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Labiaplasty Recovery: Timeline + Tips

Written by Chuma Chike-Obi, MD, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on June 8, 2021 19 Comments

labiaplasty recovery tips

Previously published on August 29, 2018. Updated on June 8, 2021 with additional recovery tips.

Labiaplasty (sometimes called labial reduction) is a surgical procedure that is performed to alter the appearance and reduce the size of the inner labia (labia minora). While labiaplasty is a relatively quick outpatient procedure, there are things about the recovery process that every patient should know.

Although labiaplasty can be performed in your doctor’s office, proper recovery still requires preparation and strict adherence to post-surgical instructions. This post will provide a basic recovery timeline for the average labiaplasty procedure, as well as some tips to make recovery as easy as possible. Note that your specific recovery experience may differ based on your unique pain tolerance, body characteristics, and the labiaplasty technique performed.

Preparing for Labiaplasty 

Preparing ahead of time for your labiaplasty can decrease discomfort, give you more time to rest, and will generally make your recovery more smoothly. To reduce risk of complications and hasten your recovery time, consider the following:

Get Healthy

As your surgery date approaches, it’s never too early to start hydrating, eating healthy, whole foods, and getting more sleep. The healthier your body before surgery, the faster your recovery.  Make sure that your protein intake is adequate as they provide the building blocks (i.e. amino acids) for healing.  I like my patients to double their protein intake in the weeks leading up to surgery.

Take a Break

Plan on taking at least one week off from work so you can properly rest and heal before you return to activities.

Prepare Your Home

Purchase all post-surgery prescriptions and medications ahead of time, so you have them as soon as you return home. Consider stocking up on groceries and comfort items so there’s no need to run errands while you’re resting.

Remove Pubic Hair

Consider shaving or waxing before your surgery to help keep the area clear of hair while your tissues heal.

Labiaplasty Recovery Timeline

1 to 3 Days Following Surgery: You may experience mild pain for the first few days after the procedure. Pain can be managed through prescribed pain medication prescribed by your surgeon. Mild to moderate swelling and bruising of the area is also quite common. It is not uncommon for one side of the labia to be more swollen than the other side in the early period. Rest is extremely important. Most patients will be advised to minimize walking for the first 2-3 days.

1 Week Following Surgery: Pain often subsides to the point where most patients no longer require pain medication. However, swelling and bruising may persist. Many women begin to feel well enough to walk and perform normal physical activity. Most patients will be cleared to go back to work. Some patients may notice a persistent itchiness as their incisions continue to heal. It is important to not scratch or rub the treated area. A cold compress is helpful or you may be prescribed a medication.

3-4 Weeks Following Surgery: Dissolvable stitches that are frequently used to close labiaplasty incisions should fully be gone. Patients are often cleared to undertake more active forms of exercise, but your surgeon may still advise you to refrain from insertional sexual intercourse or using tampons.

6 Weeks Following Surgery: At this point most patients are approximately 90% healed. It’s common for the patient to be cleared for sexual intercourse, to undertake strenuous exercise, and to use tampons by this point. Most swelling and bruising should subside providing the first glimpse of the final results of the procedure. However, the final results of your labiaplasty will not be complete for 4-6 months.

Pain

A labiaplasty can be performed under local anesthesia or general anesthesia. During the procedure, the anesthesia will prevent you from feeling pain. The most common labiaplasty involves shortening the labia minora. While several techniques exist, this is most commonly performed by making a well-concealed incision on each side, removing excess labial tissue, and then suturing the area together again.

Following the procedure, your doctor may prescribe pain medication to decrease discomfort during your first few days of recovery. You may also receive anti-inflammatory medications to decrease swelling or antibiotics to reduce risk of infection.

Swelling & Itching

Swelling and itching are extremely common as your incisions heal. In fact, many patients complain more about itchiness than pain or discomfort. While swelling should peak within the first 3 – 5 days, itching may last for up to a week. If itching persists, see your doctor to rule out allergic reactions to medication, as well as bacterial or yeast infections.

Scarring

Labiaplasty does result in the creation of minor scars stemming from incisions made along the labia. Often the scarring blends quite well with the surrounding labia tissue and is hidden behind surrounding naturally occurring wrinkles and folds. I typically use dissolvable stitches which will go away on their own as your incisions heal. This process may take up to 4 weeks. The healing area may feel firm at first, but should soften with time.

Personal Hygiene After Labiaplasty Surgery

Do not bathe, swim, or soak in water until cleared by your doctor to do so. Until then, take showers only. Avoid fragrant or exfoliating soaps, which can be irritating, and rinse with warm water instead. When exiting the shower, gently pat dry and apply clean bandages if needed.

