If I could recommend only one post-operative tip to expedite healing after labiaplasty, it would be icing. Applying cold compresses after labiaplasty is beneficial over the first 48 hours. Once arriving home following surgery, I recommend for patients to lie down and apply cold compresses over a thin pad and undergarment. This avoids direct contact between your skin and the cold compress. Since local anesthetic remains in effect for a few hours post-operatively, sensation is altered. It is important to avoid direct contact between the ice and your skin to lower the risk of developing frostbite injury. Once the cold compress has warmed to room temperature, start over with another cold compress and then repeat over 48 hours while awake. Labiaplasty icing serves several purposes:
Labiaplasty icing reduces post-operative bleeding
It is expected to experience some bleeding post-operatively, which should taper over the first few days to only light spotting. Bleeding is reduced during surgery from the local freezing, which also contains epinephrine. This agent constricts blood vessels over the first few hours. Bleeding is also stopped during surgery using electrocautery, which heats the blood vessels to reduce surgical bleeding. Cold compresses constrict blood vessels within the labial tissues once the freezing has worn off. This reduces bleeding at the surgical site during early healing. The weight of the cold compress also applies gentle compression, which further reduces bleeding.
Swelling is reduced by labiaplasty icing
Swelling generally peaks over the first 48 hours post-operatively. Cold compresses are important to reduce swelling during early healing. Swelling places additional tension on the stitches. Labiaplasty icing may therefore lower risk of wound healing complications, wound separation in particular, by reducing swelling.
Labiaplasty icing reduces discomfort
Applying cold compresses also reduces localized discomfort following labiaplasty. This may reduce the requirement for prescription pain medication post-operatively. Patients are generally able to transition to only Tylenol plain or extra-strength within a couple of days following labiaplasty. Labiaplasty icing is an effective technique to reduce post-operative pain.
Labiaplasty icing also ensures activity level is kept to a minimum
It is important to minimize time on your feet over the first few days following labiaplasty. When you are upright and walking around, there is greater risk of bleeding and swelling given that the labial tissues are dependant in standing position. By applying cold compresses when lying down with legs positioned outward, this further reduces risk of bleeding and additional swelling. Walking short distances within your home is encouraged to avoid complete immobilization, but applying frequent cold compresses ensures that activity modifications are followed during early healing.
Please contact us if you are interested in discussing labiaplasty in more detail!