Details related to the time you will spend in hospital after surgery and your post-operative plan will depend on your surgical site. Ask your surgeon for details related to your recovery.
You will likely receive painkillers and antibiotics to prevent infection. Your surgeon will provide you with a list of medications to avoid for the first month. Do not resume taking hormones until your surgeon has advised you to do so.
During the healing process, you can expect:
- bleeding from incisions during the first 48 hours following surgery
- itchiness and small shooting electrical sensations as nerve endings heal
- bruising, which can spread from your belly to your thighs and which takes 3 to 4 weeks to settle down
- a bit of spraying when you urinate, which usually improves over time
- swelling of your labia, which can take up to 6 weeks to resolve
- your vulva to approach its final appearance at 4 months
- numbness, which will improve over the first few months, and can take up to 18 months to resolve
- red, dark pink or purple scars, which take up to one year to fade
The number of check-ups needed varies from person to person. If possible, see your primary care provider about a week after you return from surgery and then every 2-4 weeks for the first few months. When you visit your surgeon or primary care provider, they should check your surgical sites to make sure there are no infections or wound healing problems. They will ask questions about bleeding, fever, pain and how you are feeling emotionally and physically.
Recovery time varies from person to person, so always follow the advice of your surgeon. Many people begin to feel more comfortable during the second week after their surgery. You'll need plenty of rest in the first two weeks. It's common to be back to your usual activities, including work, in six to eight weeks. Some activities, such as driving, heavy lifting, exercise, sex, and soaking in hot tubs, may be restricted in the post-operative period. Your surgeon will give you advice about when it is okay to resume these activities. Complete recovery can take up to one year.
A surgical revision of a vulvoplasty, if needed, would typically take place 6 to 8 months after your surgery is complete. With a letter of recommendation from your surgeon stating the revision is medically necessary, the cost of your revision will be covered by the BC MSP.
Common reasons for a surgical revision include:
- To adjust the size, shape, location or hooding of the clitoris
- To adjust the size or shape of the labia minora or majora