Know The Risks. California, CA

After years of severe discomfort from excess...

After years of severe discomfort from excess labia, I finally worked up the courage to discuss my concerns with my Ob/Gyn. He said he would use a wedge technique, and generally speaking, it's a very straight forward procedure. We scheduled for Friday, 1/22 in the outpatient surgery center under twilight sedation. All went as planned during the procedure and immediately after. It wasn't until I got home that things went terribly down hill. I began bleeding heavily within the first hour of being home, saturating a heavy pad every ten minutes or so. My Gyn wanted me to stay put, so he came to the house to check things out. By the time he arrived, I had a spray of blood coming from my right vulvar area. He said he believed my arterial vessel spasmed from swelling and tore. He had us rush to his office to put a stitch in. Unfortunately, he was unable to control the bleeding. Plans rapidly changed and we ended up back in the OR after having 2 units of blood transfused under forced pressure. Fortunately, in surgery he was able to reopen and control bleeding in less than a minute. I spent the night in ICU due to the volume of blood lost. I'm feeling better today, but extremely tired and weak. I feel as if I've been run over by a truck, but I'm alive. I have extreme anxiety about bleeding again. So far, I'm not sure I can say this was worth it. I'm hoping my opinion changes with time. I will continue to update.

Day 3 Post-Op

I'm feeling ok. I'm still not entirely convinced that this was worthwhile. I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt for making a decision based partially on vanity that affected everyone's lives around me so significantly. I'm tired and still feel weak, but it seems to improve each day. Swelling is pretty minimal. I have lots of bruising from bleeding out though. My sutures are to be removed on Thursday. Those are the most uncomfortable part of this all. I feel constant poking, but my surgeon feels healing is much better with removable sutures. I'm hopeful that I feel better about things in the end. I'm uploading pre-op pics and day 2 post-op pics.

Day 2 Post-Op Picture

See picture.

Day 3 Post-Op

Lots of bruising. Minimal swelling. Sutures are the only pain I really have. Still recovering from significant blood loss. Very tired and weak.

Day 3 Post-Op

Lots of bruising. Minimal swelling. Sutures are the only pain I really have. Still recovering from significant blood loss. Very tired and weak.

Day 4

Well I think it's safe to say that I have not lost any feeling down there. My nerves seem to be waking up today, especially in the areas with bruising. Today has been the most painful day yet. The only way I can describe it like when your arm falls asleep when sleeping on it, and then it wakes up with the sensation of ice picks stabbing through it. I have my post-op appointment on Thursday to remove sutures. This new sensation makes me incredibly nervous for Thursday. I'm still very tired from hemorrhaging last week. I'm hoping this goes away quickly as I lead a very busy life. I'm disappointed that a week or so recovery is clearly becoming much more than that. I sat flat today for the first time since surgery. Other than the pins and needles sensation, I have no real discomfort. This is definitely reassuring.

Day 7

It's hard to believe that it's already Day 7. This last week has been quite a blur. I'm still struggling with my energy, having good days and bad days. Afternoons seem to be my biggest struggle. I got my 50+ stitches out yesterday. It was the most painful experience I've ever encountered, and I've naturally delivered two children vaginally with no meds. Needless to say, I'm happy it's done with. My surgeon said that most of my bruising towards the top was from the amount of pressure placed over the artery to keep it from bleeding. And my bruising towards the bottom is from the hematoma. He stated that it could take several months for all of the bruising to resolve. I still get the pins and needles feeling over areas with bruising sporadically, but I'll take sporadic over constant. I've begun doing Epsom salt baths twice a day at the advice of my surgeon. It seems to help a lot with the discomfort. I sat flat for the first time yesterday, and words can't express the joy I felt when I realized no part of my vagina was touching the seat. I can't remember a single time in my life that this is happened. I'm starting to feel that this all was worth it. But I'm not totally decided on that yet. My surgeon said that most patients are taking two pain pills several times a day. I have yet to take more than 3/4 of a pain pill throughout this entire experience. That was definitely encouraging. Today I'm grateful to be alive, and I look forward to the final results.

