Labiaplasty is the reduction of the labia minor (the inner skin folds around the vagina) and/or the labia major (the outer skin folds around the vagina) for cosmetic, comfort and/or functional reasons. Like all surgeries, the procedure carries the risk of several side effects, some minor and some more severe.
The Potential for Infection
Infection is one of the most common side effects of any invasive surgery. Infection manifests with fever, fatigue and/or excessively red or swollen tissue in the surgical area. The tissue may also be overly tender, painful or hot to the touch. You may notice a foul-serving odor or pus coming from the tissue, but some level of redness, tenderness and discharge may be normal with the labiaplasty procedure.
Infection can get into your blood stream and cause you to need more surgery or hospitalization. If you suspect infection, you should be seen by a doctor immediately. You can reduce your risk for infection by taking your antibiotics as instructed, cleaning the area twice daily with a sitz bath for the first few days and gently wiping the area of white film several times a day.
Painful or Uncomfortable Labia
Sometimes labiaplasty results in a more painful or uncomfortable labia than you previously had, especially if you elected to undergo the surgery purely for cosmetic reasons in the first place. While this is not the case in the majority of surgeries on the labia, it is still a potential side effect if the surgery does not go ideally and the surgeon makes the labia too short or sculpts the tissue in a way that will cause you discomfort or pain.
However, since pain and discomfort are to be expected for a period of two to eight weeks after the procedure, it can be difficult to tell if your labia will be painful or uncomfortable in the long term. During the healing process, some of the layers of tissue may break apart and this can be a normal part of the healing procedure and may relieve some discomfort. You can also begin vaginal stretching exercises at about six to eight weeks after the procedure in order to make the tissue more flexible and less uncomfortable.
Painful or Uncomfortable Urination
A sometimes temporary side effect of labiaplasty is painful or uncomfortable urination. This is largely due to increases sensitivity in the vaginal area and could be a short-term effect that dissipates after six to eight weeks. However, it could also be due to tissue in the labia and around the clitoral hood that has been sculpted incorrectly. You may need additional surgery to correct the tissue if this is the case.
If you are considering labiaplasty purely for cosmetic reasons, you should thoroughly weigh the potential risks versus the potential benefits and decide whether or not you're willing to risk the potential side effects in order to achieve your cosmetic goals. You can reduce your risk for side effects by researching your cosmetic surgeon and listening to her advice during consultation, as well as following your post-operative recovery instructions carefully.