What to Expect After Labiaplasty Recovery in Week 1

Labiaplasty reshapes your labia for a more desirable appearance or to relieve discomfort, such as to address the inner vaginal lips protruding beyond the outer vaginal lips. But this is only the beginning. Knowing how to care for your incisions after labiaplasty will make your recovery much smoother and less painful.

Patient sitting on hospital bed
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Preparations for Recovery

Before you have your surgery, there are some supplies you need to have handy and things you may want to consider:

  • Buy a spray bottle which you will fill with water. You will learn the use for this below.
  • You may need to take a few days off work and/or from any exercise/training routines. If you cannot do this, you may want to reconsider doing the surgery at a time that will allow you to have some rest.
  • You may want to clear the area of hair prior to the procedure.
  • Abstain from sex.

If you can’t go without sex for longer than three to six weeks, you are not a candidate for this procedure. Your incisions need adequate time to heal or you can end up ruining your result and needing revision/reconstructive surgery.

Day 1

The first day after surgery, expect your labia, both the inner and the outer, also known as the labia minora and labia majora, respectively, to be quite swollen. The skin over your clitoris may be bulging as well even though no cutting was done in this area.

Absolutely do not expect them to look “normal.” The tissue down there is quite compliant, meaning it can stretch significantly. It may look alarmingly swollen, but not to worry, this is normal after surgery.

On this first day, applying a cold compress to the area will help with pain relief and swelling. Avoid keeping the cold compress on the area longer than 15 minutes in a row to avoid skin damage.

Commonly, one week before your procedure, a physician will prescribe arnica and bromelain pills to help with bruising and swelling. Under the direction of your physician, you may be told to continue this for a few days after surgery to minimize bruising post-procedure.

Take your pain pills as directed by your surgeon. Some patients will suffice with taking only acetaminophen (Tylenol) while others may need something a bit stronger, such as a narcotic (Norco, Vicodin, etc.).

If your surgeon has injected Marcaine, a long-acting pain medication, into the area after surgery, you may now start to feel that it has worn off. Take your pain medication before this happens to get a head start on the pain. Some surgeons may prescribe a lidocaine ointment that you can apply to your incisions to help ease the pain.

Mild blood-tinged drainage is normal. Some surgeons will have you start applying antibiotic ointment to the area.

You may have some stinging with urination. Using a spray bottle filled with water to squirt on the incisions as you urinate will dilute the urine running over your incisions and take away the sting. Additionally, it gives the added benefit of cleaning the area after urination.

Friction from your underwear and even from just the movement of walking may cause moderate to severe discomfort or pain. It is for this reason you may want to take some time off from work.

Day 2

The swelling may be worse than the previous day; it often gets a bit worse before it gets better. Do not be alarmed. Continue using the spray bottle with urination to give pain relief and to clean the area. Once you are more than 24 hours out from your surgery, your surgeon may allow you to take sitz baths.

Do not expect normal labial appearance. You will still have swelling. In fact, as you start to move about a bit more, you may notice fluctuations in the amount of swelling of your labia. Asymmetric swelling can be normal.

You will continue to take your pain medications and apply ointment to the incisions as directed by your surgeon. Pain and/or discomfort is still normal. Blood-tinged drainage on your underwear or a sanitary napkin is normal.

You may still not be wearing any tight clothing/underwear if you’re sensitive to the pressure. Continue icing if permitted by your surgeon and/or you feel you need that extra pain relief and help with swelling.

If in the first week you have unbearable pain, foul odor, pus, excessive drainage, fever, or any other concern, you should call your surgeon.

Days 6 to 7

By day six and seven, the swelling should improve slightly but will still be nowhere near normal. The pain will likely still be present but should be lessened. Ointments and pain medication should be used as directed by your surgeon. You will likely be tapering your pain medications.

Continue cleaning the area after using the bathroom. Some itching around the stitches is normal. You will likely have a postoperative appointment around this time or in the next one to two days.

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  2. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Four common questions women have about recovery after labiaplasty.

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  4. Furnas HJ. Trim labiaplasty. Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open. 2017;5(5):e1349. doi:10.1097/GOX.0000000000001349