28 and Labiaplasty at Long Last - New York, NY

Hello Everyone! I am here to share my tale of...

Hello Everyone! I am here to share my tale of labiaplasty. I am only 12 days post-op so I am not yet close to the final result (my surgeon says 6 weeks), but I thought it might be helpful to share with others a bit about the process and my process.

Background: My labia had been plaguing me since puberty. Everything was happening normally in early adolescence; I even remember a 6th grade class camping trip where I felt proud to change clothes in front of my girlfriends, showing off my new pubic hair (that I would soon grown to resent). Suddenly, in 7th grade, my right labia began to noticeably grow. I informed my mother who stated this was normal and everyone's body is different. The right side plagued me through high school, causing me to shy away from relationships with boys. This continued through college, even within the confines of a serious relationship, as I never felt fully comfortable naked, even by myself. A labiaplasty operation was a "pie in the sky" because of the high cost, though I read a lot about it during my early 20s. My mid 20s was spent continuously poor (grad school) and I tried my best to accept my body. Coming into my later 20s I realized that it really wasn't about whether a guy would accept me, as many had, but I didn't accept it. It was I who felt uncomfortable in tight fitting clothing, rode my bike awkwardly, turned the lights out during sex, and turned away whenever I attempted exposure therapy on myself by taking a mirror down there. It was then, I knew, that if I were to get labiaplasty it would be for the right reasons; it would be for me.

Luckily I live in New York City and there is no shortage of plastic surgeons here. I did a lot of research online, some emailing with practices, and picked one on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. I will input her name in here once I am further into my post-op. She has been wonderful and really sold me during the consultation. She has a lot of experience and began the surgery as a reconstructive surgery during the 60s. At no point did I ever feel pressured and she again reinforced the fact that there is no "normal" for labia. The cost is really contingent on what exactly you're getting done down there. When I had emailed them prior to my consult regarding an estimate, they said about $4500. I ended up paying $5100... this includes the consult, photos, surgery, and all the follow-up. She will also revise, at need be, at no extra cost. She and the nurse that worked with her have been very available throughout the process (emailing on weekends) which is very reassuring when you're home alone with a stinging vagina and waddling like a duck around your apartment.

The surgery: The surgery took a while. I have read some reviews that said 30 minutes to an hour but mine was nearly 2 hours. I had to pee very badly towards the end. The nurse told me the doctor is a perfectionist and when we're dealing with my lady parts that's fine by me! I also didn't only have the right labia done but also the crulla (sp?) which is the part that extends to the top of your vagina, as that was also larger on the right side. On the left side, the crulla is nicely hidden within my left labia majora, however the bottom of the labia was trimmed as it poked out. My doctor did not use a laser nor the wedge method, and instead reduced the labia in the periphery so it sustains a natural look. Throughout the surgery she was very encouraging and talkative which helped ease my nerves (I did local anesthesia so I was awake). After she stitched me up the nurse showed me how to clean myself and what to expect in the coming days. So far their timelines have been fairly correct. The first two days were the worst -- stinging and walking was a pain -- so bed rest and icing are pertinent. I took tylenol, never needed anything stronger. Pouring water over myself as a I peed reduced stinging. They also gave me a topical numbing cream and spray bottle of saline solution for after I peed. By the 5th day post-op I could walk around normally (as they said), take the subway, sit normally, etc. The swelling began to remit after the first week, however more work was done to my right side and so the swelling is taking longer to subside. I still randomly get a little bleeding, but this is normal. I had a follow up today (12 days post-op) and she said everything is healing together nicely but that I can't exercise yet as we want the swelling to remit more. That is frustrating, but normal. I am to check-in with her in another week to get the okay on exercising (yoga, running). I will update then.

