A vulvectomy is done to remove the vulva or parts of it. The vulva is made up of the genitals located on the outside of a female’s body. These genitals include the clitoris, labia majora, and labia minora.


This is done to remove cancerous cells or growth from the vulva. This may be able to cure vulvar cancer. It can also be done to remove abnormal skin, like warts.

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Possible Complications

The possible complications of a vulvectomy include:

• Bleeding

• Pain or tenderness of the vulva

• Numbness of vulva

• Wound gaping

• Infection

• Blood clots in the legs that can travel to lungs

• Tightness or dryness of the vagina

• Reaction to anesthetic drugs or breathing problems due to anesthesia

• Smoking may increase the risk of complications.

Prior to Procedure

Before the surgery, the doctor may perform a physical exam and review the entire medical history as well as he will order blood tests and imaging studies

During the days before surgery:

• Patient should stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen, warfarin, and any other drugs that make it hard for the blood to clot.

• Ask the doctor or nurse about which medicines are still to be taken on the day of surgery.

• Smoking should be stopped.

• Arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery.

On the day of your surgery:

• Patient is asked not to drink or eat anything after midnight the night before the surgery, or 8 hours before the surgery.

• Take the drugs the doctor or nurse told you to take with a small sip of water.

• A consent form is signed by the patient regarding permission for surgery,


A nurse inserts an IV into the arm. This is used to deliver medications and antibiotics. The pubic hair will be shaved. The nurse will also insert a catheter to drain urine from the bladder.

This surgery is done under general anesthesia. There are several types of vulvectomy surgery. The type of surgery depends on which parts of the vulva and nearby tissue have been affected by cancer or abnormal skin. These types include:

1. Skinning vulvectomy—removal of the top layer of skin

2. Simple vulvectomy—removal of multiple layers of skin and tissue

3. Partial vulvectomy—this surgery removes a part of the vulva, as well as some nearby tissue and lymph nodes

4. Radical vulvectomy—removal of the entire vulva, including nearby tissue and lymph nodes

Once all affected areas are removed, the doctor may need to reconstruct the vulva. If only a small amount of skin was removed, the vulva can be repaired by stitching the remaining skin together. Sometimes, a skin graft may be needed. Temporary drains may be inserted to remove extra fluid or blood from the incision area.

This surgery takes about 1-2 hours for completion.

After the surgery:

The hospital stay depends on the type of surgery. Patient can go home the same day or up to a few days after the surgery.

In the Hospital

Patient is asked to:

• Begin drinking clear fluids and gradually shift to solid food.

• Do breathing exercises to prevent chest infections.

• The catheter and drains may be removed within a week.

At Home

Patient is asked to do the following:

• If there is a dressing, instructions are given for changing and removing it.

• Keep the legs apart.

• After a bowel movement, wipe yourself from front to back.

• Take a sitz bath three times a day and after a bowel movement—A sitz bath is soaking the hip and buttocks area in warm water.

• Clean the surgical area with natural soap or plain warm water.

• Keep the vulvar area dry.

• Wear loose clothing and cotton innerwear.

• Avoid wearing pantyhose or girdles.

• The doctor will let you know when to have sex again.

• Ask the doctor about when it is safe to shower or soak in water.

The doctor should be called immediately if any of the following occurs:

• Signs of infection, such as fever with chills

• Redness, swelling and increasing pain at the vulva

• A lot of bleeding, or discharge from the surgical site

• Burning while urination

• Pain, redness, or swelling in the legs

• Nausea or vomiting

• Abdominal pain, chest pain, or problems in breathing

• Gaping of wound

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