Labiaplasty Recovery: Post-Operative Timeline and Tips
One of the benefits of having a labiaplasty centered practice is that me and my nurses know exactly what you can expect from the procedure. Because we have taken care of hundreds of patients who are bothered by long labia, we can give you precise details about your healing and recovery at every point after surgery.
So with that in mind, I wanted to formulate this guide to help you understand, step-by-step, your labiaplasty recovery timeline, and our expert tips for the fastest healing after your labiaplasty surgery.
Common Concerns Following Labiaplasty: Pain Control
Pain After Surgery
A common question I am asked about labiaplasty is, “How much pain will I be in after my labiaplasty?” While the area is highly sensitive and filled with nerve endings, the answer might surprise you!
Pain after labiaplasty surgery is usually limited to the first night after surgery only! You will have discomfort and swelling for a week or two, but the pain is really limited to the first night after surgery. This pain is usually described to me and my nurses as a pinching or pulsing/throbbing type pain. The best treatment for this, and our #1 recommendation for labiaplasty post op pain is ice. Ice packs decrease swelling, limit additional blood flow, and cause some local numbness. We advise 15 minutes on and 15 minutes off for pain control after a labiaplasty while you’re awake.
One great way to do this is to freeze a water bottle and rest it between your legs as you sit and watch TV or read a book. The water bottle “trick” can also be used when you return to work, to be more discreet when icing your labiaplasty healing area.
While ice can cover most of the discomfort, we also prescribe pain medication. Most patients either take it just the first night, or don’t even take any at all! Many patients are OK just with Tylenol and ice for that first night after labiaplasty surgery.
Labiaplasty Recovery Timeline
Every person is different, and some might recover faster than others. However, below is a rough timeline of what to expect after surgery to help you track your progress.
Since you’re most likely going to be awake for the surgery (95% of our patients drive themselves to the surgery center and drive themselves home with no anesthesia other than the local numbing injections) you can leave right afterwards. You will be given non-stick soft dressings and an ice pack, along with the prescriptions you’ll have from your pre-op visit. That first night is where you’ll have the most discomfort, so keep icing and have your pain meds on the ready.
Day Two and Three
Some spotting is normal during this time. Using a cold compress during the second and third days can soothe the skin, swelling, and discomfort. Swelling generally peaks on day three after labiaplasty.
Day Four and Five
By the fourth or fifth day after the operation, the swelling should be getting less and less, but you may notice more bruising discolorations. During this period, you can walk around lightly for short periods. While it’s not ideal, many patients return to work or school on limited schedules. Continue using a cold compress to aid swelling and discomfort reduction.
Day Six and Seven
This is usually when a follow-up appointment happens to check on your progress and concerns. Some differences between each side can be observed here, based on the way that swelling may resolve differently on each labia.
While light walking and continuing with your medication are encouraged, you can stop with the cold compresses since swelling should show a significant reduction during the second week. Your stitches are all internal and they start to dissolve at this point, but you won’t see them.
Around this time, sitting should be comfortable, as well as longer walks. Many people can also return to light forms of exercise during the third week.
Week Four to Six
As you enter the fourth week, you should be able to resume everyday activities and exercise routines. At 6 weeks post op there are no restrictions, so tampon use and bathing is ok. Sexual intercourse is permitted at 6 weeks post op after labiaplasty, but please listen to your body. There will be many new sensations and you want to be sure that your partner is very gentle with you.
Tips for a Healthy and Faster Recovery
- Plan on doing nothing for the first 48 hours.
- Wear loose pants or a dress.
- White cotton underwear is preferred: no lace, no dyes, very soft.
- Use ice packs and cold compresses for the first week or two.
- Don’t use tampons or engage in sex for at least six or seven weeks or until you are completely healed.
- After using the bathroom, wash yourself with warm water and pat dry (we will provide you with a recovery kit that has everything you need!).
- Get sufficient sleep at night and rest as much as possible during the first two weeks.
- Eat nutritious meals.
- Avoid smoking and drinking.
- Keep on the lookout for yeast infections, we prescribe everyone diflucan just in case!
How Does Labiaplasty Affect Intercourse and Exercise?
Two super common questions I get asked in the labiaplasty recovery are:
“When can I have sex after a labiaplasty?”
“How soon can I go back to the gym after labiaplasty surgery?
This quick guide will review my experience with these two questions, and key tips for the safest return to normal activities after labiaplasty.
Labiaplasty and Sexual Intercourse
The labia minora is a very delicate tissue with a high number of nerve endings. That said, it is also one of the fastest healing areas of the body. Remember when you bite your cheek or your tongue how painful it is at first? And also how quickly that pain subsides and how fast the mouth heals? The same is true for labiaplasty. In fact, the tissues inside the mouth and lips are almost identical to the tissues of the labia and vagina.
So, while the labia minora are very sensitive at first after labiaplasty, the healing is very rapid. That said, sexual intercourse involves repeated friction of the labia. This is clearly not recommended for obvious reasons on any healing incision. For these reasons you need to be fully sure that you are completely healed before you resume sexual activities following labiaplasty. To be safe, I recommend women wait 6 weeks after labiaplasty to resume sexual intercourse.
Complications of Resuming Intercourse and Exercise Too Soon
Repeated friction is also super common after exercise, particularly when doing cardio. Weightlifting is actually OK at three weeks after labiaplasty, but things like Peloton, elliptical, stairmaster, and running/treadmills are the worst. Repeated trauma and friction can damage the labia minora repair and cause suture line separation, a process known
as dehiscence. While the healing from labia separation is usually totally inconsequential, it can sometimes require a surgery revision. Revisions can’t happen for several months after surgery, so take it slow. Early activities that are too vigorous can also prolong swelling and pain. This, in turn, could also lead to a longer recovery period. So go easy!
How Long Should You Wait?
It is important to note that every person is different. Healing can happen faster for some while others have to wait a few extra weeks to fully recover from labiaplasty surgery. Two months is a time where I would say that 100% of my patients are 100% recovered after labiaplasty surgery.
So please, when it comes to exercise after labiaplasty, avoid cardio and consider light weights no sooner than 3 weeks post op. You can have sex 6 weeks after labiaplasty if your partner is gentle and everything feels right to you. Listen to your body and you’ll do beautifully with a labiaplasty here in Orlando with me and my amazing nursing team.