I am over the moon with my results. I went into this with great trepidation and nervousness. Dr. Gerber and his team were caring, professional and empathetic throughout. I should have done this sooner.
I`m hoping this will help someone in their research of whether to proceed with labiaplasty/vaginoplasty. I am over the moon with my results, but it does come at a cost.
The purpose of this blog is to let people like me find out the detailed experiences throughout the whole procedure and recovery period. The details and photos will be extremely graphic and a bit gory. (More photos under the photos tab). However, I believe the key is to go in prepared, making an informed decision.
At the end of the day, despite what you are about to read and my nasty experience, I am so happy I went ahead with the procedure. I am now one month postop and love my results. I would not hesitate to do it again.
Why? Since I was a child, my inner labia have always been somewhat stretched looking. They sort of hang exterior of the labia majora when standing with my legs together. I wish I had taken some before photos to compare, but didn’t. I will ask for the one that the doctor took, but that was with the labia laid out against my skin while sitting in stirrups. But, you will get the idea.
Now, I look much better (no hanging skin), and I feel more confident to share how I look intimately (with my partner). I’m no longer afraid of what a new sexual partner will feel when they put their hands down there for the first time -- a fear I have had since I first became sexually active. No one has ever said anything to me. But, I knew there was room for improvement. It has always been a nagging feeling that prevented me from being confident intimately or when naked. I believe it has affected my entire sex life. (I’m now 43.)
Emotions/Feelings over the past month:
The feelings and emotions I have felt at different times throughout the last month were like the worlds biggest roller coaster. They ranged from:
(before the procedure)-- excitement, eagerness, nervousness
(during the procedure)-- nervousness, lack of control, sadness, regret, anger (at myself and at the doctor for doing this to me, as unfortunately, it never crossed my mind that something could go wrong during the procedure), pain – sharp (which I will get into later)
(after the procedure until Day 5) -- feeling mutilated, worry, regret, sadness, exhaustion, soreness along the incision line, irritation from the sutures, feeling very sorry for myself, hesitation, feeling the need to escape, dread and panic about having to get the sutures out – I could not imagine more sharp poking and pulling. However… (see next paragraph).
(Day 6 and later) – Relief!! once the sutures were removed. I could walk normally again! Fantastic. Amused that I had anger just a few short days ago, excitement started brewing again as the swelling and bruising went away, happy, no regrets! Liberated!
The Procedure: What an experience.
Something I did not think about much was the sharp needle pain of the local anesthetic. (SEE TIPS BELOW.) Some people can handle it and really are not bothered by it, but it was very uncomfortable to me. The doctor has to inject up and down both sides of the labia, perhaps 10 injections (maybe less, but that's how it felt). He also injected very close to my clitoris – both sides, which was very painful – and I didn’t understand why he would go up so high. I nearly jumped out of the chair. Obviously the whole area needs freezing. Also, unfortunately due to the length of surgery in my case (trimmed from bottom to top), throughout the procedure the anesthetic began wearing off and I could feel the suture needles going through my skin, causing me to require more local anesthetic needles (ouch) and increasing the swelling.
I understood the procedure was to take about half an hour, but it took closer to an hour and a half. The reason is because the doctor had trouble suturing my skin back together on the first side he excised. He said my skin was very thin, and that made it difficult to suture. Unfortunately, this delay caused increased swelling to the other side, which was yet to be done. When I checked this first side after the fact - when I dared to look, I became worried that perhaps too much skin was cut off – and that was causing the difficulty? (Panic set in at this point of the surgery, and not normal thoughts crossed my mind that I had made a huge mistake – what if I would have chronic pain from this point forward from an injured clitoris? What the hell was I doing here? What if this man with a scalpel in his hand was butchering me on purpose? These were delusional thoughts, but it was a very tough moment for me - having relinquished all control.) (P.S. All good now! He knew exactly what he was doing.)
After getting the additional local anesthesia on the second side, and completing the excision of the excess skin, the relentless suturing, the job was finally done! I was told to remain in the examining room and ice the area for an hour to ensure I was ok. I then had to drive myself home (stupidly/stubbornly I did not arrange a ride home, as I did not want anyone to know about this procedure). It was the longest drive home of my life.
That night after arriving safely home several hours later, I knew the time was coming where I would need to pee. I was dreading it. So I had a bath with a little bit of Johnson’s Baby liquid soap. I don’t think you are supposed to bath the same day, but I needed to pee and was terrified. RELIEF - No pain. ?
The next few days I took very easy, mostly staying in bed to prevent swelling. My doctor provided me with some narcotic-type medication, Tramacet. I used it once or twice a day -- usually before bedtime to help sleep. I did not finish it all. I also took antibiotics from the day before surgery until Day 5. He gave me an antibiotic cream, but suggested only applying it once a day to help prevent swelling and scarring. I took a lot of baths and lathered on a lot of Vaseline to help keep the skin suture line soft. I used ice packs a lot. The incision line was sore and the sutures felt very tight, particularly up at the clitoris. It just didn’t feel quite right. I kept wondering why they were so high up in there. Anyway, I was dreading Day 5, where I was to return back to the doctor’s office for these tight nasty sutures out. I could not fathom physically, emotionally, mentally having further sharp poking in that sensitive sore area. On Day 5, despite my fears, I did show up at the doctor’s office for (balance of) sutures out. I iced the area for about 15 minutes beforehand and the sutures out really were not that bad. In fact, once the sutures are out – I felt complete relief. I could walk normally again. The tightness and irritation was gone. Had I known that beforehand, I would have had fewer hesitations. By this time, a lot of my swelling and bruising was dissipating and everything was starting to look a lot more normal. Life continued as normal from this point, and it was just a matter of time to heal. I now finally felt like I had made the right decision. I started to get excited again about what I would eventually look like.
