Updated: May 7, 2020
Vaginal rejuvenation is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the aesthetic industry. The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ISAPS) gathered data between 2015 and 2016 and noticed a 45% rise in labiaplasty procedures. There has been a great influx of devices (like the FemiWand) available to the aesthetic market in the last two years, causing a burst of excitement and interest amongst UK clinics and its consumers. In a poorly regulated industry, it is important to question how safe these practices are before even beginning to question their efficiency. What is vaginal rejuvenation? Is VR for everyone? Why are we doing it? This latest post delves into the reasons behind this latest trend, the studies and the types of treatment on offer today.
What is vaginal rejuvenation?
The term ‘vaginal rejuvenation’ refers to the range of surgical and non-surgical treatments carried out by doctors, nurses and aestheticians to tighten the width and/or improve the aesthetic of the external part of the vagina.
Medical, reconstructive surgeries have been carried out for a number of years to the female genitalia following health complications like vaginal prolapse and cancer, and during gender reassignment surgery. However, the vaginal rejuvenation industry is marketed specifically for cosmetic reason, to either improve the appearance of the vagina only, and to enhance vaginal health and libido.
VR can also be referred to as:
Female genital plastic surgery
Female genital cosmetic surgery
Why are these treatments so popular?
The logic behind why this is such a favourable treatment is due to a few reasons. Conventional experiences such as trauma from childbirth/s, a change in hormones, vaginal relaxation syndrome, and age inevitably causes the vagina to lose its laxity and lubrication leading to an array of problems for women.
The following symptoms are commonplace however widely unreported amongst the female population. Vaginal dryness is a common side effect following the menopause, which can lead to a loss of sensation and sometimes pain during intercourse. Hormones and age can also factor a sudden loss of libido, – 40% of American women have been reported suffer with psychological distress from female sexual function according to studies.
Whilst 20 million women report to suffer with uterine prolapse and incontinence from a variety of causes, childbirth and age being the most common causes.
Age and hormonal changes are a contributing to factor to poor vaginal health.
Alongside vaginal tightening treatments, external procedures are also available to treat the appearance and colouration of the vagina in order to reach the ideal beauty image displayed through internet pornography, hair removal cultures and unrealistic representations that we are exposed to everyday through social media and other entertainment outlets.
This damaging approach has created a general anxiety amongst many women and rapidly changed views on what real female genitalia actually looks like. Eventually these influences have led to a naive, singular view of the ‘perfect’ vagina, despite there being no such thing. The Barbie look is in. The forceful desire for a ‘clean,’ ‘tight’ and ‘neat’-looking vagina is what fuels this intimate sector of the aesthetic industry.
Vaginal Rejuvenation Treatments
Vaginal surgery entails going under some form anaesthesia and offers an instant result but usually requires weeks, sometimes months of downtime. As with any surgical procedure there is some risk associated such as infection, scarring and loss of sensation in the area.
LABIAPLASTY reduces the size and changes the appearance of the vaginal lips.
CLITORAL HOOD REDUCTION/UNHOODING is usually done at the same time as labiaplasty and reduces the excess folds around the vagina.
VAGINOPLASTY is a procedure that tightens the vagina. It brings the separated muscles together and excess skin is also removed.
MONSPLASTY treats the common bulge of fat and/or skin that sits on the upper part of the vagina where the hair grows around the vulva.
RADIOFREQUENCY (RF) is an energy-based treatment that uses electromagnetic waves to target the water in the vaginal tissue. This energy creates heat which stimulates a collagen induction process.
There are several types of RF devices on the market and the treatments are carried out usually by aestheticians in a ‘lunchtime’ setting (-it usually takes only 8-30minutes) and tends to be more affordable than the surgical options listed above.
Frequently RF is marketed as a treatment that guarantees to tighten, lubricate and enhance the overall health of the vagina but there is some controversy to this because of insufficient research.
Diagram via mledge
LASER treatment including Co2, erbium-YAG and carbon lasers were the first to be FDA-approved to treat lesions on female genitalia. It works in the same way as radiofrequency, by targeting the water in the tissues and using heat to stimulate a wound healing process.
Also, like RF it takes no longer than 30 minutes to carry out and is reported a painless treatment and requires no downtime.
