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Why Would a Veterinarian Recommend an Episioplasty?

Are you noticing excessive skin folds around your dogs’ vulva? If so, then don't ignore these symptoms because dogs with such symptoms might be suffering from the disease known as the recessed vulva, which needs surgeries, i.e., vulvoplasty or episioplasty. Don’t have much information about such surgical procedures and diseases? Don’t worry. In this article, I have compiled the must-know information such as; causes, symptoms, treatments, post-operative care, and many more. 

What is an Episioplasty?

Episioplasty, also known as Vulvoplasty is a surgical procedure performed to treat conformational abnormalities, most commonly known as the recessed vulva. Dogs suffering from this disease have excessive skin folds around the vulva. The outer genital organ in female dogs is called the vulva.  However, the episioplasty will not alter the genitals, but it will ensure the skin folds do not hood the vulva by creating a normal position. 

Furthermore, veterinarians remove a crescent-shaped piece of tissue from above the vulva during this surgical procedure. Which ultimately lifts the skin and ensures a normal conformation around the vulva. Before moving ahead, lets’ discuss the frequent causes of the recessed vulva. Most of the time, early spay and obesity could be the prime reasons for excessive skin folds. Dogs’ breeds such as Pugs, English Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Shar Pei’s, and French Bulldogs are more prone to develop these diseases. 

Signs and Symptoms

If these symptoms appear, you must consult with the health care practitioners immediately. 

  • Scooting or Licking  
  • A foul odor 
  • Frequent or bloody urination 
  • Red irritated skin
  • Inappropriate urination
  • Persistent urinary tract infections

Why Perform Episioplasty?  

As we have already discussed that the recessed vulva is a condition in which dogs get multiple skin folds and fat around the vulva. These conditions usually result in the trapped urine, worms, bacteria proliferation, vulvar fold dermatitis, etc. In addition to this, affected dogs sometimes also suffer from acute inflammation or infection of the skin folds, vaginitis (vaginal inflammation/infection), or urinary tract infections. 

However, valvuloplasty helps to restore the conformation of the vulva, which eventually improves ventilation in this area. This minimizes the moist environment around the vulva and allows the skin to dry out, reducing the chances for bacteria to grow. Furthermore, this surgery also prevents further vulvar inflammation. 

Preparing For The Surgery 

Appropriate diagnosis is important to treat and perform surgical procedures effectively. Therefore, veterinarians may use the following techniques for diagnostic purposes.  

  • An appropriate physical examination.
  • A complete blood chemistry test. 
  • Urinalysis.
  • A bacterial culture or the urine.
  • Ultrasound of the urinary bladder.

Before performing the surgery, it is imperative to treat the skin infection around the vulva. For this purpose, medical practitioners may prescribe a course of oral antibiotics. However, if there is an antibiotic-resistant infection, veterinarians perform the bacterial cultures. That enables them to choose effective as well as appropriate antibiotics. In addition, if the infection treatment is not done before the surgery, it could prevent the surgical site and wounds from normal healing and prolong the process. 

Pre-anesthetic bloodwork is also performed before the surgical procedures. During this examination, serum biochemistry profile, red & white blood cell counts, and platelets count are assessed to ensure that the pet patient is healthy enough to bear anesthesia. If surgeons find any abnormalities in bloodwork, they resolve these issues before administering the surgery. 

Pet owners must follow the instructions regarding food and water intake before anesthesia. Because, most of the time, veterinarians instruct to withhold food starting the evening before surgery and limit water intake. Because a full stomach during the surgery may increase the risk of vomit during or after anesthesia. 

What Does the Surgery Involve?

While considering the severity of the dog’s recessed vulva, the surgeon's veterinarian removes a crescent-shaped piece of tissue (skin and possibly some underlying fat) above and extends it down both sides of the vulva. After removing the tissues, veterinarians use skin sutures to stitch the cut edges of the remaining skin. General anesthesia is crucial for performing this procedure. 

Recovery After a Valvuloplasty

  • To expedite the recovery after this surgery, the pet owners need to give the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug to prevent pain and swelling at the surgical site. 
  • Most of the time, dogs have skin sutures that are usually removed after 10 to 14 days. However, pet owners must visit the veterinary clinic during this period to recheck the incision and suture removal. 
  • You should restrict the activity including, running or jumping off the pet patients. Because doing so, could cause her incision to open or other complications. 
  • To prevent trauma and licking to the incision, the dogs need to wear an e-collar.