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A vestibulectomy is a gynecological surgical procedure that can be used to treat vulvar pain and specifically in case of vulvodynia and vestibulodynia. Vulvodynia is a chronic pain syndrome. It refers to the severe pain caused in the vulvar area and the causes are usually difficult to diagnose. The symptoms also include burning sensations and feelings of irritation. Buttocks and inner thighs are also affected by vulvodynia. Vestibulodynia is similar to vulvodynia, except that the chronic pain and irritation is present in the vestibule, which is near the entrance of the vagina, while in case of vulvodynia, the pain is localised near the vulva.[1] Vestibulectomy may be partial or complete.[2]

Vulvar vestibulectomy is also used to help people who suffer from provoked vestibulodynia, which causes sexual pain to people with vaginas.[3]

It is considered as an effective treatment for the long-run and has recorded high levels of satisfaction from the patients.[4] In spite of the high successful rates, vestibulectomy is often only regarded as a last resort due to baseless cautions present in the society.


The surgery takes place below the urinary meatus, down to the border of the perineal area and includes the fourchette. Incisions are made on each side adjacent and parallel to the labia minora. The structures removed are the hymen, mucous membrane, Bartholin glands ducts and minor vestibular glands. In some surgeries, the amount of tissue removed is not so extensive. Vaginal mucosa tissue remains attached and then is pulled downward to cover the area where tissue was removed. This surgery is also used to treat lichen sclerosus.[5] "The complete surgery removes the entire lateral hymenal tissues to the lateral vestibular walls at Hart’s line, and involves removal of the entire posterior fourchette from the posterior hymenal remnants down to the perineum" which barring complications, enables the entire procedure to be over within an hour.[6]

The procedure involves minimal bleeding and is usually done using local anesthesia. The amount of tissue removed during the surgery can vary with respect to the pain.


Complications related to vestibulectomy include bleeding, infection. Long-term complications can be weakness of the anal muscles, cosmetic changes, development of a Bartholin's cyst, a decline in vaginal lubrication. Reports of satisfaction with the outcome of the surgical procedure can be as high as 90%.[7]

The procedure has been known to be unsuccessful in rare cases, where the pain remained constant even after surgery.[8] In such cases, alternative treatments like oral medicines or more surgeries may be considered, depending on the severity of the persisting pain.[9]


The recovery period is about 6–12 weeks, depending on the amount of vulvar tissues removed. Post-surgery, the patient might need further physical and possible mental therapy to avoid scarring and lead a regular sexual life.[10]


In a study done in 2006, it was discovered that 93% of patients who had undergone the surgery recommended it for vulvar pain. Only 11% of women continued to have issues in their sex lives post-surgery.[11]


  1. ^ "Vulvodynia and vestibulodynia | Skin Support". Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  2. ^ "Vulvar Vestibulitis - Austin Urogynecology". Austin Urogynecology. 2015-02-10. Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  3. ^ Lavy, Yuval; Lev-Sagie, Ahinoam; Hamani, Yaron; Zacut, David; Ben-Chetrit, Avraham (2005-05-01). "Modified vulvar vestibulectomy: simple and effective surgery for the treatment of vulvar vestibulitis". European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology. 120 (1): 91–95. doi:10.1016/j.ejogrb.2004.04.039. ISSN 0301-2115. PMID 15866093.
  4. ^ richcolour. "Published research - Vulval Pain Society". Vulval Pain Society. Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  5. ^ Hoffman, p. 1070.
  6. ^ "Vestibulectomy | San Diego Sexual Medicine". Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  7. ^ Unger, p. S45.
  8. ^ "Surgery for vulval pain - Vulval Pain Society". Vulval Pain Society. Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  9. ^ (PDF) Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. ^ "Surgery for vulval pain - Vulval Pain Society". Vulval Pain Society. Retrieved 2018-10-27.
  11. ^ Goldstein, A. T., Klingman, D. , Christopher, K. , Johnson, C. and Marinoff, S. C. (2006), Surgical Treatment of Vulvar Vestibulitis Syndrome: Outcome Assessment Derived from a Postoperative Questionnaire. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 3: 923-931. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2006.00303.x


  • Hoffman, Barbara (2012). Williams gynecology. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical. ISBN 9780071716727.
  • Unger, C. A., N. Kow, and J. Jelovsek. "Vestibulectomy: A Review of Technique." Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology 21.2 (2014): S45. doi:10.1016/j.jmig.2013.12.077

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