However, experts have pointed out that despite the amount of research carried out on these up-and-coming vaginal tightening devices, there still isn’t enough data to determine the overall safety and efficiency of these machines. We know that these applications have the power to stimulate a wound healing process, but at what cost?
In 2018 the FDA released a statement regarding these energy devices:
“The deceptive marketing of a dangerous procedure with no proven benefit…is egregious…. In reviewing adverse event reports and published literature, we have found numerous cases of vaginal burns, scarring, pain during sexual intercourse, and recurring or chronic pain.”
When Allure asked a year later about any changes that had been made, they noted that seven manufacturers “made significant changes to their websites to remove claims associated with vaginal rejuvenation and other unapproved treatment.”
EPIDERMAL GROWTH FACTORS are another rising non-aesthetic treatment in the vaginal rejuvenation market. The AQ Vaginal Rejuvenation System uses ‘human fibroblast conditioned media’ to relieve vaginal dryness and help sooth irritation through the insertion of a topical cream. As a result, it claims to help boost sexual arousal during intercourse, and tighten the walls of the vagina through lubrication.
A FILLERS AND PRP case study was released in 2016, the first of its kind, in which hyaluronic acid-based filler and platelet-rich plasma was injected into the posterior vaginal wall. The “easy to perform” method was considered “safe” to use but the papers also explained that more studies would have to be carried out to determine the short- and long-term effects of the treatment.
Often a combination of non-surgical treatments is advised to get the best results i.e. PRP with RF treatment, RF treatment following surgical treatment, LASER C02 with RF.
PELVIC FLOOR TRAINING is the one of the more commonly advised approaches to help strengthen the muscles surrounding the vagina naturally. It is not exactly clear when the vagina-clenching exercise phenomena began, but it universally used and discussed. An online review examined 24 selected studies conducted among 2,394 women and found that the majority of test subjects with urinary incontinence noted a significant improvement in their quality of life after committing to regular pelvic floor training exercises. However, there is actually a lack of evidence to show how efficient this therapy is for actually tightening the vagina as it works on the muscles surrounding the genitalia, rather than the muscles inside.
DIET can have an impact on how happy your vagina can be. Cranberry juice and garlic not only help combat bacterial infections when they arrive but help prevent them too. The good bacteria in yoghurt maintains a healthy vaginal PH whilst soy, avocados, water and flaxseeds can help keep the vagina lubricated. Kiwi, oranges and peppers boost your sex drive as well as dark chocolate.
JADE EGGS, also known as ‘yoni eggs’ have been used throughout Asia for thousands of years to help boost women’s sexual health. In recent years social media has made them become fashionable despite the lack of evidence to support the claims they make. Can these ancient eggs really strengthen our vaginas? In 2018, a suit was settled against Goop for $145,000 because of the claims they made about their own vaginal egg – from supporting hormonal balance to regulation menstruation and bladder control. It is fact that there is no scientific data to prove that jade eggs can actually change the health of our vagina, but people still buy them.
HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS are another rapidly growing sector of the wellness market, and now we have pills designed specifically to boost your sex drive. Alongside natural, libido-boosting smoothies (carrot juice, watermelon, celery and aloe vera juice are all recommended for a healthy libido boost), there is a wide range of herb supplements available. Ginseng, Maca and Saffron and Fenugreek are all said to be perfect natural aphrodisiacs.
The standards to establish if somebody is or isn’t an ideal candidate has not professionally been established yet. If you decide that vaginal rejuvenation is something that you would like to try, then bear in mind that non-surgical treatments such as RF and laser have little science to prove how efficient and how safe they are. The surgical route is a long and tiresome one, should not be chosen lightly but can be beneficial to extreme circumstances. Why do we do it? Because we are women, and women sometimes pee when they laugh or feel less arousal after having children. Because we want to feel better about ourselves, because we can. Or maybe there is a much deeper meaning behind why we choose to perfect our vaginas, maybe we are chasing an unidealistic body images for ourselves as we are helplessly brainwashed by the media. If surgery isn’t your thing, a focused diet and pelvic clenches may be. The topic’s controversy is widespread but conversation is little. Perhaps the rise in treatment will encourage a rise in conversation.
Have you have vaginal rejuvenation? Share your experiences and thoughts on this topic by commenting below or share this post with friends.