Medically reviewed by Mr. Omar Tillo — MD, MS, EBOPRAS, FRCS (Plast)
If you are considering having labiaplasty surgery but are unsure of the recovery process that the surgical procedure entails, we have provided a timeline below that you can take into consideration. Additionally, we will discuss some tips to help make your recovery as quick and comfortable as possible.
Reasons for Labiaplasty
Although regarded as a cosmetic procedure, there are both aesthetic and functional benefits of labiaplasty:
The excess tissue that protrudes from the inner vaginal folds, which a labiaplasty gets rid of, can cause pain and discomfort from the friction generated when the vagina comes into contact with another surface. As a result, it can be difficult to function when wearing tight clothes or partaking in certain activities such as exercise, sports, and sexual intercourse.
However, a labiaplasty may not resolve specific issues in the genital area, such as urinary incontinence and vaginal tightness. Therefore, you should discuss any functional concerns you hope to resolve with the surgery during a consultation with your surgeon.
Many women choose a labiaplasty to attain a neater and symmetrical appearance for their vagina. The labia minora can stretch and enlarge for various reasons, resulting in excess tissue protruding from the vaginal lips. Thus, a labiaplasty can rejuvenate the vaginal area by creating the ‘tucked in’ appearance that many women favour.
What Causes a Labia to Become Oversized?
Also known as labial hypertrophy, an enlarged labia is usually a harmless condition, although in some cases, it can cause pain and discomfort. The enlargement can affect either or both the labia majora (outer vaginal folds) and labia minora (inner vaginal folds). There are several reasons why the labia may become oversized:
- Some women are born with an enlarged labia
- Increases in oestrogen levels and other hormones during puberty may result in the growth of the labia minora
- Pregnancy and childbirth cause several changes to the body that can enlarge the labia
Labiaplasty Recovery Timeline
The timeline for recovering from labiaplasty varies for each patient. However, detailed below is the typical recovery process for the average patient:
For a few hours after surgery, your genitalia will feel numb due to the effects of the anaesthesia. Afterwards, you may feel some pain and discomfort in your labia majora and labia minora from the swelling and other post-surgical side effects, which you can manage with prescribed pain medication.
The side effects and pain gradually subside in the first week, often to the extent that you will no longer need pain medication. Many women can walk regularly and perform other light physical activities. However, you may still experience swelling, bruising, and itchiness as your incisions continue to heal.
During the second week of recovery, most women feel well enough to resume office work and low-impact activities. Swelling, itching, and other side effects should considerably subside by this point, thus revealing the results of your labiaplasty. However, you must still avoid using tampons, sexual intercourse, and other activities that may strain the labia.
By the sixth week, most women will make a full recovery. You can expect to resume all activities, including strenuous exercise, sexual intercourse, and using tampons. Additionally, as the swelling will almost be completely gone, you should be able to see the final results of your surgery by this point.
You will receive a personalised and detailed aftercare plan before your surgery. However, listed below are some recovery tips that will help any patient recovering from a labiaplasty:
Keep the Area Elevated
We recommend keeping your pelvis elevated as much as possible for the first few days. You can do this by sitting on a recliner or lying down with a pillow underneath your pelvis. This position helps reduce swelling as the effects of gravity will move the excess fluid away from the area.
Use a Cold Compress
We also recommend applying cold compresses to the area for the first 48 hours to minimise swelling. You can create cold compresses by simply placing crushed ice in zip lock bags. To avoid any injuries from the cold, be sure to place the compress over your underwear or a thin towel.
Wear Loose Clothing
You will need to wear loose clothing and underwear for the first 72 hours after surgery, as tight clothing will create fiction that can increase your discomfort. Many women choose to avoid wearing jeans and leggings for up to two weeks after surgery as swelling, itching, and other side effects usually persist up to this point.
Abstain From Sex
Your plastic surgeon will likely clear you to resume all activities, including sexual intercourse, after 6-8 weeks. Until then, you should abstain from any sexual activity that places pressure on the vagina to ensure that your surgical wounds heal properly and do not distort the results of your surgery.
To avoid infections and ensure proper healing, it’s essential to prioritise the hygiene of the surgical wounds. You will receive detailed instructions on how to do this. Some routine tips for keeping the area clean include applying the prescribed paraffin cream, covering the area with soft sanitary towels to prevent it from rubbing against clothing, and avoiding showering for the first 48 hours.
Is a Labiaplasty Painful?
Plastic surgeons usually perform labiaplasty under local anaesthesia, or if you prefer, we can arrange for you to be under general anaesthesia or sedation. Therefore, you won’t feel any pain during the surgery. However, you will gradually feel moderate pain and discomfort after surgery as the anaesthesia wears off, mainly due to the swelling. Your surgeon will prescribe pain medications to help manage the pain that may persist until the swelling subsides.
Can Labiaplasty Cause Nerve Damage?
A labiaplasty surgery gets rid of the excess redundant tissue in the labia. Therefore, if performed correctly, the surgery does not damage any nerves, and after a full recovery, you will regain all sensation in the area. However, nerve damage is a possible (although rare) risk associated with labiaplasty, as is the case with most surgical procedures. Our cosmetic surgeon will openly discuss all associated risks with you during a consultation.
Is Labiaplasty Worth It?
Having excess tissue can be a source of insecurity and discomfort for many women. In addition to the aesthetic benefits that can restore your confidence, labiaplasty can also alleviate pain and discomfort to improve one’s quality of life. Therefore, despite the recovery period, many patients consider the permanent results from their surgery to be worthwhile.
Schedule a Consultation with CREO Clinic Today
Dr Omar Tillo specialises in labiaplasty procedures alongside many other body plastic surgeries. As a result, he has performed the surgery on many occasions. After examining you, he will design and discuss a bespoke solution to produce your desired results.
If you are considering a labiaplasty, book a consultation with Dr Tillo to discuss the surgical procedure and the associated recovery period at length.