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Vaginal tightening, or vaginoplasty, is a reconstructive operation to rebuild the pelvic floor after the vaginal tissue and muscles have been subject to severe stretching, as well as the perineal body at the entrance of the vagina.
Usually this is as a result of childbirth, the ageing process, or quite often both. The procedure strengthens the muscles, providing more strength, tone and control, helping to ease stress incontinence and heighten sexual experience.
But how long does it take to recover after vaginoplasty? When can sport, sex and other physical activities resume? And how can you aid the healing process? We will answer those questions here.
The key is to take it easy in the first 48 hours following vaginoplasty. We would expect a patient to be reasonably mobile within one day of vaginoplasty. But we would recommend periods of rest to help the body to heal. Sleep has been proven in many studies to help with muscle repairs and as the vagina is mainly made up of muscle, getting ample rest will help with recovery. It is recommended that a vaginoplasty patient sleeps on their back for four weeks after surgery.
Generally there will be swelling, soreness and some bruising after surgery which should subside in a week or two. Any pain or discomfort can be controlled with painkillers. After a couple of days we would expect a patient to be able to walk around comfortably.
To help aid the healing process, the application of ice packs will help to bring down the swelling in the genital area and wearing loose clothing is recommended in order to avoid rubbing and irritating the site of the surgery, causing further discomfort.
With regards to washing, a patient can shower one day after surgery, using warm water. In order to maintain good vaginal health, scented and antibacterial soaps should never be used. Unscented soaps can be used in the external area, such as the vulva. Baths should be avoided, along with hot tubs and swimming pools, during vaginoplasty recovery. The surgeon will issue specific guidelines with regards to intimate hygiene following vaginoplasty.
Any stitches will dissolve over the course of a few weeks, so there is no need for them to be removed, although patients are required to attend a one week post operative wound care appointment with a specialist nurse here at the Cadogan Clinic.
Please note that we do not use any vaginal mesh in our vaginoplasty treatment.
It is not uncommon to experience altered sensation following vaginoplasty treatment. This may either manifest in increased sensitivity or discomfort, or the loss of any feeling at all (numbness) in the area. These changes in sensation usually occur for a few weeks following surgery. However if they persist a patient should inform their consultant - in some rare cases, these changes in sensation may be permanent. However we would like to stress that this is rare and there are no specific risks to be concerned about. The surgeon will explain the vaginoplasty procedure to you in detail at your consultation.
It is important not to rush to return to physical activity following vaginoplasty. If a patient tries to do too much too soon, they run the risk of injuring or irritating this intimate area, delaying healing. During the recovery process, strenuous activities and lifting heavy weights or straining during bowel movements should be avoided as these can put the pelvic floor muscles under a great deal of pressure.
Driving should be completely avoided until one week after a vaginoplasty. Exercise, including going to the gym, should be paused until two to four weeks after surgery.
Sports such as horse riding, cycling or jogging, which may cause strain or friction at the site of the surgery, should also be avoided for six weeks. Saunas are not recommended for at least two months.
We would expect a patient to be fully recovered by six weeks following a vaginoplasty. At six weeks, a patient should also be able to return to work.
A patient should follow aftercare instructions as a failure to do so could delay the healing process. Our surgeon will discuss this in detail during the initial consultation.
Here at the Cadogan Clinic, we offer 24/7 on call nurse assistance following surgery, meaning patients have access to the very best medical care and advice during the recovery period.
We recommend a patient stops smoking, drinking and/or taking aspirin or certain other medications prior to surgery as this can also affect, or slow down, the healing process. The surgeon will guide patients when they can resume these post-surgery.
Restricted penetrative sexual activity can be resumed six weeks after surgery. But once again, this is an activity which should be avoided until the patient feels they are completely ready in order to avoid any potential pain or discomfort. It may be a good idea to wait as strain and friction during sex could cause wounds to reopen.
It is important that the vagina is sufficiently lubricated for intercourse, so foreplay is important. For women who suffer from vaginal dryness as a result of cancer treatment, menopause or as a side effect of certain contraceptives, it is imperative that they invest in some water, silicone or oil-based lubricant. It is also worth bearing in mind that there are plenty of non-penetrative sexual activities which may be kinder on the body at this time. Speak to a surgeon for advice on when and how to restart sexual activity.
Tampons and other internal sanitary protection should also be avoided for two weeks after surgery. Sanitary towels or other external sanitary protection, such as period pants, should be used instead to avoid irritating or causing any damage to the vagina.
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