Day 8

Today was a little better than the last. My energy levels are improving each day, and seem to come in waves. I still feel that's my biggest struggle right now. I'm able to sit, uncomfortably, for short periods of time, finally! The main thing holding me back from sitting more is the pins and needles sensation everywhere there's bruising. I'm still icing throughout the day. And I'm still needing a small amount of pain medication. The combination of the two seems to alleviate most of the pins and needles sensation. Things are looking very messy down there. In an effort to reduce the prickly pain, I attempted to shave. But, I'm unfamiliar with my new structure and it makes me very nervous. So, I will say that shaving was about 60% successful. There's a new discharge coming from the incisions and increased vaginal discharge. I'm unsure if this is because there isn't extra tissue holding it all in, or from the Epsom salt. Surgeon says it's normal and all apart of the healing process. Normal or not, it feels gross. The Epsom salt baths seem to be helping with the swelling quite a bit, however. I'm beginning to recognize some areas now, although I'm still unsure of where certain parts are attached to one another. I'm starting to have some concern over the area just below my clittoral hood. It looks as if it's separated. I'm going to ask my surgeon about this on Tuesday. I'm still off work for an indefinite amount of time. And had the hemorrhage not occurred, I couldn't imagine having to go back in 1 day! I'm anxiously awaiting the healing of my bruising.

Day 9

I woke up today feeling better overall. I didn't need pain medication last night, and I've only needed a half dose once today after a big outing (for lunch). The swelling, although appears the same, feels as if it's gone down significantly by touch. Sitting is becoming a little easier, although not comfortable yet. Epsom baths are still helping quite a bit. I haven't had the pins and needles feeling at all today (knock on wood), and the bruising appears to be fading slightly. I'm becoming more and more excited for the final results with each day that passes.

Day 10

Today was like a night and day difference from the last week. Swelling feels as if it's improved today. Pain is nearly non-existent and I haven't needed any pain medication today. The pins and needles sensation isn't happening today either! Things are still very tender, especially if I move too quickly, or bend or sit the wrong way. Bruising doesn't appear to have changed much today. I have a new pain at the top above my clittoris, where the artery ruptured. I intend on asking my surgeon about this tomorrow at my follow up. Energy levels continue to improve a little each day. I was able to drive today, and this was like a sense of freedom for the first time in 10 days!

Day 11

I had extremely low energy today. It's becoming very discouraging. One step forward, two steps back. Swelling continues to go down on the right. Left side had no changes from yesterday. Bruising continues to fade at the edges. I have new sensations today as the swelling goes down. It seems things are hypersensitive around the vaginal opening, as I would expect so early after surgery. Underwear friction is slightly uncomfortable with this new sensitivity. I'm anxious to know what tomorrow holds. And I'm really hoping to have some energy! The lack of energy is beginning to take a mental toll.

Day 12

My energy improved significantly as the day went on, although I've hit a wall this evening. Swelling increased today due to an increase in activity. Along with the swelling came the pins and needles sensation again. It is NOT fun. My surgeon said that what appears to me as detaching areas around the hood, will actually result in a separate, minor fold when healed. He chose not to compromise the sensitivity of clitoral tissue, which I greatly appreciate. I'll take a small extra fold over loss of sensitivity. Bruising continued to fade slightly today. I'm hoping my energy continues to improve tomorrow. I'm happy with the results so far. I'm just disappointed a life threatening complication had to occur.

Day 13

Energy levels are holding, although I have sporadic lows. Things like showering, blow drying my hair, or making a simple meal are extremely tiring still. I look forward to the exhaustion subsiding. Swelling has increased again slightly today, and I'd imagine this is related to the slight increase in activity as my energy returns. Bruising faded again a little more today. I'm becoming more and more anxious for the final result as each day comes. No new complaints today.

Day 14

I can't believe it's already been two weeks! I feel like I slept the entire first week away. Time is flying by. Today I have new sensations. A slight stinging when I pee (which I've never had, not even on Day 1) and a new vulvar pain (similar to that pelvic floor pain and heaviness felt towards the end of pregnancy). I'm not sure if these new sensations are due to an increase in activity or not. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what was relocated and excised. The wait is never ending! Bruising continues to fade. Overall things just feel foreign down there. Maybe it's just that I'm suddenly aware of it. I'm not sure what to make of it yet. I'm still married to my ice pack and ibuprofen. I'm also taking pain medication only twice a day, once when I wake, and once when I go to bed. Those seem to be the only two times in a day that I feel more pain than I can tolerate.

