Episioplasty, also known as valvuloplasty, is a reconstructive surgical procedure performed at Metropolitan Veterinary Center in Chicago, to remove excess skin folds around the vulva (the external genital organ in female dogs). The procedure does not alter the genitals, but creates a more normal position for the vulva so as it is not “hooded” by skin. The excessive skin can be due to obesity, early spay or no known cause at all and is how the animal was “built”. This is particularly true for certain breeds such as English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Shar Pei’s and Pugs, but other breeds can be affected too.
Excessive skin folds around the vulva can lead to the accumulation of urine and vaginal secretions. A moist, dark environment is created where bacteria and yeast can thrive, resulting in vulvar fold dermatitis and recurrent urinary tract infections.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Licking of the peri-vulvar region
- Vulvar fold dermatitis
- Frequent urination, urinary accidents, urgency to urinate, blood in urine, recurrent urinary tract infections
Excessive skin folds or a “hooded” vulva can often be diagnosed at the time of your pet’s Metropolitan Veterinary Center.
In some cases, medical management of vulvar fold dermatitis with systemic antibiotics, topical antibiotics, cleansing, drying agents, or lotions may be successful but is often not a good long-term solution.
Surgical treatment (episioplasty) is a reconstructive procedure aimed at removing the redundant skin folds around the vulva. During the episioplasty, we carefully measure a section of excessive skin in a horseshoe pattern or upside down “U”. The folds of skin surrounding and covering the vulva are removed. This helps expose the vulva allowing air to reach the skin and eliminating the dark, moist environment. The skin is then sutured.
Aftercare and Outcome:
Although an episioplasty is not considered a “major” surgery, there is still time needed for the site to heal and a definitive recovery period. Pain, inflammation, and infection are still possible post-operatively. Cold compresses during the first 24-48 hours will aid in decreasing inflammation. Most pets are irritated by the surgical wound and need to wear an E-collar until the sutures are removed. Sutures are removed 10-14 days following surgery.
The prognosis after episioplasty is generally excellent.