To protect the area and avoid discomfort, chose clean, loose-fitting clothes:

  • Wear clean, 100% cotton, loose-fitting undergarments
  • Consider wearing boxers to prevent chafing
  • Choose skirts and dresses over pants

Recovery Tips

  • Follow all post-op instructions provided by your surgeon
  • Attend any follow up appointments
  • Refrain from sexual intercourse until cleared by your surgeon
  • Use pads or liners until your doctor clears you to use tampons
  • Wear loose fitting underwear and bottoms until fully healed
  • Instead of wiping with toilet paper, irrigate the area with warm water (try using a squeeze water bottle)
  • Use a doughnut pillow when sitting during the first week to minimize pressure
  • Plan on being out of work for at least a week
  • Get plenty of rest, especially for the first 2-3 days following the procedure
  • Avoid touching the incision sites unnecessarily
  • Use a cold compress (20 minutes on, 20 minutes off) to relieve pain, swelling, or itching
  • Eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water
  • Refrain from smoking or drinking alcohol
  • Only use pain medication as directed
  • Once cleared by your surgeon, shower instead of taking a bath
  • Consider using a doughnut pillow for sitting

How Long Until You See Results?

Everyone heals at their own pace. You’ll begin to see the new shape of your labia within 2 weeks as your swelling subsides and your incisions heal. It will take approximately 3 weeks before you can return to exercise, sexual activity, and baths.

Some women experience residual swelling for up to 6 months after the procedure. Following the above preparation and recovery tips, and above all the advice of your doctor, will help reduce this risk.


Chuma Chike-Obi, MD

Chuma Chike-Obi, MD completed a 6 year residency with the Division of Plastic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and Affiliate hospitals in Houston, Texas. Dr. Chike-Obi specializes in cosmetic surgery, including facelift, blepharoplasty, breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty, and reconstructive breast surgery.


19 Responses to “Labiaplasty Recovery: Timeline + Tips”

  1. Avatar Michelle says:

    I am thinking about having a vaginal rejuvenation treatment done on me. One of my concerns is the downtime to it. It is good to know that within 3 weeks I can exercise again.

    • Avatar Babette says:

      Hey there,

      I jus thad mine done (3 weeks ago) and CANNOT confirm that exercise is possible at this point. It really depends on how much was taken off and how swollen it was et cetera, so it is very specific to the individual case. I was able to sit without pain and strain on the sutures around 16 days after the surgery – that is nowhere near what it says on many websites (“you can go back to work after two days” etc.). It stopped “spotting” (i.e. little blood spots) around the same time, ~2.5 weeks after surgery. I got the stitches removed today and it is still very tender and I sit exclusively on a donut pillow, because it is still uncomfortable. I doubt I will be able to go running or anything similar until the full six weeks are up. So make sure to discuss this with your surgeon in advance and have a buffer period in case it does take longer for you than it does for others.

  2. Avatar Gerty says:

    Thank you for explaining that after 6 weeks post surgery, you should be about 90% healed. My friend has been wondering how long after surgery it would take for her to heal. It’s good to know that it won’t be too long after and she can get back on her feet quickly.

  3. Avatar Sophia says:

    I underwent labiaplasty early last year. For me, recovery was actually not as bad as I thought it would be. I had some pain for the first week, but nothing that was unmanageable. After a few weeks everything subsided and I could see the final result. I feel more confident in my bathing suit and my husband says he can feel the difference during intercourse. So I’d say it was well worth it!

  4. Avatar Shavonne says:

    I am a mother and this helped me!

  5. Avatar Drz. Wiebel says:

    What a great factual post, I’ll definitely share with my patients here in Colorado!

  6. Avatar Kel says:

    I am on the waiting list to have it done just wondering how long does it take roughly (NHS)

  7. Avatar Anna says:

    I’m on my 4th day after having the surgery done and I have to say… it’s been really tough for me, very hard to walk, almost impossible to sit and I can’t sleep well either so read on how to treat the wound before getting the surgery and prepare yourself

  8. Avatar Megan says:

    Ever since I was in my early twenties I wanted to get a labiaplasty done, but after having my three children I now decided that I want to take the next step. It’s interesting to know that it takes around weeks to be almost completely healed, but after the first week, most patients no longer require pain medication. I am going to start looking for a reputable plastic surgeon, but I first wanted to know how the process works.

  9. Avatar Alex says:

    I am on day 6 of recovery and it has been a way easier recovery than I expected, it has been amazing and I am so happy I went thru with the procedure. The procedure took about 15-20 minutes, I just did local freezing and I walked without pain afterwards and drove myself home. The only thing I was nervous about was going pee after my surgery, but I didn’t experience any burning what so ever while using the bathroom during my recovery. I’ve been icing, using polysporin and taking medicine as per what the surgeon recommended. Very minor swelling and pain, I take it slow while walking or in the process of getting up and sitting down but it is more slight discomfort than any form of pain. I try to lay in bed without pants as often as I can with my legs slightly spread open so the wounds get a lot of oxygen. I am experiencing minor drainage and bleeding and that’s about it. Everyone’s recovery is different, but from my experience so far I would definetly recommend it anyone who is interested in it to get it, so far it has been beyond worth it and a peaceful recovery for something that seemed like such an invasive surgery. So excited to see my results in the next few weeks!

