Feeling self conscious about their vagina – or experiencing a lack of function and pain in their genitals – is something many women face. And through lack of knowledge or shame, it’s often an issue they may avoid addressing. But it’s one that surgery is often well placed to solve.
In fact, in a survey of patients who opted for vaginal rejuvenation surgery, 93% gave this type of procedure a “Worth It” rating.
- What is vaginal rejuvenation?
- Who makes a suitable candidate for vaginal rejuvenation?
- What specific issues are addressed and what type of surgical procedures are involved?
- Is surgery the only option?
- Are the results from surgery permanent?
- How risky is it?
- How much does vaginal rejuvenation cost?
- What’s involved in recovery?
What is vaginal rejuvenation?
Many women suffer discomfort or pain from the shape, condition and size of their vagina and hope that vaginal rejuvenation will give them a better quality of life. Chronic pelvic pain is a very real and often hidden problem.
There are others who are dissatisfied with the look of their genitals – they may deem them too fleshy, bulky or just not the right shape – and are focussed on their aesthetic improvement.
Vaginal rejuvenation, also known as female genital plastic surgery and designer vagina surgery, is a broad term that covers several different types of procedure.
Strictly speaking, the clinical world uses the term to describe procedures that address issues affecting the vaginal canal – but many other operations like labiaplasty, which may be for more cosmetic reasons, are often associated with it too.
According to research, 10% to 20% of women in the United States suffer from dyspareunia (painful intercourse) and up to 28% are affected by vulvodynia (pain affecting the vulva region).
Another study found that nearly half the women surveyed are worried that their vagina is abnormal in some way and around 18% said they had considered altering the appearance of their vagina through labiaplasty or other methods.
The situation isn’t helped by the fact that lots of people – and that includes women – aren’t as familiar as they could be with the intricacies of the female anatomy.
Verywellhealth.com says the word “vagina” refers to the “elastic, yet muscular canal” that connects internally to the cervix. And as cosmopolitan.com reports, the vulva is the general term for the external parts of the female sexual anatomy. There are two sets of labia, the labia majora (the outer set) and minora, (the inner set).
The area above the pubic bone is called the mons and in the middle is the clitoral hood that covers the clitoris. Underneath this lies the opening to the urethra, and below that, the vaginal opening.
Not surprisingly, with so many working parts involved, there isn’t a one size fits all solution for women who are anxious about, or are suffering pain in or around their private parts. But science has provided solutions that will soothe many.
Who makes a suitable candidate for vaginal rejuvenation?
Issues with the female sexual anatomy fall broadly into two categories – function and appearance – and some women are bothered by both.
Good candidates for vaginoplasty are those who, for one reason or another, have found that their vaginal muscles have lost tone. This may be as a result of getting older, and the associated reduction in oestrogen causing laxity and a thinning of the skin, or from giving birth.
For others, it may be because they are no longer feeling the same sensations during sex as they once did or want to improve the shape of the fleshy parts of the vulva – either for cosmetic reasons or because they cause discomfort when sitting or exercising.
And some women find that their genitals are just too bulky and want to reduce areas that may be protruding too much through their clothes.
What specific issues are addressed and what type of surgical procedures are involved?
A loss of elasticity in the vaginal canal can be improved with a vaginoplasty. According to plasticsurgery.org, a vaginoplasty brings the separated muscles together and the extra mucosa skin from the back side of the vagina is removed. This usually results in a tighter vaginal canal with stronger muscle tone.
A perineoplasty can also help with a loss of elasticity at the opening of the vagina. A tear, or cut, in that area, can create a wider vaginal opening. As aedit.com describes, a perineoplasty is a procedure that reshapes and tightens the area between the vaginal opening and anus. Incisions are made in a V-shaped pattern within the vaginal mucosa (membrane) and any excess skin or scar tissue is excised. The reduction in excess skin can also improve the appearance of the perineum.
According to research, urinary incontinence affects twice as many women as men because events like pregnancy, childbirth and menopause affect the pelvic area. The Mayo Clinic says there are many treatments to try before surgery, but that sling procedures, bladder neck suspension and prolapse surgery can treat problems that cause incontinence.
The Labia Minora are too long
Every woman’s size and shape is different and this goes for genitals too. Some women find that their labia change shape after birth, they may have been born with labia that hang lower than they’d like or they might have become larger with age. As well as the aesthetic element, UCHealth reports that some women feel discomfort with intercourse, bicycling or when they wear tight clothing or bathing suits.
A labiaplasty reduces the length of the labia minora and was performed over 11,000 times by Association of American Plastic Surgeons in 2019. Realself explains there are two main techniques – the trim method (one continuous incision) and the wedge method (where a V-shaped wedge of tissue is removed).
One patient says, “I just didn’t like how much longer my inner labia were, and I felt like I was always having to tuck them in when putting on a bathing suit”. After her op, she felt differently, “I loved, loved, loved how it turned out and went into my next relationship, with the man who is now my husband, feeling really good in my own skin and able to be completely open sexually”.
