Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure that reduces the labia minora. It may be performed for aesthetic reasons to reduce prominent labia minora or to address asymmetry, as well as to reduce associated discomfort. Labiaplasty is most commonly performed under local anesthetic given the limited surgical site. This may eliminate risk of nausea post-operatively and other side effects of general anesthetic. Patients often ask regarding anticipated discomfort of labiaplasty, both during and after the procedure. It may be helpful to answer this frequently asked question – “how painful is labiaplasty?” – based on the following stages:
Anticipated discomfort during local anesthetic infiltration
Given the limited region of surgery, labiaplasty may be safely performed under local anesthetic. This offers many advantages, including avoidance of risks associated with general anesthetic (e.g. nausea, vomiting, and other side effects). Following a general anesthetic, it is required to stay with a companion for at least 24 hours for patient safety. Patients may recover on their own following local anesthetic if desired, as well as travel to and from surgery alone. Anesthetic fees are also reduced. The downside of local anesthetic for labiaplasty is the discomfort experienced during infiltration. It is recommended for patients to apply topical anesthetic cream to the site an hour pre-operatively . This may reduce discomfort as the local anesthetic is performed. The local freezing is infiltrated within 10-15 seconds through limited injections at the site. Labiaplasty is one of the most common cosmetic procedures performed in Dr. Power’s practice and all patients have tolerated the local anesthetic well. General anesthetic has not been required in any cases despite varying levels of anxiety regarding the local anesthetic injections.
Discomfort immediately following surgery
The local anesthetic gradually wears off within a few hours of surgery. This stage carries the greatest anticipated discomfort during labiaplasty recovery. To ease this transition, it is recommended to take the first dose of prescription pain medication (most commonly two tablets of Tylenol #3) upon return home before the local anesthetic has fully worn off. This may provide a bridge as the local anesthetic resolves. Once resting comfortably at home and performing cold compresses, patients may then gauge their discomfort and take the prescription pain medication only as required (not to exceed two tablets of Tylenol #3 every four hours).
Discomfort during early healing
Discomfort gradually improves over a few days post-operatively. Patients generally do not require prescription pain medication after a couple of days. It is recommended to wean from the prescription analgesia as soon as possible. Tylenol plain or extra-strength may be taken as needed during early healing. Soreness gradually resolves over a few weeks following surgery. If any discomfort persists, Dr. Power will discuss scar massage, which may help to desensitize these regions as scar maturation completes over one year post-operatively.
Labiaplasty is a common plastic surgery procedure that may be performed under local anesthetic with minimal discomfort. Please contact us if considering labiaplasty in the Toronto area to schedule a consultation with female plastic surgeon, Dr. Stephanie Power.