Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure to resize or reshape the labia minora or, in fewer cases, the labia majora. During recovery, a person can take medications to help manage pain and discomfort. Recovery time varies between individuals.
A person may undergo a labiaplasty for aesthetic reasons or because an enlarged labia minora causes discomfort.
This article discusses how to prepare for, and what to expect from, recovery after a labiaplasty. It also looks at recovery time, caring for the surgical site, and when to contact the surgeon after the procedure.
Recovery may include some pain and discomfort, as well as swelling and scarring.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), a person should plan to rest at home and avoid strenuous activities during recovery, which usually takes 1–2 weeks.
Before the procedure, individuals may want to request help with everyday tasks from friends or family during their recovery in advance and stock up on grocery items and prescription medications.
A person can typically leave the doctor’s office on the day of the procedure and begin their recovery at home.
Following the procedure, a person will experience swelling, which can persist for 3–6 months.
Once the swelling has subsided, a person may be able to see the results of the surgery after fully healing. This can take about 6 months following the surgery.
After this time, they may request revisions if they are not satisfied with the outcome.
Will it be painful?
People are likely to experience pain and discomfort during recovery.
The surgeon will typically prescribe medications to manage the pain.
Will there be much bleeding?
A person may spot or bleed a small amount after surgery and require sanitary pads until it subsides. However, heavy bleeding is unusual.
If a person experiences heavy bleeding or the incision is separating, they should contact their surgeon.
The duration of recovery can vary between different individuals.
The ASPS notes that a person will typically recover enough to resume work and usual activities within 2 weeks of the surgery but should not resume sexual activity for at least 6 weeks after the procedure.
Swelling can persist for several weeks, and a person may take 6 months to fully recover.
Recovery can vary between individuals, and a person should follow the advice of their surgeon.
A person should only resume activities if their surgeon advises they are ready to do so.
Day 1 after surgery
A person should arrange for a friend or family member to drive them home after surgery.
They may experience pain and discomfort and should avoid activity. Individuals should rest and take the pain medication prescribed by the surgeon.
1 week after surgery
Pain may subside during this time, and some people recover enough by the end of their first week postsurgery to resume work and other nonstrenuous activities.
A person may experience itching in this stage of recovery.
During this week, a person should take measures to reduce the risk of pain and infection. These include:
- elevating the area using a pillow or rolled blanket placed under the lower back
- icing the area
- urinating in the shower or using a squirt bottle while sitting on the toilet
People should avoid applying ice directly to the skin.
2 weeks after surgery
Pain and discomfort may subside further during this time, although swelling is likely to persist.
A person should continue to properly cleanse the area and refrain from strenuous activity. Most people can resume work and usual activity within 2 weeks of surgery.
3 weeks after surgery
A person may visit their surgeon for a follow-up appointment 3 weeks following their procedure.
A person should continue to avoid strenuous activities, such as cycling and swimming, as well as tampons and sexual activity.
Pain and discomfort should recede and allow for typical daily activities.
4–6 weeks after surgery
At 6 weeks after surgery, a person can typically resume life as usual and perform activities such as cycling and other exercises, as well as sexual intercourse.
Swelling may remain for several weeks and can persist for months postsurgery.
The surgeon will provide a person with detailed instructions on properly caring for the surgical site.
To cleanse the area, a person should use water to gently rinse the area in the shower, gently pat dry, and apply clean dressings. They should avoid rubbing the wound and using harsh chemicals around the stitched area.
The surgeon may prescribe antibiotic ointment or gel or other ointment or gel to help relieve pain, which a person can gently apply after cleansing.
Individuals should wear loose-fitting clothing and cotton underwear during recovery and avoid tight or irritating clothing that may rub at the wound.
A person can use a padded cushion with an indent in the center to allow for more comfortable sitting.
Individuals should follow the advice of their surgeon and resume activities according to their recovery plan. They should also discuss pain medication with their surgeon and take it as the doctor has instructed.
When can a person resume daily activities or return to work?
People can usually return to work and resume their usual, nonstrenuous activity within 1–2 weeks of surgery.
When can a person have sex again?
A person can typically resume sexual activity within 6 weeks of surgery.
A person should contact their surgeon if they experience any of the following:
A person may have concerns or questions about the appearance of their labia minora after surgery and whether there are complications involved.
These may include:
What will the scar look like after surgery?
As the tissue of the labia minora has various folds, surgeons can often hide the scar so that it becomes almost invisible after recovery.
The scar tissue may become firm as the stitches dissolve, but it will soften into the rest of the tissue after several months.
A person may wish to discuss further scarring concerns with their surgeon.
What if the result is unsatisfactory?
A person should wait at least 6 months before making a judgment on whether they are satisfied with the appearance of the labia minora after surgery, as swelling can persist.
If they are unhappy with the result, they may request a revision.
Are there any possible complications?
Authors of a 2018 study found that across 451 labiaplasty cases, complication rates were low.
However, there are potential complications that a person may experience during or after recovery from labiaplasty. These
- hematoma, which is a blood clot
- dehiscence, in which the edges of the wound separate
- unsatisfactory scarring
A person may wish to discuss personal health concerns and other potential complications with their surgeon.
It can take a person several weeks to months to fully recover from labiaplasty.
During recovery, people should avoid sexual activity, the use of tampons, and strenuous activities. Most people are able to return to usual levels of activity within 1–2 weeks of surgery.
Individuals should follow their surgeon’s instructions to help minimize the risks of infection and complications and to help recovery.