  10. Avatar Gen says:

    I had this surgery done in Feb 2012. Since about Jan 2020, my scars have been extremely itchy and even painful. I have ruled out vaginal infections and STI’s. From the scratching, my scars are becoming more prominent. My recovery from the surgery went very well, and I haven’t experienced this sort of symptom since the healing process was complete. What is happening?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Gen,

      We’re sorry to hear about this issue, but we greatly appreciate you sharing it with our community of readers. You may want to discuss this with you gynecologist. And sooner rather than later to minimize the scratching, that can definitely result in damage or making any scars more visible.

      I’m not sure if it would be related to the surgery as it’s been some time since that was performed. So we would recommend that you start there. However, your physician should be able to pinpoint if there is any connection after performing an exam.

      We hope that helps!

      Thanks,
      WD Staff

  11. Avatar Charlotte says:

    After considering this procedure for 15 years I am now 11 days post surgery which I had privately in the U.K. (cost was £2,700 if anyone is wondering). I had the procedure done under a local anaesthetic. Procedure itself took just over 2 hours. After the initial discomfort of the injections I didn’t feel a thing!
    The first 4 days after my surgery were pretty painful to be honest. I was VERY swollen unable to walk properly as I had to keep my legs so far apart and unable to sit down or wear anything on my bottom half.I found putting towels down on my bed and just resting was the only way to improve. I showered as normal to keep the area clean (especially after going to the loo). Pouring some warm water on the area whilst weeing also helped.
    I was checked yesterday. No signs of infection, no bleeding and everything is showing signs of healing nicely. I am a lot more comfortable, pain is almost gone and I’m able to sleep better but I am still very swollen. The skin is still bruised and feels quite firm in that area and I’m still walking a bit like John Wayne. Using an ice compress has really helped! I can see a huge improvement already and I’m so excited to see the outcome when everything is healed.
    My advise is book time off work, have someone there to look after you (you will absolutely need it!) Have some cushions ready for under your legs at bedtime and expect the first few days to be very unpleasant. Hope this helps anyone considering the treatment!

    • Avatar Lauren says:

      Currently on my 5th day since I had the procedure done, I found your tips relatable and helpful! These first few days of recovery have been very painful, I have been positioning my legs apart and laying down hasn’t been the comfiest. My body muscles are aching and in pain because of this, my neck especially. Just been wearing lose fitting pants and letting the area breathe. The cleansing bottle they gave me has helped the burning while peeing as well as helping rinse the area. Day 4 I was able to lightly lather and touch the area without shooting burning pain with soap in the shower, touch gently. The bruising looks black but the swelling has gone down and the ice packs have helped to decrease swelling. I’m walking like John Wayne too lol! Walking is hard now! I wasn’t comfortable to sit up until day 4. I wish I took it easy the day after surgery, maybe I would be having a smoother recovery; I’ve had nausea, vomiting, bloating, and headaches and dizziness days after still. Time off from work or study is definitely needed in my experience, and having someone to help care for you during your recovery is definitely recommended as well! Rest is key as well as taking time to recover yourself, eating healthy and drinking lots of water are important too.

  12. Avatar Kristen says:

    I am currently 4 weeks post op. The first five days were by far the worst. The first day when I drove myself home after the numbing wore off I was in excruciating pain and it took the pain meds 3 hours to kick in. I was strictly bed to bathroom for 4 1/2 days. The first night I slept maybe 3 hours total. Even then on day 5 I was still very swollen and couldn’t really sit well. The bruising went away completely around a week and a half. And by my two week check up was gone and the swelling substantially subsided. I went back to the gym after a week with light weights and no serious straining. At week four I am just now able to add some weights to my workout. The area is still very tender and itchy. Even at 4 weeks. And after a long day on my feet I still am swollen. I had skin cut from my labia, above my clitoral hood, and my perineal area so mine was more extensive. They say sex between 3-6 weeks but mine is definitely 6-8 weeks by my surgeon and with good reason as my labia still hurt a bit and I can’t wear tight pants. Overall I am pleased with the surgery outcome and I feel more comfortable already. Just can’t wait to finish healing

  13. Avatar Nashy says:

    Oh my …

    I am on Day 5 post. I still feel a lot of burning sitting down and moving around. Just in general a lot of discomfort. I can’t close my legs and are walking around like a penguin. I have been on painkillers and wash my self after bathroom visit. .. I want to speed up the healing process by maybe using Aloe Vera gel ( from own plant ) and maybe coconut oil ? Also because I feel it’s so dry, it needs some moist ? I don’t know guys – what to you think !?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Nashy,

      Thanks for sharing with our readers! We would probably recommend that you contact your surgeon directly to discuss. Depending on the specifics, they will be able to advise you on how best to move forward.

      Thanks,
      WD Staff

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