the labia major.
This is possible because the labia minora is made up of thin tissue that is normally shielded by the labia major.
How to Prepare for Labiaplasty
Preparing for labiaplasty entails both practical and thoughtful considerations that are more complex and nuanced than many other types of surgeries.
This is a major and permanent procedure, and ACOG recommends that patients “be informed about the lack of high-quality data that supports the effectiveness of genital cosmetic surgical procedures and counseled about their potential complications.”
To that end, your healthcare provider may discuss with you not only the physical risks of labiaplasty but also the psychological implications of the procedure as you consider whether to proceed.
You may be asked to speak with a pre-surgical educator/counselor as well.
Screening tests for depression or anxiety might be performed to assist you and your healthcare provider in determining the reason for your interest in this surgery and whether you need more time to think about it.
Before undergoing this surgery, those with diagnosed psychological issues should be referred to a mental health specialist, according to ACOG.
It might be unsettling to learn that this is a normal part of the process. However, the goal is to ensure that you go into your surgery with a clear understanding of the potential outcomes and risks.
Remember that if you are unsure about what your medical team is recommending, you can and should seek a second opinion.
Prior to your labiaplasty, your healthcare provider is going to ask you what you hope to achieve from the procedure so that the surgical plan can be tailored accordingly.
They will examine you in order to prepare for the specifics of your procedure. A standard pelvic examination will also be performed to identify any infections that may require treatment prior to surgery.
Your healthcare provider will explain where the planned incision will be made, what you should expect in terms of the size plus shape of the labia, plus what type of scar you can expect after your surgery.
Pre-operative testing may also include a complete blood count (CBC), blood chemistry tests, a urinalysis, and a chest X-ray.
Cost of a Labiaplasty
A labiaplasty typically costs around $3,000 and may not be covered by health insurance.
When it is usually for gender affirmation, you will most likely need to meet certain requirements in order for all or part of the surgery to be covered. Contact your insurance company.
What to Expect on the Day of Labiaplasty Surgery
Now when you arrive for your appointment, you’ll be required to sign a consent form and register.
You will also be taken to a preoperative area and asked to change into a surgical gown. Same-day tests, such as a CBC, blood chemistry panel, and urinalysis, may be performed.
An intravenous (IV, in a vein) line will be inserted into your arm or hand, and your temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and breathing rate will be recorded.
A noninvasive pulse oximeter will be placed on your finger and will remain in place during your surgery to check your oxygen saturation.
A urinary catheter could be placed in your urethra either in the preoperative area or in the operating room.
Your skin will be prepped for the procedure, and you will be put under anesthesia.
A drape will be draped over your body, exposing the skin of your labia. A cleaning solution will be used to clean the surgical area and the surrounding area. Your pubic area will be shaved if necessary at this time.
If you are having monitored anesthesia sedation, sedative medication may be injected into your IV to make you drowsy and reduce pain.
It is worth noting that if you are having local anesthesia during your procedure, pain medication will be injected directly near the incision site after your skin has been sterilized.
If you are having the surgery along with IV sedation, your local anesthetic will be injected after the IV sedation begins to work.
If you have general anesthesia, an anesthetic medication will be injected into your IV to knock you out and a breathing tube will then be inserted into your throat to provide mechanical breathing assistance during surgery.
Your surgeon will begin by identifying the tissue that will be reshaped and/or resized.
The following steps may be taken next:
- A little piece of tissue from the edge of one or both labia minora will be removed
- A piece of tissue from the inner region of the labia minora will be taken.
- In order to enlarge the labia majora, hyaluronic acid is injected into it.
- A needle will be used to remove fat from your abdomen or thighs to be injected into the labia majora to enlarge it.
- Creating the labia from penis tissues for gender affirmation.
A surgical scalpel, special surgical scissors, or radiofrequency can be used to cut and excision tissue. A syringe will be used to administer injections.
Throughout your surgery, bleeding will be controlled. Any open surgical incisions will be closed with absorbable sutures by your surgeon. A surgical dressing will be applied to your wound.
Your anesthesia will be terminated. If you’ve had general anesthesia, your anesthesia team will remove your breathing tube and make sure you’re breathing normally. You will then proceed to the recovery area.
Labiaplasty Recovery Timeline
Usually, it will take you around six weeks to recover completely from labiaplasty surgery.
During this time, you will have one or more follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider. You’ll almost certainly have absorbable sutures that don’t need to be removed.
You will be given pain management instructions, which may include prescription or over-the-counter pain relievers such as Tylenol.
Your doctor could also prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication and/or topical antibiotics to be applied to your surgical wound.
Now, if your pain does not improve with the use of pain medication prescribed to you, notify your healthcare provider.
Healing From Labiaplasty
It is very important to follow the healthcare provider’s instructions for taking care of your wounds, bathing, and cleaning yourself after using the toilet.
You may be told to wash your wound with lukewarm water but avoid using soap or other products on it for the first week after surgery.
After urinating or having a bowel movement, avoid rubbing the surgical area by gently wiping or washing it. Using a Peri bottle can be beneficial.
You may also experience some bleeding, which you can absorb by wearing a sanitary pad.
Because straining can increase pain and stretch or break your sutures, your healthcare provider may recommend a diet or medication to prevent constipation.
Swelling is to be expected. You can apply ice packs to swollen areas, but never directly to your skin.
After about one to two weeks, the swelling should begin to subside, and you may be able to discontinue pain medication.
You may still be bleeding, but it should be lessening.
Continue to keep your wound clean and use any medications prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Labiaplasty is an elective surgery, but there could still arise complications. It is important to look for the following warning signs of post-operative complications:
- Excessive or deteriorating pain
- Increasing blood clots Discolored discharge or pus
- The wound is being opened.
- Severe urination or bowel movement pain
If you experience any of these symptoms please contact your doctor as soon as possible.
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