Vaginal rejuvenation is a term that describes a number of different procedures that enhance either the appearance or the function of the vagina. From tightening treatments to incontinence correction, vaginal rejuvenation procedures can benefit women in a number of different ways both aesthetically and for health reasons.
- Treatment Options
- Surgical Inner Vaginal Treatments
- Surgical Outer Vaginal Treatments
- Nonsurgical Treatment
- How to Prepare
- Side Effects
- List of Sources
Vaginal rejuvenation refers to a variety of surgical and non-surgical procedures designed to tighten, repair, or otherwise improve the sexual function or appearance (or sometimes both) of the inner or outer vagina. Surgeries include vaginoplasty, labiaplasty, and many others, and have gained plenty of traction as suitable options for aesthetic and physical enhancement of female genitalia.
Patients seeking vaginal rejuvenation options are often dissatisfied with the cosmetic appearance and/or sexual function of what is considered both normal or abnormal female anatomy. For many, vaginal rejuvenation procedures offer relief from symptoms that affect the normal function of the genitalia, especially after pregnancy, childbirth, and aging, and sometimes from physical trauma to the genital area or a genetic deformity. However, in most cases, vaginal enhancement procedures are performed purely for cosmetic reasons, and for improving the sensation felt during sex.
If you have considered having a vaginal rejuvenation procedure in the hopes of obtaining a better-toned, more attractive, and better functioning “designer vagina”, as they are sometimes called—you are not alone. Vaginal rejuvenation is a group of cosmetic procedures that are growing in popularity and is advancing rapidly with new technologies and techniques. For example, statistics for labiaplasty alone reported over 10,000 procedures performed in 2017, despite the relative newness of the procedure.
This article will discuss some important facts about vaginal rejuvenation—including options for surgical and non-surgical procedures, risks, benefits, and more. Take a look at the information provided below before scheduling a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon to see if one of these procedures might be right for you.
Vaginal Rejuvenation: What are the Options?
As previously mentioned, there are many different kinds of vaginal rejuvenation procedures in existence today. While labiaplasty and vaginoplasty are perhaps the most well-known procedures in the country, this article will also cover some lesser-known treatments that are steadily becoming better-known and more practiced each year by cosmetic plastic surgeons in the United States and around the world.
Aesthetic gynecologists and plastic surgeons will generally categorize these procedures into three different groups: surgical inner vaginal rejuvenation, surgical outer vaginal rejuvenation, and non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation procedures. Here are each of these categories (and the procedures that fall within each one), along with a description of each treatment to help you understand the options to discuss with your plastic surgeon.
Surgical Inner Vaginal Rejuvenation
In contrast to surgeries that modify a female patient’s external genitalia (vulva)—the clitoral hood, labia, and the mons pubis—surgical inner vaginal rejuvenation focuses on the reconstruction of the inner vaginal opening. The most common surgeries that focus on the internal vaginal areas are vaginoplasty, perineoplasty, and hymenoplasty procedures.
Vaginoplasty (Posterior Colporrhaphy): Vaginoplasty surgery is a technique used to tighten the vaginal canal after it becomes lax or loose after childbirth or from normal aging. This method surgically removes excess vaginal mucosa skin and brings the muscles closer together.
Perineoplasty: The perineum—the area of skin tissue that extends from the vagina to the anus—is often injured from an episiotomy or tearing during childbirth. This method is sometimes combined with a vaginoplasty and is designed to tighten the posterior muscles and remove excess perineal skin and distal vaginal mucosa. The procedure is known to eliminate or reduce the lax feeling of the area while improving the look and function of the genitalia. This option is suggested for patients without vaginal laxity, but that wish to repair and improve the sexual function and aesthetic appearance of the perineum after labor.
