Vulvar tissue can become elongated and deflated as a result of aging, having children, enduring trauma, or even changing weight. Age, hormonal changes, childbirth, trauma, genetics or even weight loss can cause undesired changes in the intimate areas. This may cause pain and discomfort during intimacy and normal day-to-day activities. Aside from general discomfort, women may simply feel less confident about how their genitals look. For these reasons, some women choose to have their labia minora repaired surgically with labiaplasty.
This labiaplasty recovery and surgery guide will help you understand:
- What a labiaplasty procedure is
- What to expect during recovery
- Tips to help with recovery
- Cost of the procedure
- Who is a good candidate for labiaplasty
- How to prepare for a consultation with your doctor and your procedure
- Frequently Asked Questions About Labiaplasty Recovery
What is Labiaplasty?
The term labiaplasty refers to plastic surgery performed on the labia. It is the most commonly performed vaginal rejuvenation procedure. This procedure can relieve discomfort women may experience from twisting and tugging of the labia or just to improve the aesthetic appearance.
This surgery can be performed alone or with vaginoplasty. Surgery can be performed on the labia majora or the labia minora. It is most often performed on the labia minora. The procedure typically makes the labia smaller or corrects asymmetry. Check out some before and after labiaplasty photos.
After the procedure, patients may be prescribed medications to help manage discomfort. Surgeons should provide post-surgical instructions regarding wound care to be followed.
Recovery time does vary, but most women are able to return to normal daily activities in 1 to 2 weeks. However, patients should refrain from sexual intercourse, tampon insertion, submersion underwater, or strenuous exercise for 6 to 8 weeks, or until cleared by their doctor.
- Avoid baths and swimming for at least 4 weeks
- Showers and applying soap to the vulva during recovery are recommended
- Take post-operative medicine (such as antibiotic treatments or pain medication) as prescribed
- Wear loose underclothing to avoid friction
- Avoid sitting for too long and direct pressure to the wound
- Do not smoke for at least 4 weeks before surgery and 8 weeks after surgery as it can delay the healing process
Reasons Patients Want A Labiaplasty
Women opt for surgery for a variety of reasons. The ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgeons) reports that the majority of women who elect to undergo labiaplasty choose to do so for practical reasons; Commonly, patients list a tugging pain in the labia area when partaking in bike rides or when intimate with their partner. In addition, itching, irritation, and self-consciousness are all reasons women seek labiaplasty.
What Happens During a Labiaplasty?
The wedge procedure is one of the most popular methods of performing labiaplasty. During this procedure, a natural border to the labia minora remains after a wedge-shaped piece of tissue has been removed. Extra folds of the clitoral hood can be reduced at the same time. Typically, plastic surgeons use absorbable sutures.
The surgeon removes and tucks the excess tissue to allow the labia minora to sit within the labia majora. It can be done under local or general anesthesia.
How Much Does a Labiaplasty Cost?
The surgery can cost $4,000 to $13,000, but prices vary depending on your location and the location of your plastic surgeon. The ASPS lists the average cost of a labiaplasty in 2018 as $2,924. This average cost is only part of the total price, however. Not included in their number: anesthesia and operating room facility costs.
Is a Labiaplasty Covered by Insurance?
Although labiaplasty is not usually covered by insurance, it may be covered if deemed medically necessary. Whether or not the procedure is covered by a patient’s insurance plan also depends on the terms of the policy.
Labial hypertrophy (the name given to a condition where women have overly large or uneven labia minora) is a medical problem that may need surgical correction if it causes recurring infections and/or irritation. If labiaplasty is needed for medical reasons, a doctor may submit a letter of proof to the patient’s insurance company in order to have the procedure approved for coverage.
Be Prepared to Discuss:
- Your surgery goals
- Medical conditions, including drug allergies
- Current medications, including vitamins
- Previous surgeries
Your Plastic Surgeon May:
- Evaluate your general health status
- Take photographs
- Discuss treatment options
- Prescribe a course of treatment to follow
- Discuss likely outcomes of labiaplasty and potential complications
- Discuss the use of anesthesia
Patients should take this time to ask any surgical questions they may have. A consultation is a perfect time to get the answers to all your questions and discuss concerns with your doctor prior to surgery.
How Should You Prepare for a Labiaplasty?
- Plan to take time off! At least a week is recommended
- Consider arranging for help in the week following surgery
- Consult with the doctor about any questions or concerns before surgery
- Ask your doctor about taking Arnica, bromelain, and Vitamin K to decrease downtime and bruising
- Do not drink alcohol or green tea before the surgery as they can thin the blood and increase bruising
Anesthesia for a Labiaplasty
Labiaplasty can be and is most often performed under local anesthesia. Other options include sedation or general anesthesia. Generally, it is done under local anesthesia and oral sedation as an office procedure. Most plastic surgeons agree that this is often the easiest and best way to perform the procedure. However, some women prefer to make this procedure a part of a mommy makeover package, which will also include other surgeries. In this case, general anesthesia may be required.
What Are the Risks of a Labiaplasty?
The short-term risks of a labiaplasty include bleeding, infection, and scarring of tissue. If there are complications, patients may need another procedure to correct these. Most patients report no loss of sensation but, because the tissue is rich in nerve endings, there is a small chance of reduced sensation.
The most common complications following labiaplasty are dehiscence, hematoma, unsatisfactory scarring, and superficial infections. In rare cases, flap necrosis has resulted when the wedge procedure has been performed. Otherwise, the risks with labiaplasty are the same as with most surgical procedures: bleeding and the possibility of infection.
