Labiaplasty swelling is most apparent over the first few weeks following surgery. It generally peaks at approximately 48-72 hours after labiaplasty. Here are 4 ways which may help to reduce labiaplasty swelling during early healing:
Cold compresses are the key to reduce labiaplasty swelling
- Applying cold compresses for the first 48 hours or so may be effective in reducing labiaplasty swelling. I recommend for patients to create cold compresses by placing crushed ice in small ziplock bags. These should be prepared in advance so that they are ready immediately when you return home after labiaplasty. It is important to apply the cold compress over an interface, for example, your underwear or a thin towel to lower the risk of developing a cold injury. Immediately following labiaplasty, the region has altered sensation due to ongoing effects of the local freezing. It is important to avoid placing the cold compress directly on your skin for this reason, since it is more susceptible to frostbite injury. The cold compresses should be repeated as often as possible over the first 48 hours until swelling peaks. Once the bag of ice has warmed to room temperature, you should then start over with a new bag and repeat.
- In addition to the cooling effect, cold compresses may further reduce labiaplasty swelling by applying gentle compression to the labia minora and majora region. This reduces how much swelling may accumulate. Both the majora and minora may become enlarged during early healing due to labiaplasty swelling. These planes are continuous and even when labia majora surgery is not performed, the majora still swells. Gentle compression may reduce labiaplasty swelling through direct mechanical pressure.
Resting during early healing
- By resting for the first few days as much as possible, less swelling may develop. This reduces friction at the surgical site. I recommend for patients to walk short distances around the home (from room to room), however lying down and resting as much as possible is helpful to reduce labiaplasty swelling. After a few days, patients may then gently increase their activity level to resume short walks and office-based work, for example. It is important to avoid strenuous exercise and sexual activity for 4-6 weeks following labiaplasty to lower risk of healing complications. Specific recommendations will be made for each patient based on individual healing.
Avoid topical creams that may cause allergic contact dermatitis
- Unless an infection develops – which is fortunately a low risk following labiaplasty – antibiotics are not indicated. Topical antibiotic ointments are not recommended during healing after labiaplasty. Many patients will develop a contact allergic dermatitis following prolonged application of topical antibiotic agents (for example, Polysporin, Neosporin). This contact allergic dermatitis may resemble a wound infection and increase labiaplasty swelling. It may develop in 1 in 10 patients or even higher based on certain studies. For this reason, I recommend against topical antibiotics. After gently washing the region daily with soap and water when showering, I recommend for patients to then perform a thin application of Vaseline to the incisions. This promotes moist wound healing, which may occur more quickly and with lower risk of complications than allowing the incisions to become dry and crusted.
Labiaplasty is generally a well-tolerated procedure with high satisfaction rates confirmed in the literature. By following post-operative wound care instructions and activity modifications during early healing, labiaplasty swelling may be reduced and healing promoted. Please contact us to schedule your consultation if you are considering labiaplasty.