Professor Mark Ashton
MB., BS. MD. FRACS (Plas)
Specialist Plastic Surgeon
Between 2000 – 2016 Professor Ashton was Head of Plastic Surgery at The Royal Women’s Hospital. Within this capacity he established a dedicated Gynaecological Plastic Surgical reconstruction service to address perineal, vaginal and labial soft tissue defects. Furthermore, this service extended its expertise to correct complications arising from botched labiaplasty surgeries performed by surgeons outside of the Royal Women’s Hospital.
The following information is designed to help you understand our process for labiaplasty surgery, including assessment and suitability, and will emphasise essential information to consider before proceeding with surgery.
AHPRA registration number – MED0001135718
What Is Labiaplasty Surgery?
Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure in which the labia are modified or adjusted to correct congenital asymmetry or irregularity in the labia minora; reducing friction during exercise, or pain during sexual intercourse.
Our aim is to provide a comprehensive, informative and personalised patient experience. During the initial consultation process, you will have the opportunity to meet Prof Ashton, our dedicated nursing and administration staff, and our practice manager.
We encourage every patient to seek a second opinion with a qualified specialist plastic surgeon, before proceeding with any surgical procedure.
Your initial consultation with Prof Ashton will require a valid referral from your general practitioner (GP), or other qualified healthcare provider. It is preferable that your referral is from your usual GP, as they will ensure all relevant medical history is included in your referral.
During your consultation, you and Prof Ashton will discuss your treatment objectives, and with your written consent, clinical photos will likely be taken for medical purposes. Mark will assess your medical history to ensure that all suitable and relevant treatment options are thoroughly discussed with you.
Our nursing staff and practice manager will also provide additional information regarding the procedure discussed, to ensure you are well-informed and you understand your choices. You will be afforded adequate opportunity to address any remaining questions prior to leaving our rooms, we are always happy to answer questions you may have.
If you decide to progress with your surgery, after having reviewed the information provided to you during your initial consultation, you will then have a second consultation with Prof Ashton for further discussion. During your second appointment, you will also meet with one of our nurses again to discuss the necessary surgical documentation, including the initial preoperative and postoperative care instructions.
Whilst you might be enthusiastic to schedule your surgery as soon as possible following your second consultation, the current AHPRA guidelines mandate a 7-day cooling off period between your second consultation and booking and paying a deposit to secure a surgical date.
Communication is one of the most important aspects of your labiaplasty consultation process and surgical planning. It allows you and your surgeon the ability to ensure your concerns and the related surgical options have been adequately discussed.
Our bodies are all unique and no two people will have the same results. In our practice, we find most patients invariably have a pre-determined result in mind. Therefore, it is critical you are always afforded a platform to openly and clearly communicate with your plastic surgeon, to ensure they understand the results you are hoping to achieve, prior to your surgery.
What You Must Know Before Considering Labiaplasty Surgery
It is important to understand the risks involved with any surgery. The choice to undergo any surgical procedure, elective or urgent, should be based on the comparison of the potential risks to the potential benefits. Although most patients do not experience severe surgical complications, you must discuss the risks versus the benefits with your surgeon, to ensure you understand all the possible consequences of your planned surgery.
There are risks associated with any surgery, and labiaplasty is not immune to these risks. Some risks are common to all forms of plastic surgery, and others are specific to labiaplasty. If any complications arise, it may be necessary to bring you back to theatre to address and resolve these concerns.
Some of the potential risks relating to labiaplasty surgery are:
- Pain and discomfort
- Temporary swelling and bruising
- Removal of too much skin
- Asymmetry of the labia
- Noticeable scarring
The risk of infection can occur despite using antibiotics in the post-operative period. It appears to be more common in patients who continue to smoke post operatively, or who have comorbidities such as diabetes. There are other specific risks associated with surgery that you should discuss with your surgeon prior to consenting to any surgery.