Day 14

Day 14

Day 14 Photo

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Day 19

I almost feel normal again! I'm at about 85% energy today, which is a significant improvement from my last review. I hope this continues to improve over time. Down there feels so much better than last week as well. My surgeon used non-dissolvable sutures, which were removed on Day 6. Due to the hemorrhage, my surgeon also used dissolvable sutures under the skin. Unfortunately, over the last few days, a few managed to work their way through the tissue. They had to be removed today, which was quite painful. Although, it was almost immediate relief once finished. Sitting feels so much better when compared to my pre-op anatomy. There's no more excessive tissue in the way! My new anatomy feels extremely foreign. Shaving is scary, because I fear what I might cut, especially with the remaining swelling. Things feel different when walking. New parts rubbing on each other, strange feelings from my underwear, and just new sensations altogether. It will take some getting used to. I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and feel that this may have been worth the awful journey. I really look forward to the remaining swelling going down and seeing/feing the final result. My insurance claim processed and surgery was paid at 80%! Ladies, go to your OB/Gyn first before going to a plastic surgeon. Gyns tend to focus on functionality more than aesthetics. Areas of sensitivity were carefully and precisely preserved to avoid any loss in sensation, which I appreciate immensely. Additionally, my Gyn was able to get insurance to cover the procedure. Overall, between the surgical center, anesthesiologist, and my Gyn, I'm paying a little less than $600.

Day 19 Suture Removal

On my right (left side of the picture), you can see the multiple dissolvable sutures under my hood edge that have torn through the tissue. These were cut out today by the surgeon. Ouch!

Day 21

I cannot believe three weeks have already passed since surgery! My surgeon says that I am about where someone would be one week post-op, given the setback from my arterial hemorrhage and second surgery the same day. Things are beginning to feel much less traumatized down there. The bruising is almost completely gone. Things are starting to become itchy along healing incision lines. The pin prick sensations have begun to come and go again. My head is still very swollen on the left side. And my outer lip is still very swollen on the right side. I'm really starting to look forward to the final results. I caught myself feeling like I needed to adjust my yoga pants today so that people wouldn't see my lady parts bulging in certain areas, except I quickly realized I no longer needed to do so! It was such an exciting moment! I thought to myself, "Check it out allllll you want!" Haha! I'm really looking forward to summer and getting to feel normal in a swimsuit! Energy levels are at about 65% today. Hoping tomorrow is better!

4 Weeks Post-Op

Today, I'm 4 weeks post-op. I've returned to work this week. Energy levels are plummeting as I attempt to do more each day. But I know this will improve in time. Swelling is almost gone, with only a little more to go. Bruising is gone for the most part too. Sitting is so much more comfortable. Wearing yoga pants is much more comfortable. Still getting used to the foreign feeling.

5 Weeks Post-Op

I cannot believe 5 weeks have already passed. It feels like it's only been 3 weeks. My concept of time during those first 2 weeks seems non-existent. Swelling has gone down significantly around the vaginal opening and labia majora. Bruising is 97% gone. Just a faint purple remains in the prior violently dark purple, bruised areas. Another stitch used to tie off the artery has popped through the outer side of my hood. I have an appointment next week to have this removed. I wore jeans for the first time a few days ago. I was amazed how comfortable they were, with nothing being smashed. I'm able to sit and work a full day. Walking is comfortable, with the exception of the stitch. I was specifically advised to avoid sex until the remaining internal sutures dissolved or broke through the skin, since they were giving me problems--so no sex as of yet. I'm really happy with the results. I found myself nitpicking every little detail for weeks, and I had to remind myself that the reason I did this was because of the discomfort. Aesthetics were a bonus. Once I came to terms with that, I became extremely happy with my results. I not only feel better, but I look like the average woman down there. This has been quite a journey, but I'm very happy I did this in the end.

6 Weeks Post-Op

I can't even wrap my mind around the fact that it's been 6 weeks! My vagina is beautiful! It far exceeds my expectations going into surgery. It makes the horrible journey so worthwhile. Sitting on hard surfaces isn't uncomfortable, as it used to be. I had sex today for the first time since surgery, very carefully of course. I tore superficially at the bottom of the opening where sutures were previously, which I definitely felt at the time it happened. Fortunately, I had no bleeding from the tear. Sex was uncomfortable because things are still healing from the trauma of the second surgery and deeper bruising. Although, I will say that it was a HUGE improvement from pre-op status. I really look forward to the final product. And the more time goes on, the more excited I become. I'm really happy with the results this far!
My OB/Gyn

Truly an incredible doctor, surgeon, and human. So grateful to him for providing the utmost quality care and for saving my life from hemorrhage.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
5 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
5 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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