Main Page Content

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​In this Guide

If you've been scheduled for a Vulvectomy, you probably have some questions. Our guide offers the answers you're looking for, and helps you prepare for your operation.​


About the Operation

Why do I need this surgery?

The vulva is the external (outside) part of the female genitals. The vulva includes the outer and inner lip, the clitoris and the openings to the urethra and the vagina. This surgery removes a portion of the vulva. Another term for this is wide local excision of the vulva. This may be performed for vulvar cancer, pre-cancerous lesions or other skin conditions of the vulva. Depending on your diagnosis and what you and your doctor decide, you may also have some lymph nodes from your groin removed.

What type of surgery am I having?

There are different types of surgery for the vulva:

  1. Wide local excision of vulva
    This involves removing the lesion on the vulva with some normal skin and tissue around the lesion. Other names for this procedure are partial or simple vulvectomy.
  2. ​Radical wide local excision of vulva
    This involves removing the lesion on the vulva with a larger area of skin (1 to 2 cm) and deeper tissue. Other names for this procedure include radical vulvectomy​.

If you have a diagnosis of vulvar cancer, some of the lymph nodes in your groin (area between your stomach and thigh) may be removed. This will have been discussed with your doctor. There are different types of surgery for removal of lymph nodes from the groin: ​​​

  1. Inguinofemoral lymphadenectomy
    Lymph nodes that lie close to skin surface and possibly the deep lymph nodes of the groin are removed through small cuts at the groin.
  2. ​Sentinel lymph node biopsy of the inguinal nodes
    Removal of the first lymph node in the groin that drains the vulva. This lymph node is found by injecting either blue dye or radioactive material into the cancer on the vulva the morning of your operation. This may require a visit to the Radiology Department on the day of your surgery.

What tests will I need before surgery?

You will likely require a CT scan​ of your chest, abdomen and pelvis before your surgery.

How long will I stay in the hospital?

Some patients may go home the same day of surgery. If your doctor admits you ​to hospital after surgery, you will be in the hospital for about 1 day.

​​ ​
Download a printable version of the full guide:
​​​​