General anaesthesia is commonly used, however, there is an array of potential complications which can occur during or after general anaesthesia. These complications can be as major as death or brain damage, or as minor as muscle soreness or pain at the site of your cannula. The most common complications are nausea, vomiting and sore throats, and all specialist anaesthetists are trained to avoid and manage complications as they arise.
One of our anaesthetists will be in contact with you the week prior to your surgery to confirm your health status, and answer any questions you may have regarding the anaesthetic and post operative pain management.
As cigarette smoke constricts the small blood vessels within the tissue, smokers have a higher incidence of wound healing problems. In particular, smokers are much more likely to develop wound breakdown and infection. For this reason, it is critical to stop smoking 2 weeks prior to surgery and for 6 weeks postoperatively.
Deep Venous Thrombosis And Pulmonary Embolism
During surgery, there is a risk that blood may accumulate in the veins of the lower legs. Post-surgery, these clots can dislodge from the vein walls of the calves and travel to the lungs, resulting in problems with breathing or even death.
Some medications can increase the risk of deep venous thrombosis. It is essential you discuss your current medications with your surgeon and your anaesthetist prior to surgery.
Please be aware this is not an exhaustive list of potential risks. Every patient responds differently to general anaesthesia and surgery.
Please ensure you discuss the surgical risks with your surgeon prior to moving forward with any surgery.
If I Decide To Proceed, What Can I Expect When I Undergo Labiaplasty Surgery?
Hospital And Admission
We perform all our labiaplasty surgeries at Epworth Freemasons Private Hospital in East Melbourne. If an overnight stay is necessary, each of our patients have a private room with an ensuite. At Epworth Freemasons there are 12 state-of-the-art operating theatres with the latest anaesthetic machines and theatre equipment. There is also 24 hour onsite medical emergency care, with an onsite Intensive Care Unit.
You will need to fast prior to your surgery, usually from midnight the night prior. Your admission paperwork will be provided to you a minimum of 3 to 4 weeks prior to your operation so that any questions you may have can be answered well before your admission.
Labiaplasty Surgery is only performed on our patients by Professor Ashton, a qualified specialist plastic surgeon, and is carried out under the administration of general anaesthesia by one of our accredited specialist anaesthetists.
In addition to your general anaesthesia, local anaesthetic is infiltrated to the labial tissue which aids in minimising blood loss, and ensures you will be as comfortable as possible following your surgery. The incisions are sutured using very fine dissolving sutures, which usually dissolve over 5 to 7 days.
The procedure is typically performed as a day case, although some patients may require, or choose to stay overnight. These options should be discussed with your surgeon.
Following labiaplasty surgery, you will spend time in the Post Anaesthetic Recovery Unit until you are wide awake and feeling comfortable.
You will be reviewed by Prof Ashton prior to being discharged from hospital, and the nursing staff will ensure your discharge medications, usually antibiotics and pain medications, are ready for you. You will also be provided an information bag to take home which contains our afterhours details, as well as the dates and times for your follow up appointments with our nursing team and Prof Ashton.
It is important you rest, and do not work for a minimum of 1 week following your surgery. It is important you keep the suture area clean and dry. You are able to bathe in lukewarm water and use mild soap. We recommend, that you gently towel the area with a clean towel after bathing and urinating, and use a hair dryer on the lowest heat setting to further dry the area after surgery.
It is important that you refrain from wearing tight-fitting underwear, and avoid nylon or synthetic fibre undergarments. We advise that you refrain from engaging in any strenuous exercise or sexual intercourse for a period of 6 weeks following surgery to allow your body to heal. After 6 weeks post-surgery, you can use tampons and resume sexual intercourse if you choose.
During your post-operative period, we will monitor your recovery and progress. We will also provide precise guidance on the level of activity or exercise you should engage in during your recovery.
Recognising each patient’s healing process is unique, our post-surgical care is tailored to accommodate individual needs. We will address any concerns you or we may have, and you will receive thorough post-surgical care from Prof Ashton and our dedicated team throughout your recovery.
Interested In Labiaplasty?