Hymenoplasty (Hymenorrhaphy): This procedure is also known as “revirginization.” This surgical technique is designed to reconstruct the hymen. In many situations, this procedure is performed on women from cultures that place a high value on a woman’s virginity before the marriage. For women in the United States, the desire to experience “virginity” again can be appealing for some non-virginal women—whether facing societal pressure to erase their sexual history, as a form of closure after a sexual assault or simply wanting to relive the experience of being “intact” again.
Surgical Outer Vaginal Rejuvenation
In this category, the focus of the surgical techniques is on the outer, external parts of the vagina. The most popular methods are labiaplasty, labia augmentation with fat transfer, clitoral hood reduction, and monsplasty.
Labiaplasty: The outer and inner lips of the vulva are known as the labia majora and the labia minora, respectively. In labiaplasty, one of the most popular vaginal rejuvenation procedures, the extra tissue of the labia majora and minora are trimmed away. The results are meant to relieve the discomfort of longer labia lips, reducing their length to prevent tugging and pulling, and/or to improve the appearance of the genitalia.
Labia Augmentation with Fat Transfer: The goal of labia augmentation is to create a more youthful and rejuvenated looking vagina by enhancing the labia majora. There are two methods commonly used in “labia puffing,” which are labia augmentation with fat transfer, and labia augmentation with hyaluronic fillers. In labia augmentation with fat transfer, fat is harvested from another area of the body, usually the stomach or thighs, through liposuction. The fat is then injected evenly across the labia to combat sagging skin and wrinkling.
Clitoral Hood Reduction: A clitoral hood reduction is often performed along with a labiaplasty. In this surgery, a triangular wedge of skin is excised from the clitoral hood, reducing its size, and exposing more of the sensitive clitoral tissue for enhanced sexual pleasure.
Monsplasty: A monsplasty is a surgical procedure that is meant to reduce the mound of skin over the mons pubis. This procedure is often performed on patients that have lost a significant amount of weight, or that have developed a noticeable amount of fatty tissue and loose skin (known as a FUPA, which stands for “fatty upper pubic area”). This procedure is also known as a pubic lift.
Non-surgical Vaginal Rejuvenation
Non-surgical methods for vaginal rejuvenation are quickly gaining in popularity. This is especially true among middle-aged or older women that have experienced changes to their genitalia due to childbirth, hormonal imbalances, and the natural aging process. Here are some of the most common options for rejuvenating the vaginal area without surgery:
Labia Augmentation with Hyaluronic Acid Fillers: In contrast to labia augmentation with fat transfer, labia augmentation with hyaluronic acid fillers (also known as “labia puffing”) uses dermal fillers instead of harvested fat to achieve the same results. In this procedure, hyaluronic fillers are injected across the labia to combat vaginal wrinkling and sagging.
O-Shot: An O-shot is designed to stimulate blood flow into the clitoris and vaginal wall areas, to increase sexual sensitivity. The patient is injected with platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, which is also useful for stimulating cell growth in the vaginal area.
G-Shot: A G-spot injection is designed to enhance sexual pleasure by increasing vaginal sensitivity in the Grafenberg Spot—also known as the “G-Spot.” The patient is injected with a hyaluronic acid-based injection into the g-spot, which is thought to intensify sexual feeling and gratification in women during sex.
Vaginal Rejuvenation with Laser Energy/Radiofrequency: During the natural aging process, the vaginal area can become loose and sagging—which can also lead to urinary incontinence, decreased sexual pleasure, vaginal dryness during sexual activity, and other issues. Vaginal rejuvenation with laser energy or with radiofrequency is a non-invasive procedure designed to enhance the appearance of the vagina while improving moisture, bladder control, and other important functions of the inner and outer genitalia.
Who is the Ideal Candidate for Vaginal Rejuvenation?
In general, ideal candidates for any type of invasive or non-invasive vaginal rejuvenation procedures are in good health and have a realistic, positive mindset about the surgery or procedure they are interested in having.