The most commonly reported complication of labiaplasty surgery is over-resection. While some women desire an aggressive reduction, this can result in chronic dryness, scarring at or near the vaginal opening, and pain during intercourse. For these reasons, it is important that plastic surgeons are conservative with how much tissue is reduced. It may also be necessary to reduce the clitoral hood for balance and symmetry. Prior to surgery, it is important to speak with the surgeon and decide together how much tissue will ultimately be removed.
What Are the Results of a Labiaplasty?
Everyone heals differently after the surgery. Patients should give their bodies time to rest and recover. Most likely, the results of your labiaplasty procedure will be visible after a few weeks. Once the swelling diminishes, results become apparent. In the coming weeks and months, scars begin to fade, and patients can judge the results of their labiaplasty procedures for themselves.
Labiaplasty typically results in shorter labia minora that does not hang below the labia majora. Most patients who experienced discomfort due to larger labia minora find relief after surgery. According to multiple sources, more than 90% of patients are happy with the results of their labiaplasty surgery.
Alternatives to a Labiaplasty
For those wishing to avoid surgery, non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation treatments can provide an alternative that may achieve results nearly as quickly. However, the results of these treatments typically last one year or less. These treatments use highly-focused energy to contract tissue and promote collagen production in the area.
Currently, the FDA approves the following non-surgical feminine rejuvenation treatments:
- ThermiVA – This technique is generally successful for patients with minor aesthetic needs, vaginal dryness, and incontinence. This procedure is non-invasive and painless. ThermiVA uses radiofrequency energy to stimulate collagen production and revive the region. The procedure takes only 15 to30 minutes, but oftentimes multiple sessions are required. Since there is no anesthesia used, downtime after treatment is not needed. However, sessions need to be scheduled at least one month apart and not back-to-back.
- FemiLift and FemiTight – These procedures use lasers to stimulate collagen production and new tissue growth. This can enhance lubrication during sexual intercourse and relieve symptoms like vaginal dryness, burning, and itching. Multiple treatment sessions are required and should be scheduled one week after menstrual cycles. Patients only need a few minutes to recover following FemiLift or FemiTight, as they are outpatient and minimally-invasive procedures.
- DiVa – DiVa is a procedure that is performed using a specific laser combination to DiVa – DiVa is a laser that uses two wavelengths to increase collagen, moisture, and tighten the vaginal canal. It is performed in 3-5 minutes in the office, typically 3 sessions, one month apart. Because DiVa therapy revitalizes the vaginal tissue, it can help with stress incontinence as well, especially after childbirth.
- VFIT+ – This at-home device uses red light technology to increase collagen, moisture and sexual function. The device is very cost-effective when compared to more expensive therapies and can be done in the home, however, it must be purchased from a doctor. It can also be used in conjunction with the procedures above.
Many patients who start with the nonsurgical options have better results in healing after labiaplasty surgery, because the increase in blood supply to the area promotes healing. It is recommended to speak to a doctor about these, and other, alternatives before undergoing labiaplasty.
Are You A Good Candidate for Labiaplasty?
There is a lot of variation in what is considered normal when it comes to labia. However, the length usually measures about an inch long. Candidates with excessive labia often request labiaplasty not because they are concerned about the cosmetic appearance, but because they are experiencing discomfort when participating in sports or sexual activities.
Good candidates for vaginal rejuvenation are typically women who have experienced significant labial changes after childbirth or who have always had large or irregular labia.
Still not sure if you need labiaplasty? Ask yourself:
Does your labia cause discomfort when wearing tight clothing like swimwear, underwear, or jeans?
Women who benefit the most from labiaplasty surgery are seeking to improve their daily quality of life. Trimming their labia minora helps their clothes fit better.
Does the appearance of your labia make you feel self-conscious during intercourse?
Labiaplasty to help restore symmetry and balance to the vagina so women can feel confident about their bodies again.
Does the size of your labia result in pain during intercourse?
Everyone deserves to experience pain-free intercourse. Once you have completed your Labiaplasty recovery you should achieve comfort during sex.
Other reasons to pursue labiaplasty include:
- Being 18 years or older. Labiaplasty is not usually recommended for patients under 18 unless significant irregularities or asymmetries are present.
- Physical discomfort while sitting or exercising
- Labial tears from trauma during childbirth
As you can see, deciding to undergo labiaplasty surgery is a big decision. Many factors determine whether or not a woman should consider this procedure, whether or not she is a good candidate for the procedure, and even how it should be performed.
Careful consideration must be given to whether or not other non-surgical methods of vaginal rejuvenation should first be considered. There are also financial concerns that must be addressed, such as paying for the procedure and taking time off for recovery and healing afterward.
As with all surgeries, there are potential risks to be considered and it is important to know what to expect from the results of your surgery. A consultation with your plastic surgeon is an important time to discuss any questions and concerns you may have as well as give you a chance to prepare for surgery should you choose to undergo this procedure.
In the end, if you decide a labiaplasty procedure is right for you, use the information above to help prepare you and give you tips for healing on your journey to better health.
Frequently Asked Questions About Labiaplasty Recovery
Will there be itching and swelling?
It is normal to experience some itching and swelling, but it should only last 2 to 3 days.
What are some tips to speed up the healing process?
Resting and avoiding overexertion is most important. Additionally, witch hazel pads can help to cool and soothe the area. Cold compresses can decrease swelling and speed up healing as well.
What does scarring look like?
Labia scars are typically not very visible because the incisions are so small. The thin tissue has a strong blood supply which helps minimize scarring as well.
When can I get back to my active lifestyle after the surgery?
Most women can return to their lifestyle 2 to 4 weeks after surgery. However, in order to allow for the wound to fully heal, patients are advised to abstain from sexual intimacy for 6 to 8 weeks after the surgery.
When will you see results?
Results will begin to be visible after the swelling goes down. Results will continue to take shape over the weeks and months after the procedure.