2nd Revision Labiaplasty - December 2015

Hello Everyone- So I am fresh out of my 2nd revision (my 1st revision was in March and my original surgery was in September 2014). As you might guess, I am ready to put labial surgery to rest. My vagina is a product of the trim method. If you read my original post, my original surgery targeted both left and right labia minora; while my 1st revision addressed extra tissue on the right to create better symmetry with left (If you look at the Questions I've posted, you can see what I mean). Today's surgery, my 2nd revision, addressed still standing extra tissue on right, as well as residual tissue from my previously large labia near my vagina. Sometimes this tissue would rub and become irritated/inflamed; it was as if it was "left over" from the initial surgery. My surgeon explained that without the extra tissue above it holding it in place and also helping take the brunt of movements, etc, it was more exposed and rubbing more. That sounds pretty abstract and she definitely explained it more articulately, but I hope you get the idea. So, in sum, today's labiaplasty - revision II addressed residual tissue on right side, top and bottom. I'm not sure I will ever have the fully closed, "barbie" (clam?) look I originally pictured/idealized, and my surgeon does not think that's possible without putting my functional anatomy in jeopardy, which is not something I'm willing to do, so I find myself content with this outcome so long as I'm not in chronic pain or something. I am hoping for a relatively seamless recovery as not too much was done. BUT MAN AM I IN PAIN. I'm trying to remember the first couple days are the worst, and it definitely helps to have already experienced the process. My New Years Eve will be memorable, as I'll likely have frozen peas between my legs. Here's to 2016 and hopefully labiaplasty a thing of the past!

Also, my doctor has been pretty good. Once this recovery is through (more or less) I will share her information. She has been doing labial reconstruction since the 70s for people that were in accidents or had genetic deformities, so she's seasoned to say the least. However, as you might have concluded with my not one, but two, revisions, she is conservative with labia reduction. To me, this is not a bad thing because it's such a sensitive area, except multiple surgeries is cumbersome. Her motto was something like "you can always reduce more, but it's very challenging to add more". I also did local anesthesia and since the area swells, you have to be even more cautious about overdoing it. I have appreciated her honesty and sensibility about the limits of my anatomy and her greater knowledge of society's pressure and influence on what we idealize as a "perfect vagina." She wants to meet your needs and wishes, but she will voice her educated and realistic opinion as a medical professional. It's grounding to hear, especially since she is a plastic surgeon and it could be a conflict of interest. For instance today, she snapped a photo pre-op and was like "I want you to see how good it looks" and also confirmed that I really wanted this revision to take a little more. I did. But I can't say I didn't take pause.

Okay that was long-winded but as much as these surgeries are physical, they're quite emotional too. I have felt a boost in confidence from labia reduction and do not regret it; I can sit much more comfortably and more confident in the bedroom. However I think this process takes a lot of mindfulness as it's easy to seek "perfection" - which does not exist because it's socially constructed.

Please ask questions if you have any!

4-Days Post-Op

I've been doing okay. The incision on the bottom near my vagina seems to be healing nicely. Today I noticed the incision line on the right labia minora was oozing blood when I pulled the right majora back (I need to do this in order to see incision). I'm not sure if this is normal; I emailed with my surgeon and she said take it easy and continue to ice/rest, to not worry about infection. I have taken it super easy (more so than with my original surgery). I could be better about icing. Anyway if anyone can let me know how often they bled for that'd be great and if you noticed similar redness and blood along incision 4 days+ post-operatively? It's frustrating because I want to monitor for infection but don't want to keep pulling the skin to check. Any two cents would be much appreciated! PS. I was given saline spray for cleansing but no antibiotic ointment or med.

10 Days Post-Op and Doing Great

So my anxiety ridden last post was unfounded - I went for a check-up the next day and she said all was well. When in doubt, just see your surgeon, or at least call. I realize commute may be an issue for some. I had soreness through Wednesday but on Thursday (8-days post) I could walk, squat, bend, without pain. I think a bothersome suture fell out or scab which might have helped because that was irritating. I can't exercise until 2-weeks post op (so long as I'm given the thumbs up at the 2-week mark by surgeon)...so I'm excited for Wednesday. I ran to the bus stop the other day and did notice a little residual soreness. Though you might feel up to par a week after, you can't be 100% active. Also, mind you, this was a REVISION, so it was less invasive than my primary surgery. I remember being quite sore for a couple weeks without that one. I am finally happy with the results and the swelling diminishes by the day. As this was my 2nd revision and altogether 3rd surgery, I am also felt compelled to accept the outcome.I was also super specific with this surgery so I finally got what I wanted. I wish I had been more specific in my initial consult because I feel that through everything off - my role was somewhat, and voluntarily, passive. BE SPECIFIC WITH YOUR SURGEONS. They will tell you if what you want is realistic and know that a valuable surgeon tends to err on the side of conservative with labial reduction. Will update at 2-week mark with progress.

Finished product -- finally

1 labiaplasty and 2 revisions later here we are. I am grateful some semblance of my labia was retained and that it's not completely a clam. Definitely worth the money if you find a good surgeon. My only issue was that I should have been more assertive with what I wanted from the beginning; I likely wouldn't have had to have a third revision then. Any questions shoot them my way. Xx
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