Ideal candidates for inner surgical vaginal rejuvenation options are women that have experienced vaginal looseness, sagging, and/or incontinence after childbirth, weight loss, or the natural aging process. In most cases, a good candidate has experienced a noticeable laxity of the vagina and decreased sexual satisfaction, bladder control issues, and problems wearing a tampon properly during her period.
Good candidates for outer vaginal rejuvenation surgery or non-surgical vaginal procedures are those that have experienced physical discomfort or pain due to enlarged or elongated labial lips, due to chafing, pulling, or rubbing against clothing. Other candidates report feeling emotional discomfort and dissatisfaction with the appearance of their vagina, usually due to a misshapen or abnormally long labia. In laser energy rejuvenation, the ideal patients are those that are hoping to restore tightness, increase sexual pleasure, and restore bladder control of the genitalia, and are also eager to improve the appearance of the vagina as well.
Who Should Not Have a Vaginal Rejuvenation Procedure?
Patients should discuss the risks and complications of vaginal rejuvenation procedures with their plastic surgeon. They should also understand the potential benefits of the surgery or procedure and have a realistic expectation of the kind of results they can hope to achieve.
Vaginal rejuvenation procedures are not designed for patients seeking to treat psychosexual dysfunctions, such as the inability to have an orgasm during sex or low libido. While many of these procedures can increase and intensify sexual pleasure, they cannot cure hormonal imbalances or other symptoms that might be causing a low sex drive.
How to Prepare for a Vaginal Rejuvenation Procedure
Before a vaginal rejuvenation procedure, patients will be asked to complete a physical to be cleared for the operation. In most cases, patients will also receive a colon cleanse to prepare for their treatment.
You will also be instructed to stop taking aspirin, Ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS), some herbal supplements and remedies, and certain multi-vitamins at least two weeks before surgery or treatment. If you smoke, you will be asked to stop smoking at least two weeks before and after the procedure to reduce the risk of serious complications.
Your doctor might also take before and after comparison photos of your genitals, and will discuss your medical history, current medications, allergies, and other women’s health concerns with you before your treatment.
Vaginal Rejuvenation: Post-Treatment Aftercare
Surgical Vaginal Rejuvenation: In most cases, patients can recover from vaginal rejuvenation surgery after about six weeks. Immediately following surgery, patients will be able to walk and move around once the anesthesia wears off.
In the first 24-48 hours after surgery, patients will be instructed to reduce and minimize any pain, swelling, and bruising by using ice packs over the incisions. They will also be prescribed pain medications by the plastic surgeon to relieve any discomfort after surgery.
Patients should be able to resume most of their usual activities (and return to work) after about a week of physical rest. However, patients will be advised to limit strenuous physical activity like heavy lifting, running, or jumping for at least 72 hours or longer after vaginal rejuvenation surgery. During this recovery period, patients will also be instructed to wear loose cotton underwear and pant bottoms for comfort and to keep from disturbing the incisions.
It is also important that patients avoid having sexual intercourse, tampon insertion, swimming, using a jacuzzi, hot tub, or a bathtub for at least six weeks post-surgery. Strenuous exercise, horseback riding, motorcycle riding, four-wheeling, ATV riding, and other similar, jarring activities are also prohibited during the recovery period.
Non-Surgical Vaginal Rejuvenation: For patients that have non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation treatments like laser rejuvenation or augmentation with fillers, recovery times are generally much shorter and less painful. While patients are encouraged to return to all normal activities immediately following their procedure, sexual intercourse is prohibited for at least a week post-treatment.
What are the Benefits of Vaginal Rejuvenation Procedures?
A woman’s genital area can experience dramatic changes after childbirth, weight loss, and the natural effects of aging on the body. Vaginoplasty, labiaplasty, and other vaginal rejuvenation procedures can be appealing solutions for those seeking to improve the function, health, and appearance of the vagina.
Vaginal rejuvenation procedures are said to reverse these detrimental physiological changes of the vaginal canal, vaginal wall, perineum, and the pelvic floor, and to enhance or correct the physical appearance of an abnormal, deformed, or injured the vaginal area.
