In case you've been put off by horror stories -...
In case you've been put off by horror stories - don't be! I'm 38 with no kids and I finally had my labiaplasty yesterday, after years of being embarrassed about and uncomfortable with my protruding labia. For as long as I can remember I would tuck it away every time I showered or went to the toilet - it was second nature. If I didn't, then it would rub and pinch and and I'd immediately have to 'readjust my bits'. I'd never spoken about it to anyone, but always knew there was a bit too much going on down there. My first boyfriend called it a 'strange creature' - I was even more self-conscious about it after that and researched which surgical procedures would help, this was long before labiaplasties were common.
I came across Dr Kavouni years ago, a highly regarded female surgeon who specialises in this delicate procedure and performs 2-3 a week, I knew I'd found the right surgeon for me. At the consultation I explained that I wanted a tidier appearance, where the 'wings' are removed so the inner labia are neatly tucked away. I have some asymmetry too that I wanted corrected and some excess wrinkly tissue over the clitoral hood. She was very understanding and we discussed in detail the corrections I wanted and whether they were do-able. She prefers a conservative approach and was careful to point out that perfect symmetry is not always possible, and depends on your particular anatomy. She also confirmed that sensitivity would not be affected.
The surgery was booked several months in advance, which allowed me time to save up. In the meantime, I scrutinised all the reviews and poured over all the before and after photos and even printed off an image I found online of the look I wanted, to show Dr Kavouni before the surgery, a picture is so much more effective than trying to describe it. I tried to mentally prepare myself for the pain, and the scary-looking bruising and swelling that tends to occur in this sensitive area. I stocked up on arnica tablets, large pads, painkillers and frozen peas and assumed I'd be perched gingerly on my donut cushion for at least a week afterwards.
I honestly needn't have worried - it was - and still is - completely painless! I was put under general anaesthetic and local anaesthetic was administered too for additional pain relief. When I came round, I fully expected to feel very sore. Nothing. When I eventually went to the toilet to pee several hours later (the drugs had really slowed down my system despite drinking litres of water) I gritted my teeth to confront the horror - and was astonished. No bleeding or oozing, minimal swelling and no bruising at all. There was some spotting, but that was it. If it wasn't for the fact that there were no more dangly bits, I would've assumed nothing had happened. I stayed at the hospital overnight because my blood pressure was quite low and I didn't feel able to get home. I thought maybe I was having a delayed reaction and it would blow up and I'd wake up to carnage down there. But this morning it still didn't look any different. The nurses chuckled at my bewilderment, they said Dr Kavouni's labiaplasty patients all recover very well. FYI she performed the trim method and used dissolvable stitches and a cling-film spray to seal everything - which is peeling away.
I've been prescribed antibiotics and an eye ointment to apply to the pad, to keep the wounds 'soft'. So far this has been a great experience. I can already tell that I'm going to very happy with the outcome once it all settles down. Hoping the remainder of the recovery period goes smoothly.
I had no pain last night and feel totally fine again today. There's still no bruising or bleeding, but I'm sitting on my donut cushion anyway to relieve any pressure on the area. I should mention that I use a squeezey bottle to rinse with warm water every time I pee (the nurses advised against soap). There was some stinging the first 2 times I peed after the surgery, but not since. In the shower I just drizzle my soap-free 'lady wash' on the area then rinse with the shower head. I don't want to disturb the stitches by touching anything. I use disinfectant hibiscrub around the back passage, not that I've emptied my bowels yet. I've eaten so little over the last couple of days, I really need to take movicol today to get all that moving.
I'm still taking arnica, and started taking bromelain and quercetin tablets yesterday (they're not recommended prior to surgery). I calculated last month that I would more than likely have my period on the day of surgery. I have such heavy, painful periods, I didn't think I could cope with that on top of everything else. So I took norethisterone last month to delay my previous period, in the hope that it would then delay this month's period too, which seems to have worked. (I spoke to the doctor about this first, since taking any kind of hormones around surgery is unadvisable due to blood clot risks - which is why I was advised to take it the month before.) Thought I'd mention it in case anyone else is in a similar situation. Incidentally, I didn't have any horrible side effects from the norethisterone fortunately.
