Women don’t need cosmetic surgery to be beautiful, especially not the vaginal variety, but I do see the appeal—after pushing two kids out of my vagina, let’s just say it isn’t what it once was down there. Because of this, I’ve looked into vaginal rejuvenation. Here’s everything you should know if you’re considering it too.
Female genital cosmetic surgery (FGCS) encompasses many different female genital procedures that improve the look of the vagina and its tightness. Women can get labiaplasty, or trimming of the inner vaginal lips; clitoral hood reduction, or reduction of excess folds over the clitoris; labia majoraplasty, or reduction of the hair-bearing outer vaginal lips; monsplasty, or reduction of the fatty tissue on the upper part of the vagina; hymenoplasty, or repairing of the hymen back to its virginal state; and vaginoplasty, or surgical tightening of the vaginal canal by repairing stretched muscles.
There are non-surgical alternatives for vaginal tightening. Pelvic floor physical therapy and Kegels can help tighten the vagina but may not solve all of your problems. Instead, you can get an injection of collagen into your G-spot to improve pleasure. Or, you can try laser and radiofrequency therapies that increase collagen formation, which tightens the vagina and therefore improves sexual function. These therapies are less risky than surgeries but aren’t as effective and aren’t permanent because they usually need to be repeated once or twice a year.
Women want genital rejuvenation for many different reasons. Aging, childbearing, hormonal changes (like from menopause), and radiation treatment for cancer can all change the appearance and tightness of the vagina. Women can also suffer from vaginal atrophy, dryness, urinary incontinence, and sexual dysfunction; surgery can improve these issues. Women with congenital defects, those with pelvic organ prolapse (so much pelvic floor weakness that organs can drop into the vagina), and those who’ve had vaginal trauma may medically need vaginal surgery. However, most women seek genital rejuvenation for aesthetic reasons because they’re embarrassed by how their vagina looks, or they want to improve their sex life because they’re unable to reach orgasm due to looseness, for example.
FGCS is growing in popularity with no sign of slowing down. More and more women want these procedures. According to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, labiaplasty has been on the rise, notably over the last few years, with a 39% increase from 2015 to 2016, and a 19% increase from 2016 to 2017 (they only track doctors that are part of this society though). According to global statistics from the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, labiaplasty was the fastest growing cosmetic procedure in 2016, with a 45% rise from 2015.
Because of increasing interest, more therapies are constantly being developed. Newer treatment options are being explored. For example, in one study, a technique called vaginal lipofilling (combined with injection of your body’s own plasma plus hyaluronic acid) improved vaginal laxity, although more research needs to be done. In another study, scientists used Gore-Mycromesh surgically inserted into the back of the vagina to correct looseness, and participants showed enhanced sexual function.
The safety of vaginal therapies is still being determined. Traditional vaginal surgeries like vaginoplasty are essentially pretty safe as long as you do your research and see an experienced doctor, although there are risks just like with any other type of surgery. As for other vaginal procedures, particularly the newest, not enough is known and more research still needs to be done. Women can sometimes be misled by doctors and by the internet on the safety and effectiveness of some procedures as a result. For example, laser treatments may potentially cause damage to surrounding organs like the rectum, urethra, and bladder. The bottom line is to be cautious about what you do to your vagina. Talk to your doctor and do extensive research first.
Apparently, recovery isn’t that bad in general. Recovery time depends on the treatment. Non-surgical therapies take less time to heal from and typically result in little pain afterward. Women don’t usually have to refrain from sex for very long after less invasive therapies. After surgery though, recovery is a little worse. For instance, after labiaplasty, women will have some pain and soreness for a few days. They’re normally advised to take about a week off from work and are on pelvic rest (no sex or tampons) for six weeks. I haven’t had surgery on my vagina, so I wouldn’t know firsthand, but it can’t possibly be any worse than childbirth recovery.
There are risks involved with surgery specifically. Possible negative outcomes of surgery include bleeding, hematomas, scarring, pain, infection, temporary loss of sensation, and sometimes bowel or nerve injury. Other long-term complications include permanent loss of sensation, painful intercourse if the surgeon made your vagina too tight, and extreme infection or tissue necrosis. These complications are rare but can still happen.
Patients are mostly satisfied, with some exceptions, just like with any other type of cosmetic surgery. In many studies, most women report higher sexual satisfaction as a result of various vaginal rejuvenation procedures. Women also tend to have an increased libido because they feel more confident in how they look and feel. Additionally, surgeries successfully treat other conditions like urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, which can make a huge difference in a woman’s quality of life. There are many wonderful success stories, but there are some botched outcomes too, so you should be prepared for that possibility.
If you want vaginal rejuvenation, you should think about the risk versus reward. There’s no doubt that women can benefit from vaginal rejuvenation. If you have a medical condition that needs surgery to be fixed, or if you have so much looseness from childbirth that it severely inhibits your sex life, then you can definitely benefit from FGCS. But before going under the knife, you should think about whether or not the benefits outweigh the potential hazards. While surgeries can help, there are no guarantees. I also don’t think it’s worth doing just because you don’t think your vagina is visually appealing. Having a pretty vagina isn’t synonymous with a healthy sex life or with sexuality. Everyone’s vagina looks different. And whoever you’re with should love you for you and not for how “good” you look down there.
Unless you have an extreme case, you probably don’t need it. That includes myself because I don’t think the possible dangers are worth it. What if I have permanent pain or numbness? That would be horrible. However, if I have another baby I’m definitely reconsidering, especially if my sex life takes a hit- I deserve to have good sex and to feel confident in my own skin. But I’d be doing it for me and not for anyone else.
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