I am currently one month exactly postop. It was a horrendous short-term experience. However, I have been feeling great since about 2 weeks. I was working out in the gym in my second week (taking it easy not lifting anything too heavy). I also had sex (against my doctor’s orders) about 15 days postop – gently and lightly. You are supposed to wait six weeks before intercourse. I have had no issues since.
As I said at the outset, I am very happy with the result and I do not regret my surgery. I would also highly recommend Dr. Gerber for labiaplasty. I liked him. I do wish I had asked more “what if” questions. If you can get this procedure done by general anesthetic, there are pros and cons: no suffering the local injections (my biggest issue) but this comes at increased risk of health issues during general anesthesia, and a longer immediate postop recovery time.
My surgery cost me $4000+. It is now over and done with and I am more confident with my body and look forward to intimate moments, as opposed to being nervous about them, wondering what my partner is really thinking.
12 IMPORTANT TIPS FOR LABIAPLASTY/VAGINOPLASTY
***These are tips I wish I personally had known -- however -- always follow your doctor's orders.***
12. Taking one or two pain pills a half hour PRIOR to the surgery (I did not, but wish I did). Perhaps, something like Advil (which also has anti-inflammatory properties) or something stronger if you have it.
11. Empty your bladder completely minutes before surgery, and don’t drink much – this is to give you lots of time before you have to have your first pee after the procedure.
10. Have someone else drive you home after the procedure, whether it be a friend, family, or taxi. I drove myself in rush hour, and regret it. It would be good if you could recline your seat to help prevent swelling.
9. If you are having stinging/burning when you pee, do it in the bath, or pour warm water over the area while you are peeing. I was dreading urinating after the surgery, as I was expecting burning/stinging over the raw incision line. In fact, I held it so long then decided to go in a warm bath to pee. It was such relief. (I did this pretty much every time for the first two days – I had a lot of baths.) I would use a small amount of Johnson’s Baby liquid soap as bubble bath, so no harsh soaps that could irritate the incision.
8. Vaseline. Smother the entire area 4 times a day with Vaseline. This helps keep the skin soft.
7. Have faith over the first few days. Those are the worst. The swelling, sutures, discomfort, bruising and appearance really make you regret this procedure. However, it does get better. Once you get those nasty sutures out, everything improves quite quickly.
6. Get the sutures out early (4 or 5 days). My doctor was very adamant about having the sutures out on Day 4 (or 5 at the latest). This is his secret to help prevent scarring and prevents the sutures embedding into the skin (which makes it more painful to remove). Mine were removed on Day 5 – Monday, as he was closed/busy on the Sunday. If your doctor allows, I would also recommend playing with the sutures as much as possible right from the beginning as tolerated - to help keep them from embedding in your skin—I did this every time I was in the bath. Just touch them lightly, move them very gently. Don’t forget to ice the area immediately prior to sutures out.
5. Do not expect perfection. In my research, and at my consultation, I tended to want to view only those patients who had a beautiful outcome. I did not ask to see those that did not turn out perfectly. He did warn me not to be concerned with the appearance in the first few days postop (Boy was I concerned - which drove me nuts unnecessarily). Ask what risks or complications could occur. I never considered problems that could arise during the procedure, or the catastrophic (delusional) feeling of being butchered. The pictures will show you, his amazing skill with this procedure. He knew exactly what he was doing. IT GETS BETTER! Don't panic like I did initially.
4. In this same light, try not to inspect your results with any true meaning in the first five days or so. It is not any similarity to what your final results will be after the swelling, bruising, and sutures have been removed from the picture. I’m a need to know person, so I was way too obsessed with every moment of healing – this is not a good thing. I hope you have more patience than me and delay your check of your appearance to one or two weeks postop -- things will look so much better.
3. Take it easy. I was in bed for 3 days. Then I was up but took it easy on the fourth day. I was back at work A-OK on Day 5 (once the sutures were out). No one knew any different. I was able to walk normally. I just had to consciously sit gingerly, which no one noticed.
2. Ask questions at your consultation/assessment. Ask exactly where the incision will be made, where will the local injections be made exactly. Make them point so you can feel it exactly. If something doesn’t feel quite right, make it known how you want it to be done. Or ask why. Ask to see pictures of good results and not so good results they have done recently.
1. Ice. Ice. Ice. Three critical stages need ice. A) Immediately before your surgery. Take about 10 or 15 minutes to ice the area – while in the surgical suite/office. This will make the injections of the local anesthetic more bearable. A second benefit is it will help reduce the swelling. I wish I had this idea a month ago. B) This is a given: immediately after and for the next day or so. I used a small sandwich baggie and filled it half with ice, I then wrapped it with paper towel and put it right into my pants. They advise not to put ice right on the skin, as freezing can kill the skin. C) Right before sutures out. I was dreading more sharp poking, so I iced the area for about 15 minutes until it felt almost numb, and it really was not so bad. A little bit of pulling, but quite relieving after the fact. (I hope Dr. Gerber suggests this to his patients in the future.)
I really hope this helps someone in their research. I wish you good luck either way. I bet you are beautiful down there just as you are. I, however, am happy and believe it will help my sexual confidence and relationships, and wish I had done this earlier. I would love to hear from you and your thoughts and experiences.
Labiaplasty before and after pictures. Also see http://www.makemeheal.com/pictures/vagi ... hic-a14573