My check-up with the nurse is next week. And I'll be seeing Dr Kavouni for a follow-up appointment next month. So far, so good.
Still no pain or bruising, everything seems to be healing well, but I think I have thrush. There's been a steady trickle of white odourless discharge and some reddening (sorry, TMI). Could be due to the antibiotics or irritation from continuously wearing pads. I was prepared for this though and have taken canestan. I've decided to go commando tonight to get some circulation going and it feels better already! Might forgo the pads from now on, since there's been no spotting since the day of surgery.
Thrush is gone! Going commando for the last 24 hours has been great. But decided to put some underwear back on to do a bit of food shopping today. I've had no issues walking around the house, but the 10 minute walk to the shops and back caused a bit of rubbing - and this was whilst wearing granny pants and loose tracksuit bottoms. There was some spotting when I got home, which made me feel bad about aggravating the delicate healing process. I'm clearly nowhere near ready for skinny jeans. Actually the very thought makes me wince. I may have to postpone my Friday night plans, as I don't think baggy sportswear is acceptable attire for anywhere other than the gym.
Had my check up with the nurse today. It felt strange sitting on the train without my donut cushion! She said everything looked really good and was impressed with how well I'm healing. I asked whether I should get some more of the eye ointment because it seems to help prevent itching, but she said it's actually an antibiotic which I'm supposed to discontinue using after one week, or risk getting thrush again. She also advised me to start taking baths with a few drops of Bio Oil to help the stitches dissolve. I'm not a fan of Bio Oil because it contains liquid paraffin among other toxic ingredients, so I'll probably use organic coconut oil instead.
Afterwards, I went for a long walk and did some shopping. It's been great to relieve the cabin fever! Fortunately, there's been no further rubbing or irritation. I'll update again in 3 weeks, once I've had my follow-up appointment with the surgeon.
I hope this review has helped anyone who's feeling nervous about having a labiaplasty. For some reason, there's a misconception that the trim method is more painful and takes longer to heal. As such, I fully expected to experience quite a bit of pain, swelling and bruising, with significant bleeding to start with. But it's been surprisingly straightforward, I honestly found recovering from wisdom teeth extraction more traumatic.
So after just 2 weeks the stitches were fully dissolved and I was back to wearing skinny jeans. I've continued to apply coconut oil at night as I think it will help with scarring, although there's no further itching now the stitches are all gone. The edges of the labia are still a little tender when washing or wiping after going to the toilet, but otherwise, there's no discomfort whatsoever. I can see and feel the lumpy scar tissue, but it's very minimal and should settle with time.
I saw the surgeon today for my 1 month follow up - she said everything looked great and that the remaining 'puffiness' to the edges of the labia would reduce further and the scar tissue would soften up over the next 3-6 months.
I told her how thrilled I am with the results and thanked her for doing such a good job - it's turned out even better than I hoped it would, with such minimal downtime. I'm still getting used to being so streamlined down there - after a lifetime of tucking away dangly bits it's quite odd. But in a good way :-)
If anyone needs a donut cushion, send me a private message and I'll post it to you! (UK only).
10 Dec 2015
3 months post
I have nothing much to report since my last update - everything has healed nicely and the swelling has reduced further. The remaining tenderness whilst washing/wiping was gone by 2 months. I no longer even think about the surgery or feel like I had anything done. It's all a distant memory!
I'm relieved I had such an easy recovery and believe it's due to the surgeon's great skill and some specific techniques she uses - despite being under general anaesthesia, Dr K administered local anaesthetic too which apparently reduces bleeding. She also cauterises the skin after removing the excess tissue. She then uses very fine sutures that don't cause a bulging/lumpy effect. I'm very grateful to her for her attention to detail and in giving me the neat, tidy appearance I wanted.
I believe that having less excess tissue around the clitoral hood has increased sensitivity somewhat, which I wasn't expecting. So that's a bonus! And never having to worry about protruding lady bits that rub and irritate is a big relief. I'm super happy that I was finally able to go ahead with this surgery and get the outcome I wanted :-)