What to Expect After Labiaplasty Recovery in Week 1

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Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure that changes the appearance, shape, or size of the inner or outer lips of the vagina. In the end, it can be more comfortable to wear tight clothing. The procedure also can relieve any discomfort a woman may feel during exercise or intercourse.

For many women, these are worthwhile goals. And they're goals that can be attained as long as you know what to do as you recover.

This article explains how to prepare for a labiaplasty and what to expect during the all-important first week after the procedure is over. It may set the tone for your recovery, which could take eight weeks.

Patient sitting on hospital bed

Compassionate Eye Foundation / Natasha Alipour Faridani / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Preparations for Recovery

Before you have your surgery, consider taking some steps that will make that first week easier:

  • Buy a spray bottle and fill it with water. (Keep reading to find out why.)
  • Take a few days off work and/or from any exercise/training routines. If you cannot do this, you may want to reconsider scheduling the surgery for a time when you can rest afterward.
  • Get a supply of Arnica and Bromelain, which are supplements that will clear up swelling and bruising. (Check with your physician first.)
  • Remove pubic hair.
  • Abstain from sex.

Life Without Sex?

If you can’t go without sex for six to eight weeks, you are not a candidate for this procedure. Your incisions will need adequate time to heal, and even gentle sex can interfere with the healing process.

Day 1

The first day after surgery, expect the inner and outer labia (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.” Genital tissue is quite compliant, meaning it can stretch significantly. It may look alarmingly swollen now but will soon return to its normal state. On the first post-surgery day, applying a cold compress to the area will help with pain relief and swelling. Avoid keeping the compress on the area for longer than 15 minutes at a time to avoid skin damage. Otherwise, get the first week off to a positive start by:

  • Taking Arnica and Bromelain, as directed by your physician. Expect to continue taking the capsules for a few days after your procedure.
  • Taking the pain pills recommended by your surgeon. You may manage just fine with acetaminophen (Tylenol), but you may need something stronger, such as a narcotic (Norco, Vicodin). Stay ahead of the pain so you won't have to "chase" it. Your surgeon may also prescribe a lidocaine ointment that you can apply directly to your incisions.
  • Expecting some mild, blood-tinged drainage. Friction from your underwear and even from shifting in a chair or walking can cause moderate to severe discomfort as well as drainage. This is exactly why many women take off work for a few days: so they can rest and keep the symptoms in check.

Use That Spray Bottle

You may experience a stinging sensation while you urinate. This too is normal. Use that spray bottle filled with water to squirt the incisions as you urinate. Doing so should reduce the sting. It will also help keep the genital area clean.

Day 2

The swelling may intensify. This is typical, for it often gets worse before it gets better. So try not to become alarmed. Continue using the spray bottle when you go to the bathroom. Once you put more than 24 hours between you and the surgery, your surgeon may allow you to take a sitz bath.

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

You may be unable to wear tight clothing or underwear if you’re sensitive to the pressure they may apply to your skin. Continue icing if permitted by your surgeon. Bouts of cold should help greatly with pain and swelling.

Expect Symptoms

If in the first week, expect a range of symptoms: Pain, itching, drainage, and maybe a fever. Contact your physician if you experience a symptom that is not listed on your personalized post-op instructions.

Days 6 to 7

By days six and seven, the swelling should improve slightly. The pain will likely still be present but should be lessened. Ointments and pain medication should be used as directed by your surgeon. At this point, you will likely begin tapering off your pain medications.

Some itching around the stitches is normal. You will likely have a postoperative appointment around this time or in the next day or two.

Brace Yourself for Itching

Itching is normal as your body kicks into healing mode the first week after a labiaplasty. If the itching becomes unbearable, or doesn't respond to a cold compress, mention it to your healthcare provider. You'll want to be sure you don't have a yeast or bacterial infection or even an allergic reaction to a medication.

What's Next

Once you've made it through this critical first week, it should become easier for you to make the lifestyle adjustments necessary to heal from a labiaplasty. You still have several weeks ahead of you. And while every woman's recovery looks different, it's fair to expect that:

  • You may be able to return to your normal lifestyle and fitness routine between two and four weeks after surgery.
  • The dissolvable stitches should be gone in three or four weeks.
  • It may take six to eight weeks until the surgical scars are strong enough to withstand intercourse. But check with your physician first.
  •  The scar tissue will become firm before it softens, usually after several months.

Summary:

The first day after your labiaplasty may set the tone for the remainder of your recovery. So resign yourself to be a good patient by: taking Arnica and Bromelain (unless directed otherwise by your physician); taking the pain pills recommended by your surgeon; and expecting itching, pain, some drainage, and maybe a fever. There is a remedy for all of these symptoms, so don't try to soldier on without them. You need rest, too, to properly heal. And if itching and pain prevent you from resting and sleeping, you will end up depriving your body of getting the restorative benefits it needs.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. What to expect at every stage of your labiaplasty.

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

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

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