Vaginal rejuvenation is more than a quick makeover for your lady parts
The umbrella term refers to procedures both medical and aesthetic, an expert explains it all
Don’t freak out, but we’re going to talk about vaginas. There is a lot more to female genitalia than meets the eye and we’ve lost count of the myths and misconceptions that surrounded our lady bits. More so when it comes to the concept of vaginal rejuvenation.
Vaginal rejuvenation may sound like you’re taking your vagina to a celebrity wellness retreat for the weekend, but it’s more medical than that. See, it isn’t a single procedure, just like there’s no one perfect-looking vagina. No doctor is vajazzling your nether region and no jade eggs are involved.
It’s a “marketing, rather than a medical nomenclature. Vaginal rejuvenation is an umbrella term used to describe a range of surgical as well as non-surgical aesthetic and function/functionality procedures that correct and restore the optimal structure of the vagina and surrounding tissues,” says Dr Molina Patel, infertility specialist and aesthetic gynaecologist, Akanksha Hospital, Gujarat.
Multiple procedures could be termed as vaginal rejuvenation. For the sake of easy reading, we’re going to continue to use the term in this article.
Who can benefit from vaginal rejuvenation?
From childbirth to menopause, the physiological changes that women go through affect the vaginal wall, canal and pelvic floor.
Vaginal rejuvenation could refer to a cosmetic procedure that you opt for to make your vagina more ‘youthful’, AKA pre-childbirth tightness. Or you might have a genital abnormality that requires more invasive surgery.
The umbrella term also incorporates treatment of issues like extreme dryness in your privates, genitourinary syndrome of menopause (GSM), stress incontinence (from sneezing, laughing, coughing, even suddenly standing up) and organ prolapses.
Vaginal rejuvenation, then, can help women live better lives, have more enjoyable and pain-free sex, and go for a run without having to know where the closest bathroom is so that they don’t wet their pants.
It’s your body and your choice to opt for a procedure that makes you happy, as long as you have the right information and understand what you’re getting into.
Like plastic surgery, there’s the aesthetic component and the reconstructive aspect. It comes down to your purpose for seeking out treatment. Patel breaks it down, based on the available treatment options:
Reconstructive vaginal rejuvenation
“This type of procedure includes all surgeries aiming to repair and/or correct the anatomical vaginal structures,” says Patel.
The most common vaginal surgeries are ones that correct pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence such as an anterior or posterior colporrhaphy, hysteropexy, a urethral sling and anal sphincteroplasty for anal incontinence.
A perineoplasty can decrease a wide vaginal diameter following multiple vaginal deliveries and ageing.
Vaginoplasty procedures repair birth defects and congenital deformations so a baby can grow up and urinate, menstruate and have sex normally and with ease.
Functional and cosmetic vaginal rejuvenation
Functional procedures really look at enhancing female sexual experience and sensations. Cosmetic treatments focus on the appearance of the vaginal opening and vulva, explains Patel.
The most common ones include clitoral unhooding or a clitoral hood reduction which reduces the size of the clitoral hood by surgically removing excess tissue.
There are also what Patel refers to as intimacy injections that involve hyaluronic acid shots or cellular PRP (platelet-rich
plasma) shots in the G-spot, clitoral complex or vulval area that improve sexual pleasure and correct dysfunction.
Labiaplasty is one of the most commonly performed vaginal rejuvenation procedures which involves “restoring symmetry, reducing or removing inner labia, removing of unwanted fat from the mons pubis and upper parts of the labia majora.”
There are several energy-based non-invasive procedures involving lasers such as Fractional CO2 laser and Er: YAG laser, radio frequency-based devices and high intensity focused ultrasound, that are believed to help tighten the vaginal canal and improve its look and function.
As with any surgery, there’s going to be an evaluation by a professional to see if you’re eligible for the procedure.
Sign up for detailed counselling about the treatment, its costs, an understanding of realistic final results and possible side effects so you have an all-encompassing idea of what to expect pre and post-op.
You’ll be required to share an elaborate medical history including pelvic and obstetrics report, and undergo a pelvic examination with an ultrasound and pap smear.
Patel says that there are also conditions such as active HPV/HSV (STDs), acute vaginitis, recent vaginal injury/bleeding, and more, that would disqualify you for a procedure at that time.
More so, patients with Body Dysmorphic Disorder are counselled appropriately and guided towards other professionals for proper treatment.
Questions you should be asking
A sign of a good doctor is one who is unafraid to advise against a procedure, even if it means less money for them. They should be open to discussions, questions and multiple consultations, instead of agreeing to surgery on the first day that you meet them.
Some important questions you should ask your surgeon are:
- What are the short-term and long-term risks and possible complications?
- What is the complete financial cost – for each consult to the cost of the surgery, anaesthesia, items required (if any) for recovery and follow-ups?
- Can you handle and treat these complications yourself?
- What are the restrictions on the use of sanitary products, like tampons and menstrual cups post-surgery?
- Will surgery affect future chances of pregnancy and cause complications during childbirth?
- Are there non-surgical options for what I’m seeking to achieve?
- Will I experience reduced sensation or numbness in my vagina or clitoris after surgery?
- Is surgery going to impact my ability to have an orgasm?
It may be a risky business
In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a federal agency of the US Health and Human Services Department, raised safety concerns regarding the use of energy-based devices for vaginal cosmetic procedures.
It was to make clear to the public that no devices have been cleared for such use by the FDA and that there are possible long-term complications that patients should be wary about.
Recently, after much speculation, the FDA under its 510(k) process, has cleared the use of lasers and various other energy-based devices for specific indications like tissue ablation, resurfacing, and more, including for purposes of aesthetic gynaecology.
“These findings emphasise the need for more clinical trials before using lasers and radiofrequency devices,” says Patel, adding that a handful of misses as compared to a large number of past and on-going successful procedures shouldn’t deter people from surgical or non-surgical procedures.
“You’re trusting someone to treat an issue in a very sensitive and private body part. You want to seek out a specialist for it, like an aesthetic gynaecologist,” she adds.
Ask them how many times they’ve performed the procedure, how many follow-ups they’ve attended (minimal follow-up could mean the patient has switched doctors).
You want a seasoned professional who knows how to deliver customer satisfaction while sticking to the boundaries of safety.