These reconstructive surgeries and treatments are designed to target problem areas like lax muscles, or hanging, unattractive, excess skin from the labial areas. Tighter vaginal muscles can enhance sexual pleasure and restore moisture, reduce incontinence and bladder control issues, and also improve the appearance of the vagina. These benefits can greatly improve the quality of a woman’s physical, emotional, and sexual health.
In procedures where symptoms are purely cosmetic, vaginal rejuvenation procedures can enhance a woman’s self-confidence by creating a tighter, younger-looking, and generally more attractive genital area. A tighter and more attractive vagina can also improve sexual relations for both the woman and her partner. In general, vaginal rejuvenation procedures can offer several important benefits for many women, along with relatively short and uncomplicated recovery time.
What are the Cons of Vaginal Rejuvenation?
Many women report improved appearance, a better sex life, stronger bladder control, and several other benefits after having vaginal rejuvenation surgery. However, while the FDA commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration has cleared and approved laser treatment and energy-based devices for some purposes—like the destruction of abnormal or pre-cancerous cervical or vaginal tissue and condylomas (genital warts)—it has not yet cleared vaginal rejuvenation procedures for treating other symptoms, like vaginal atrophy, stress urinary incontinence, or sexual dysfunction.
While non-invasive treatments have not yet proven to be effective for some applications, some critics of more invasive surgeries for vaginal rejuvenation consider these treatments to be both ineffective and even dangerous. There is plenty of criticism and controversy that puts into question the necessity of vaginal rejuvenation surgeries—including labiaplasty, vaginoplasty, clitoral hood reduction, and labia augmentation surgeries, among others—despite the growing demand for these types of surgeries. The truth is that very few studies have been performed that test the long-term outcomes and negative effects of vaginal rejuvenation procedures, and caution should be exercised for those interested in seeking out the most effective and beneficial options for these treatments.
Another downside to vaginal rejuvenation therapies is that surgeries or non-surgical treatments can be expensive, with some procedures costing around $3000 or more. Some critics claim that kegel exercises, vaginal inserts, and pelvic floor muscle workouts can be used to achieve similar results, for free. There are also vagina creams that claim to rejuvenate the vagina, making it feel stronger, tighter, and slightly swollen—however, these creams are not permanent, and results can be minimal. Some women might not notice an improvement at all.
What are the Potential Complications and Side Effects of Vaginal Rejuvenation?
Most complications associated with vaginal rejuvenation surgeries like vaginoplasty and labiaplasty are those shared in common with many other surgeries, like blood clotting and bleeding, scarring, infection, allergic reactions to anesthesia, and nerve damage. Some side effects that are particular to vaginal rejuvenation surgeries are decreased genital sensitivity, and complications during labor and delivery (childbirth)—for example, perineum tearing or loosening of the vaginal canal—that reverse or otherwise damage the results of the rejuvenation procedures.
In general, patients seeking these types of surgeries or procedures can reduce the possibility of potential complications or side effects by choosing a well-trained, licensed, and board-certified plastic surgeon. A skilled surgeon will be able to counsel you extensively on the types of surgeries and treatments available to you, the benefits of the procedures, and the known complications or serious risks of these treatments and how they might apply to you.
It is important to note that aesthetic gynecology is a relatively new field of cosmetic surgery and is still its early stages of development and advancement. Vaginal rejuvenation surgeries and treatments are heavily in demand, which has brought on a “second wave” of research and educational programs devoted to the study and practice of known and developing techniques. Even so, most patients report happiness with the outcomes of their surgical and non-surgical vaginal rejuvenation treatments—around 90-95% satisfaction rates for vaginal aesthetic and functional plastic surgery procedures, and very low complication rates.
If you are interested in having one of these procedures, make sure to check the American Board of Plastic Surgery, or the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to find the most reputable plastic surgeon you can find to provide you with more information on cosmetic surgery options and aesthetic gynecological healthcare.