Excess skin around the clitoral hood
A labiaplasty is often performed alongside a clitoral hood reduction that’s designed to reduce skin around the clitoris. Following a labiaplasty, the top area of the vulva may appear too prominent, so a reduction in the clitoral hood aims to provide symmetry.
Labia Majora are too large
Some women feel that the outer labia are too prominent – thanks to fat deposits or sagging – causing discomfort or self-consciousness. A labia majoraplasty makes them smaller by removing excess tissue from each labia to improve the appearance of the vulval area.
Mons are too prominent or saggy
A monsplasty reduces the tissue of the mons pubis – the area that protects the pubic bone. Due to aging, childbirth or weight changes the mons can begin to change shape which influences how clothes look as well as making an impact on intercourse and urination. A surgical incision is made to tighten the muscles and create a reduced silhouette.
Is surgery the only option?
While surgery has proven very effective for many patients who want to improve their genitals, it isn’t always necessary to go under the knife.
Many patients have opted to try vagina tightening using non-invasive techniques like lasers and radio frequency waves. It’s said these stimulate collagen production and improve vaginal lubrication.
Hyaluronic acid fillers, that are often used for facial rejuvenation, can also be used to enhance the shape of the labia majora, providing more volume and a younger- looking aesthetic.
An alternative injectable is platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, (a component of the patient’s own blood) which it’s thought promotes healing and cell growth in damaged tissues. Some claim it helps with urinary leakage and pain during intercourse among other effects.
The advantage of non-invasive treatments is that downtime is usually minimal (if there’s any at all) and patients can often get straight on with life as normal.
However, they aren’t suitable for everyone and the results aren’t permanent. The extent of work that a patient requires determines whether an operation is a more suitable option and this is best assessed by a board-certified surgeon. There may also be some risks attached (see below).
Are the results from surgery permanent?
The results from vaginal surgery are permanent but as a woman matures, just as with other parts of her body, her genitals may change. They could become plumper or perhaps more saggy. Some patients may want to revisit their results with their surgeon down the line.
How risky is it?
Some non-invasive therapies rank very highly for “Worth It” ratings on realself.com (although arguably the samples aren’t extensive). However, in 2018, the FDA said that it had not established the safety and effectiveness of energy-based medical devices to perform vaginal “rejuvenation” and/or cosmetic vaginal procedures. So, patients are encouraged to carry out thorough research and consult an experienced and certified gynecologist before booking treatments.
In terms of surgery, many of the procedures can be done under local anaesthesia, although many patients opt for general. As a result, many of the risks are the same as those associated with most surgical procedures ie infection, bleeding and pain.
It’s worth bearing in mind that one piece of research reports that the few studies that have been done on vaginal tightening procedures have found that they result in improved sexual function with low complication rates.
How much does vaginal rejuvenation cost?
The cost of vaginal surgery varies widely depending on the number of procedures being done as well as the surgeon’s experience and specialisms, their locality and extra costs including anaesthesia and medication.
Patients can expect to pay anything in the region of $4,000 to $8,000 but only a series of consultations with board-certified surgeons who specialise in this field will provide a range of prices for the procedures required by a particular patient.
For example, after a surgery that included labiaplasty majora reduction and a vaginoplasty, one patient reports that, “The entire procedure, with a year of aftercare, came to $10,000. I consider it to have been a gift to myself. I look great in bathing suits now, with the inner labia removed and just feel so much more comfortable in all my clothing.”
What’s involved in recovery?
Recovery from vaginal rejuvenation typically takes one to two weeks – with the area being sore for a few days. A patient’s surgeon can advise whether a cold pack would be useful to reduce swelling and how soon a patient can return to work, exercise and sex.
There are many reasons why a woman may elect for a procedure on her genitalia – and it isn’t always true it’s because of pressure from outside parties.
She may be self conscious about how the area looks or impacted every day by discomfort or chronic pain to varying degrees.
The good news is that there are a wide variety of procedures that may help – many of which can be performed in combination with the aim of producing a result that’s refined, symmetrical and most importantly – pain free.
But as always – a patient should do their research thoroughly.
Consult a board- certified surgeon to discuss surgical goals, any medical conditions and previous surgeries. And research photos and ask questions – how much special training and experience does this surgeon actually have in this particular field? And what are the risks associated with the specific surgery being considered?
Moreover, don’t be shy. This is an incredibly important part of your body and it’s essential you understand everything you need to know about the surgery you’re thinking about. Then once you’re satisfied with your decision, it’s about looking forward to your new life, post op.
Please note: All materials on the Site, such as text, treatments, outcomes, photographs and images and any other material provided on the Site are for information purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding treatments. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Site.
Though the content of this blog has been carefully prepared, the author of this content is not a medical doctor and the content has not been reviewed by a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon.
Unless specifically stated, patients referred to in this blog have not received Vaginal Rejuvenation or associated procedures by Dr Mark Markarian. This blog does not endorse the work of any doctors or surgeons mentioned. Stories relating to patients’ personal experiences of the Vaginal Rejuvenation procedures should be treated as anecdotal only.
Any application of the material provided is at the reader’s discretion and his, her or their responsibility